Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 86

Monday 26th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. First at school we had assembly, then when we came out it was Topic groups. We had to do our own holiday brochure, so when we came out, me, Ozzie and Frankie started our brochures. Then it was maths groups and I joined Group two.

At 12.00 I had dinner and in the afternoon it was reading time. Then me, Doug and Ozzie did our Maths and just as we finished it was maths groups again to show our maths. At 3.00 We had to go in the hall about Carlton and at 3.15 I came home and played on the ZX81.

Then I had tea and after tea me and mam put my name on everything for Carlton. After that I went out and at 8.00 I watched Points of view, then I turned over and watched Duty Free. At 8.45 I had a bath, then I wrote my diary and at 9.40 I went to bed.

Yegods, did the quest for us to make MORE and MORE and MORE holiday brochures ever stop? We must have produced enough to fill an entire branch of Lunn Poly by now, and there can’t have been a yellow or blue felt tip pen left working in the entire school. (Does Lunn Poly still exist, or has it gone the way of Presto and Hintons? Answers on the back of a booking form drawn in pencil with a Shatterproof ruler, please…)


Odd that I was put into ‘Group two’ for maths, as I don’t remember us being split off into different groups for any subject. I know I keep talking about ‘Topic Group’, but I’m pretty sure we all did the same stuff, we just had different teachers telling us about it to make us more manageable. What we definitely DIDN’T have was any kind of ‘streaming’ to system to suit different abilities, Levendale was a proudly progressive mixed-ability school.

Which basically meant that anybody who was actually any good at maths had, unfortunately, to cope with with innumerate knuckleheads like me, counting on my luminous socks and mumbling at bits of long division.


And yay! Nametags! Do kids still use these at school? A little inch-long tag with your name on them, attached to all your items of school clothing to stop smelly Christopher Herbert running off with your Adidas tracksuit bottoms, safe in the knowledge that nobody in their right mind was going to go within a country f***ing mile of his rancid clobber.

I think you could actually buy pre-printed tags (with your name embroidered on them… I think?) and then your Mum had to peel the backing off them, and iron them onto the inside of all your collars. And then six days later they’d all fall off and you’d have to go out and buy another load. Whoever made these must been coining it in, and probably now lives in a huge, rambling country mansion with their name emblazoned across the roof on a huge banner.

And – woah there – here’s another bit of bona fide 1984 excitement. I’ve got hold of the 1984 Radio Times for this very week! It has a cover advertising BBC1’s ace science programme QED, articles about Beryl Bainbridge and JB Priestley, a helpine for worried cross-stitchers, and John Craven’s Back Pages (for kids!!!) focuses on Ian Dury. Who says British culture has been dumbed down over the last 25 years?

Anyway a few highlights from Monday 26th March 1984…

1. Pages from CEEFAX accounting for two hours in total of BBC1’s daytime schedule, and three hours of BBC2’s.

2. ‘Well Woman’ on BBC1 at 2pm, ‘a look at the pros of cons of all contraceptive methods’. ARE YOU READING THIS, LOOSE WOMEN?!?!?

3. ‘Jackanory with Penelope Wilton’. Bestill my beating heart. I’d lie there in blissed-out rapture if she was reading to me from the Yellow Pages.

4. ‘World Figure Skating Gala’, 6.40pm live from Ottowa on BBC1. Torvill and Dean’s ‘last performance before turning professional’, which baffled me at the time. ‘So they’re amateurs, then Mam? REALLY? Blimey, the professional skaters must be AMAZING!!!’

5. ‘Sporting Chance’, 8.30pm on BBC2. ‘A series of eight programmes in which a number of well-known personalities take up the sport of their choice. This week, Anneka Rice and Martin Shaw continue with their chosen sports of orienteering and gliding, and newcomer Joe Brown tackles the French game of boules’. I WANT TO WATCH THIS!!!

6. ‘We Bring You Live Pictures…’, 11.35pm on BBC2. ‘Four programmes about the pioneering days of television outside broadcasts, narrated by John Craven’. See above.

My Dad probably watched the above by himself, glugging his cloudy home-brewed wine from a half pint glass then standing up to salute the national anthem before Open University came on and he turned off the standard lamp and went to bed.


  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Sporting Chance does sound unmissable doesn’t it? Maybe it was a bit like Channel Four’s The Games but with contestants who actually had a personality.

Your longing for Penelope Wilton would doubtless be inflamed still further if you saw the DVD that I watched only yesterday: it featured La Wilton in 1972 behaving rather saucily with Peter Firth. (But honestly, it seems very few people *didn’t* behave rather saucily with Peter Firth before that decade’s cameras)
Of course she was reeling off the addresses and telephone numbers of local take-aways and taxi firms the whole time, so there is a good chance that she was indeed reading from Yellow Pages.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Eurgh Lunn Poly. I did work experience there when I was at school. Every Wednesday afternoon for about 6 weeks. All they did was shove me upstairs to stamp holiday brochures! B******s

  Patsy wrote @

I remember the name tags – they were made by Cash – a firm that had existed for about 100 years and probably still exists today (fingers crossed). They used to make silk pictures too. I remember being really jealous of children that had them, and would finger samples enviously when I was taken to the
haberdashers. Do they still have them or the word today ?

  bobfischer wrote @

I reckon I might still have the odd name tag kicking around in boxes and bags of old clothes in the loft. If I can find one, I’ll scan it.

And Fiona, you’ll be pleased to realise that Lunn Poly no longer exist, swallowed up by Thompson Holidays in 2004, apparently. Think of it as belated revenge!

And I have no desire to see the pure and fragrant Penelope Wilton ‘behaving rather saucily’. Dr Parcel, can you give me more information about the title, price and availability of this DVD, just so I can take steps to ensure it never arrives in the Fischer household?

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