Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 88

Wednesday 28th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.15. Got the bus at 8.30 and first at school it was assembly. When we came out it was Topic groups and when that had finished me and Ozzie did some more of our brochure. Then I had a read and after doing some more brochure I had my dinner at 12.00.

In the afternoon I did a bit more of the brochure and then I had to do some maths about Quadrisides or something. When i’d done that I read for a bit and I had to do some of the brochure for the rest of the afternoon cos I’d done everything else.

Then we went in to the hall about Carlton and at 3.15 Mam came for me and we went into Yarm. Got a Tucker’s luck book. Came home at 4.30 and had tea, then I went outside and played football again. When I came in I played on the ZX81, then after another session outside I came in and watched Day of the Triffids at 7.40. Then I packed my Carlton case and went to bed at 9.30. 

I really don’t remember spending quite so long on these bloody holiday brochures… it’s been going on for months now, hasn’t it? No wonder I don’t like going away as an adult, I had enough sandy beaches and ‘deep blue seas’ in Spring 1984 to last me a lifetime. 


And ‘Quadrisides’… or something. I’ve absolutely no idea… I’ve been trying to use Google, but there’s really not a lot to go on. Either I’ve got the name wrong (which would be pretty unlike me, as I was extremely retentive, even as an 11-year-old) or it was a name one of our teachers had made up. I presume it’s a four-sided shape? Any qualified mathematicians able to shed any light on this?

Two days away from Carlton Outdoor Education Centre now, and things were starting to get frantic. I’m not sure what all these fifteen minute meetings were about, although I think a bit of information about our forthcoming activities was starting to filter through… we would go to church on the Sunday, we would sleep in bunk beds, we would walk on the moors until our tiny feet bled, we would have our mortal souls possessed by the Ghost of the Grey Lady.


It was also around this time that we had to choose a partner (of the same gender, naturally – there was to be no hanky panky at the Outward Bound centre) to share a bunk bed and a daily dinner table with. I’d hooked up with Gareth ‘Gazzie Jones’, which was great news for me and worse luck for him. He had hiking boots, a working knowledge of the moors, practical nous and – crucially – an auntie (Miss Burnett) who worked at the centre.

In return, I was a obsessive compulsive milksop scared of horses and Giant Hogweed, so it’s safe to say I got the better half of the deal. Sorry, mate. 

I bought my Tucker’s Luck book from the back room of Strickland and Holts gift shop, which had a nice selection of books – usually including the latest Fighting Fantasies although not, oddly enough, any Doctor Whos.


It was the one pictured, though… pretty much a word-for-word adaptation of the first TV series, with Tucker and his curly-permed mate Tommy swopping (gasp!) schoolgirl partners halfway through, chubby Alan moping into bacon sandwiches, and insane skinhead Ralph Passmore (bovver boots, braces, pork pie hat) chasing them all through building sites and suburban gardens. Good clean healthy fun, and still – as with so much of this stuff – now on the spare room shelf six feet away from me. And it’s got my name scrawled in the front, so I must have been intending to take it away to Carlton in the vague hope that a few literary pursuits would take my mind off the Grey Lady.  

Anyway, a few highlights from today’s Radio Times…

BBC2, 11am, Words And Pictures. ‘Trog And The Dog. Getting the sheep into the fold is a problem for the Trog family, until the Quickerwits show them how to train a dog to do the job for them’.

Marvellously bleak children’s TV, shown as part of BBC2’s ‘Schools and Colleges’ programme. And featuring, no doubt, the terrifying Wordy…

BBC1, 5.10pm Moonfleet. Part Six: ‘John and Elzevir are being transported to Java when their ship is caught in a storm. The crew take to the boats leaving the convicts’. The kind of splendidly worthy children’s drama that seems, sadly, to have gone the way of Presto supermarkets and Opal Fruits. Based on the 19th century novel by J Meade Falkner, and starring David ‘Nightmare of Eden’ Daker.


BBC1 9.25pm QED ‘Testing, Testing’ with Anthony Clare. ‘QED looks at how ordinary things are put through extraordinary tests. It’s a world of crashes, bangs – and worse…’

I grew to love BBC1’s popular science show QED, mainly because its opening title sequence (see below) always reminded me of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, but also because it was occasionally very quirky and did Adventure Game-style stuff about space exploration and time travel.

However, in the early 1980s, it was also showing utterly terrifying things like this…

We’ll have a bit of, erm, fun with the permanent 1984 threat of mutually assured nuclear armageddon as the year progresses. By means of a light-hearted taster, meanwhile, cop a load of this… on BBC1 at 11.20pm (and undoubtedly the best place for it)

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