Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Archive for March, 2009

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 82

Thursday 22nd March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 7.55 because Doctor Who was on breakfast telly and at 8.30 I went for the bus. At 9.00 He was just going to Worsall so I went and was the only one on the bus. Arrived at school at 9.15 and did maths and at 10.10 I went swimming.

First I had a much about, then I got my 50 metres. At 11.30 I came back and at 12.00 I had dinner. After dinner I read and at 1.45 we went out for football. We won 10-3 and I scored four times. Came home at 3.15 and at 3.30 I went down to Doug’s.

First we had some biscuits and orange and then we went outside and played on the Walkie Talkies. Then we went for a walk on Levendale and met Ramsey and Huggy. Came home at 6.00 and had tea and at 6.40 I watched Doctor Who with Colin Baker.

At 7.30 I watched Top of the pops and then I wrote some of my story. At 9.30 I went in the bath, then I went to bed.

Well, this was the day! The first day of the Sixth Doctor’s reign on TV, so naturally it was Colin Baker who perched himself on the BBC Breakfast Time settee while a pouting Selina Scott gently grilled him about all things Gallifreyan. Ironic that I got out of bed early for this, when actually I could have had an extensive lie-in, because (DRAMATIC MUSIC) the school bus was late!!!


So, as I was leaning on my usual road sign, the bus was heading in the opposite direction to usual, half an hour late in its journey to Worsall village to pick up a handful of rural stragglers (including my friend Phil Slack) before turning around to collect me and complete its journey to school. So I got an ultra-rare solo journey to Worsall, and was already stretched out on the back seat smoking a huge sweet cigarette when Slackie and the rest of the gang piled on.


I’ll also have missed Mrs Keasey calling out the register, and remember this was the pre-mobile phone era, so there’ll have been no way for anyone at the school to work out what happened to us bus-bound latecomers. It’s a wonder that the amazingly hairy Mr Chalkley didn’t scramble a SWAT Team of Levendale Primary School Gurkhas to hunt us down.

But yay! I got a swimming certificate! I think I’d picked up my 10m and 25m certificates years earlier, but the 50m had evaded me for a long time. I kept trying and kept pulling up with a length left to go, covered in snot and panting for breath. I was so far behind the rest of the school’s swimmers that I think by this stage I was the only one with the 50m certificate still not under my trunks, because – gasp – I definitely did this as a solo effort while the rest of the group sat on the sides and watched.


And did I collapse under the weight of this pressure and public scrutiny? Pffffft. Nope. I showboated it. On the final length, I could hear Doug and Frankie and Gazzie Jones shouting ‘GO ON FISCHER!’ and I paused in mid-stroke to give them a cheeky Steve Ovett-style wink, wave and thumbs up.

At which point I distinctly heard Mr Hirst say ‘Stop showing off and finish the damn thing or we’ll be here all afternoon…’

And what better way to round off a fine day’s worth of sporting activity than with four girls in our afternoon kickabout? No doubt with Mr Hirst sporting his Bullet Baxter tracksuit (plain red Adidas, with the treble stripe all the way down both arms and legs) and ‘refereeing’, although he was the only referee I ever saw who would occasionally barge one of the strikers out of the way to apply a thunderous finish himself.

On the rare occasions when we were allowed to have the ball ourselves, it was also worth working on a few little routines to accompany the feat. Those of us useless enough not to make the school team would compensate for our ineptness by accompanying our on-the-ball actions with a) a running commentary, and b) the occasional fanfare. The school playing field was constantly awash with cries of ‘Fischer’s got the ball… oh, he’s beaten one man, and another… brings it down… TA-DAAAAAAAA… DIDDLE IDDLE DIDDLE… it’s a sensation… and BRRRRRAMMMMMM!!! He lamps it over into the playground because he’s got feet shaped like bananas’.


We’ll have eaten Mint Viscount biscuits at Doug’s. We always did. And we’ll have drank Presto’s own brand Orange Squash, a pale pink concoction that would have made the Man from Del Monte shake his head and blow through his cheeks, before ditching the white suit forever and dressing like Johnny Cash for the rest of his working life.

‘Huggy’, meanwhile, was Paul Huggins, who I’ve mentioned before – a strapping, sporty lad who liked a laugh and became increasingly good mates with Doug and me at this time. And ‘Ramsey’ was Graham Ramsey, one of my oldest mates from Levendale, another good footballer with a mop of black hair. They both lived around the top of the ‘cut’ seen in Diary Entry Volume 74.

ANYWAY!!! Doctor Who… and, of course, Part One of The Twin Dilemma, Colin Baker’s debut episode. Now, this story holds bitter-sweet memories for me, and probably not for the reasons you’re expecting. Yes, Colin Baker was BRILLIANT, Nicola Bryant was BRILLIANT, the twins themselves were BRILLIANT and the whole story and stuff and everything was BRILLIANT.


But I knew I’d never ever get to see Parts Three and Four in my whole life, because the following week I was off to Carlton Outdoor Education Centre, thousands of miles away from my front room TV, and nobody in my family owned a video recorder yet.

Curse you, Grey Lady of Carlton Camp. Curse you…

(and I’ve just remembered, we haven’t had a scary ghost picture from the ‘Myths, Monsters and Legends’ book in our school library for ages now. Here you go…)


And what would have been on Top Of The Pops? Why undoubtedly this little gem, at Number One in the charts that week…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 81

Wednesday 21st March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school we went into Topic groups and we had to answer some questions. When we came out we had to do our own holiday brochure cover, and I did that all morning.

Had dinner at 12.00 and in the afternoon I finished my poster and after maths groups I did my maths. At 3.15 I went in for Boy’s games but Doug and Ozzie couldn’t go so my team was Gazzie, me and Tweddal, as it was indoor. We lost two and won one.

At 4.00 I walked home and met Doug, and we played with the CBs at his house. Came home at 5.30 and had tea, then I started a new Fighting Fantasy. At 7.40 I watched Day of the Triffids and at 8.30 I watched Fresh Fields. At 9.00 I watched Minder and at 10.00 I went to bed.

I’ve been holding this back for a while, but it’s probably time to unleash it… here’s a little re-enactment of my daily morning wander into school…

It felt incredibly strange to be standing in that playground again after SO many years away… it actually felt like I was visiting a film location, or somewhere I’d only seen on TV.


And when I looked into the little square of green outside the main body of the school, I was assaulted by an astonishing rush of memories and images… being showered with water during a science experiment with beakers; the luridly bright colours of Star Wars Weekly covers; banging a triangle in an unsuccessful school orchestra try-out; Mrs Keasey in a lilac suit marking our huge, green-backed register in baking sunshine.

And the terrifying, paranoia-inducing rattle of school dinner money in a British Home Stores trouser pocket. Don’t lose it… don’t lost it… don’t lose it…   

Anyway, I like the phrase ‘we went into Topic groups and we had to answer some questions’, which conjures up images of Mr Hirst shining a standard lamp into our faces, setting a breezeblock-sized reel-to-reel tape recorder rolling, and interrogating us with such pertinent inquiries as ‘What the hell do you actually DO all day, Fischer?’


At least I had a ‘poster’ to work on. I’m not sure exactly what this was, but I suspect it was, again, tied into our teaching staff’s forthcoming summer holiday in Tenerife. I was a half-decent artist at school (certainly up there with my closest rival, Stephen Mason, although neither of us could hold a candle to Jo Spayne) so I tended to get seconded into felt tip duties wherever possible.

The holiday brochure we were making was a joint effort between Doug, Ozzie and myself, and I distinctly remember Doug repeatedly nudging me like Eric Idle in the famous Monty Python sketch and whispering ‘Go on… draw a topless woman on the cover… go on…’

We should have never have been allowed near that nuddy calendar, it was clearly leading us into a sleazy web of vice and muck. You watch, within a fortnight we’ll be trudging the streets of Soho in our parkas, drinking Bass Shandy in the Raymond Revue Bar and grunting erotic fiction into our Walkie Talkies.


Speaking of which, you’ll notice our plastic, toy Walkie Talkies (with the 100m range – providing you held them two feet above your head and shouted into them like Windsor Davies’ Sgt Major – SHAAAADDDAPPPPPPP!) have now metamorphosed into the rather grander-sounding ‘CBs’.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Who was I trying to kid? I’d seen ‘Convoy’ on ITV in the Summer of 1983, and it had clearly stuck in my head. And I’ve now just had a terrifying flashback of sitting on Doug’s bed pooling our knowledge of American CB Radio slang and scribbling it down on a piece of lined A4 paper for us to use. Oh, wow! Off the top my head…

’10-4′ – Yes, I can hear you from around the corner of the sweets aisle in Walter Wilson’s.

‘I’m eyeball to eyeball with Smokey’ – PC Bedford is about to tell me off for riding my bike on the pavement.

‘I got my ears on, good buddy’ – I’m standing withy my Walkie Talkie two feet above my head, shouting into it like Windsor Davies’ Sgt Major.

‘I’m puttin’ the pedal to the metal’ – I’ve got to go home for my fishfingers, or my Mam will absolutely knack me when I get in.

I think we both had a handwriting sheet of jargon, and genuinely used to jabber away at each other while reading from it, thirty feet apart in the middle of Yarm High Street.

Anyway, a lovely delve into the TV Times for this day reveals the following nuggets…

1. A sensational double bill of Aussie soap! ‘A Country Practice’ at 2.30pm (‘The town turns out for a funeral, and there is conflict between two brothers’) and ‘The Young Doctors’ at 3.30… ‘Drama is provided by the lives and loves of the staff and patients.’ Pretty vague there, TV Times. Come on, get your act together.

2. ‘Luna’ at 4.20pm. ‘Futuristic children’s series with its own language. Andy is malpurposing all over the ‘viron again and it is time for his Molecular and Orthomechanical Tests (MOT). 8OH is after an egressing legibreach perpetrator and 32C is worried about her laugh lines’.

Why didn’t I watch this?!?! It sounds brilliant! ‘A Clockwork Orange’ for the ZX Spectrum generation…

(By the way, what IS Penny Cook actually doing in this clip?)

3. In ‘Fresh Fields’, ‘William (Anton Rodgers) discovers the true meaning of ‘Jaws’, and in ‘Minder’, ‘Arthur’s sortie into haute couture lacks the glamour he anticipated when he, not Terry, ends up minding the frocks. Oracle sub-titles page 170’.

I also notice that, on weekdays, Channel 4 doesn’t start broadcasting until 5pm. Making them possibly the only people in 1984 doing less during their average working daytimes than me.

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary.. Volume 80

Tuesday 20th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school I met Doug, then I went in for hymn practice. After that I did Topic and we had to do a piece of writing on our own island. When i’d done that I did maths and then me and Ozzie read a new Fighting Fantasy called Deathtrap dungeon which Slackie had brought in.

At 12.00 I had dinner and at 12.30 I went in for computer club. Me and Ozzie did the writing part for the Guardian. Came out at 1.45 and me and Oz read the rest of Deathtrap Dungeon. Came home at 3.15 and went down to Doug’s, and we went to Yarm and took the Talkers.

First we went in Newsfare, then Hintons, then we went to Strickies and we had a look at the books. I got the 2 new Fighting Fantasies. Then I went home and had tea, and then me and mam took Poggy Doggy for a walk. At 6.40 I watched Tucker’s luck. Then I read my books and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Oh, the excitement! As I shambled off the school bus, Doug came racing across the playground to meet me, and we both jumped up and down on the spot for ten minutes solid as we celebrated house-to-house contact on Doug’s toy Walkie Talkies! (see yesterday’s entry).

Well, not quite house-to-house, as Doug revealed that he’d got halfway between his place and mine (a distance of about a quarter of a mile) before my strange, high-pitched ‘OBLEDEEEE’ signal crackled out of his receiver. But still… this was clearly THE FUTURE OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION and much better than those rubbish ‘phone’ things whose global network of influence was just tantamount to showing off.


(By the way, in 1984 our old phone still looked like this… I think this is gorgeous, and I want one in my office, even if the process of dialling a modern mobile number will require at least ten minutes to complete and might lead to early onset arthritis in my right index finger.


I told my friend Stuart this week that I still remembered my old phone number from being a kid, with the ancient ‘0642’ dialling code at the start. He suggested I try calling it straight away, to see if we could get through to my Dad in 1984. A non-starter, really… it doesn’t matter what era you phoned my Dad in, he’d just grunt and shout ‘Doreen, it’s for you…’)

ANYWAY! Basically… a school day of which the entire afternoon was spent playing on the computer and then racing through the new Fighting Fantasy book! And they say kids today are lazy, self-obsessed and only interested in computer games. Pfffft… we had all of that cracked over 25 years ago.


Slackie was Phil Slack, and he was – and is – great. A fabulous sandy-haired anarchist who, even at the age of 11, acted like a heavy metal drummer. It was practice that stood him in good stead though, because when I bumped into him in the mid-1990s, for the first time in years, he was indeed… a heavy metal drummer. He gets a mention in ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’, in the Discworld chapter, because in our teenage years he became Flaxman Orcslayer, scourge of the Dungeons and Dragons table round at Neil ‘Elrond Goldenbow’ Braithwaite’s house.

All of that was to come though… in 1984 he was just our mate Phil, who liked Fighting Fantasy books and pulling moonies in PE lessons.

Anyway, Deathrap Dungeon! Here it is:


An utter classic of the genre, set in the ‘twisting labyrinth of Fang’, where Ozzie and I took up the ‘Trial of Champions, devised by the devilish mind of Baron Sukumvit, riddled with fiendish traps and hideous creatures of darkness’. 

Sounds like Middlesbrough town centre on a Thursday night. And I should know, I’ve just driven through there on my way home from work.

Ozzie and I spent over two hours of our school day ‘reading in the library’ with Slackie’s copy, and I think we actually completed it, although admittedly we didn’t bother messing around with any of that paper and pencil nonsense, we just stuck fingers in the book to mark every decision. And if we were killed by a Mirror Demon or a Manticore, we could easily retreat to the previous finger.

This could obviously get complicated, and at one point we had at least six different fingers (three each) stuck into the pages of the book, contorting ourselves into strange, perverted shapes as we prepared to face the evil Skeleton Warrior (turn to 331). The following day, we saw Mr Hirst pinning up a note to the effect that ‘PLAYING “TWISTER” IN THE SCHOOL LIBRARY IS EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN’ but we were sure it must just have been a strange coincidence.


Off to Yarm, then, with the ‘Talkers’, clearly essential accessories in case Doug found himself marooned in Aisle 7 of Hinton’s supermarket and needed to urgently contact me over by the chewing gum (or ‘chuddy’) rack.


The ‘other’ Fighting Fantasy, by the way, was ‘Island Of The Lizard King’. They came out on the same day. £1.50 each, so I spent a massive £3 on books in one fell swoop!  Still, surely worth it for the chance to fight the ‘mad and dangerous Lizard King, who holds sway over his land of mutants by the strange powers of black magic and voodoo…’

Come here Ozzie, I need any fingers you can spare…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 79

Monday 19th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school I went into assembly and when we came out it was Topic groups, and we had to take notes down about Tenerife. Then when we came out I did some writing on Tenerife. At 12.00 I had dinner and after dinner we went into Maths groups.

Then we came out and me and Pond’s Eye started some fractions, but  I went into Topic group again and didn’t get it finished. At 3.15 I came home and at 3.30 I went to Doug’s. Met him half way.

At his house we played on the Walkie Talkies and in the hut. At 5.15 I came home and brought a Walkie talkie to radio Doug from house to house. At 5.20 I had tea and at 5.30 I picked Doug up on the WT. Then I read my Beano and generally mucked about and at 8.00 I watched Points of view. At 8.10 I watched Duty Free and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Yikes! Further proof, as if any were required, that our so-called ‘Topic’ groups were merely an excuse for Mr Hirst and Mrs Keasey to have us researching their potential summer holidays (not spent together, I should probably stress). ‘We had to take notes down about Tenerife’!!! For crying out loud, it’s a slippery slope from this to testing Presto’s own brand Sun Cream with a bunsen burner and using long multiplication to calculate the most cost-effective brand of Sangria (Walter Wilson’s, in case you were wondering).


I never went on holiday as kid. I think my Mum and Gran attempted to take me to Scarborough for a week in 1976, and I cried so much that they gave it up as a bad job and brought me home after three days.  It’s an attitude towards ‘getting away from it all’ that I’ve never quite shaken off. I hate going on holiday, I get bored after about eight hours and start looking for Wi-Fi connections. It’s probably hereditary: my Dad is exactly the same, and as such my childhood excursions were limited to day trips to York, High Force waterfall and Lightwater Valley.

So let’s take this further opportunity to emphasise how utterly terrified I was by the prospect of going to Carlton Outdoor Education Centre for a week at the end of March 1984… and it wasn’t ALL down to the Ghost of the Grey Lady.

Although I’ll shamelessly plug ahead and reveal that myself and one of my Levendale Primary School contemporaries spent a full day last weekend tramping around the moors and making TEN (yes TEN) ‘Then and Now’ films to parade on this website when the time comes. Yay!

Tantalising eh? (You can say ‘no’ if you like,  I won’t be offended).


In the meantime,  Walkie Talkies! I’d forgotten all about them. They were Doug’s, and I think they’d been lying disused in a box under his bed since some long-distant birthday party. We used to spend the occasional afternoon ‘mucking about’ in Doug’s bedroom, which was a little cubby hole with a single bed pushed up against the wall. Four things that intrigued me about Doug’s bedroom…

1. He had a Spiderman duvet. I wasn’t intrigued by Spiderman (the webby little bugger was everywhere in 1984) but I’d never had much experience of duvets before. Our beds at home still consisted of a nylon sheet on top of the bed, another nylon sheet on top of this (and you inserted yourself between the two), a fuzzy nylon blanket with a lovely, soft-feeling cool polyester strip across the top that I loved to rub across my face, and a blue or yellow nylon bedspread.

Our house generated so much static electricity at bedtime that Poggy Doggy was frequently able to float downstairs for a drink.

2. He didn’t have any wallpaper. His smooth, shiny walls had been tastefully plastered and painted over with a thin layer of Adriatic Cyan by Crown Paints. I’d never seen this before, as there wasn’t a single inch of our house that wasn’t coated in Vymura blown vinyl and smothered in Magnolia Emulsion. I asked my Dad if I could have the same effect in my bedroom, to which he replied ‘You must be joking, this bloody house has got walls like Wookey Hole’.

3. He had a hand-held Donkey Kong machine on his bedside table. He’d bought it in a stopover at Singapore Airport on the way to visit his Mum’s family in Australia, and could get to Level 7 without losing a life. I thought this was the singularly most exotic and impressive thing I’d ever heard. Especially the bit about Level 7, as the end of Level 6 was an absolute bugger.  

I’m amazed to say I’ve found a brilliant picture of the exact thing that Doug had! This was it…


4. The Walkie Talkies. I bet you thought we’d never get there.  

These were very much toys rather than anything you could actually practically USE to keep in touch with each other, but they did just about work. They were leightweight bits of plastic with a wobbly aerial on the top and a big orange button on the side, but with the addition of a couple of HP11 batteries, it was possible to hear distant, crackly, distorted versions of each others voices. Imagine the teachers voices from Charlie Brown. Over the phone. And then routed through a faulty baby alarm. With a low battery. 

Although their range was so short that it was usually much easier and more effective just to shout to each other…

Still, it didn’t stop us concocting an Important Scientific Experiment. I took one of the Walkie Talkies home with me, and we agreed that at exactly 5.30pm (just after tea) I would lean out of my bedroom window and begin shouting the strange, secretly coded signal of ‘OBBLEDEEEEE’ (done in a weird, high-pitched voice – no, me neither) repeatedly into my Walkie Talkie while Doug set out from his house half a mile away and walked slowly towards mine until he picked up the signal. 

And it worked! I still remember the utter thrill when, after a few minutes, a distorted version of Doug’s dulcet tones (Imagine the teachers voices from Charlie Brown. Over the phone. And then… etc) came crackling out of my tiny speaker. It only lasted a few seconds, but I was jumping around with excitement. I felt like Alexander Graham Bell speaking to Thomas Watson, although they probably had a better signal than we did.

Of course,  I had no idea how close Doug had got before picking up my ‘OBBLEDEEEEE’s, that revelation would have to wait until school the following morning.

Consider that a cliffhanger… dot… dot… dot…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 78

Sunday 18th March 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and woke Doug up. We got up at 9.00 and sketch a graphed a picture of Tegan. At 10.00 Doug’s dad came and we went swimming. Came back to my house at 11.30, got some wood and went back to Doug’s house and started to make the back of the hut.

Then at 2.00 we went in and had dinner. Then we went out again and had a muck on before we finished the back with polythene, and also did the roof. Then we carried the hut out into the garden and put plastic bags under it. Then we went inside it and had some food and a drink and at 5.00 I went home.

At 5.15 I watched it ain’t half hot mum and then I went to sleep. At 7.15 I watched One by One and at 8.00 I wrote my diary. At 8.45 I had a bath and at 9.20 I watched That’s life. 10.10 Went to bed.

Clearly an exhausting day, largely because I’ll have hardly slept at all on the Saturday night. I found it really, really difficult sleeping when I had a mate over to stay… purely through the sheer excitement of something SO different to the norm. Doug, conversely, crashed out like a log as soon as I stopped talking (or, more accurately, about twenty minutes before) and I remember lying in the darkness listening to his breathing and trying desperately to nod off, but never quite managing it.


I must have dozed off sometime in the early hours though, and I remember shaking Doug’s shoulder as sunlight poured through my Star Wars curtains, and Princess Leia wafted seductively in the draught. Time, of course, for Doug to help me further cultivate my increasingly worrying crush on Janet Fielding…

The ‘Sketch A Graph’ had been bought for me from a fly-by-night stall in Middlesbrough’s Cleveland Centre shopping arcade about six months earlier. It looked exactly like this…


In theory, it allowed you to draw an exact copy of anything you liked. In theory, you bunged a pencil in the hole at the end, and – in theory – traced the other end (which had a little white pointer underneath it) around the outlines of your favourite picture. And, in theory, hey presto! You are – in theory – an ace caricaturist who can churn out accurate pencil drawings of any celebrity in the word, and nobody will ever guess your shady Sketch-A-Graph secret.   

In practice, pretty much every picture you attempted came out looking like Les Dawson. It’s a  job I actually LIKED Les Dawson, as I had hundreds of shaky pencil outlines of him scattered around my bedroom floor. I think Doug had come within a whisker of turning on his heel when I’d first suggested he stay over for the night.


Great to see our garden hideaway hut being finished as well! I still think this was an amazing achievement for two eleven-year-olds. It was about six feet wide, four feet deep and four feet high, made of solid wood with a door and a plastic window in the front, a sloping roof coated with polythene to let the rain slide off, and a little shelf inside to put drinks and plates of biscuits on.

From the front, it looked like this…


It just about housed the pair of us, sitting down. We plonked it in Doug’s garden around the back of his garage, partially sheltered from the elements and invisible from any window in the house. Truly, it was our little refuge from the world.

And I remember clearly the ‘went in and had dinner’ bit, because Doug’s family’s dinner table conversation was always a little bit franker than my own chunterings to my parents. So, as we chomped on Mother’s Pride ham sandwiches, and guzzled on Robinson’s Lemon Squash, the conversation went a bit like this…

Doug: Dad, can we have your nuddy calendar for the hut? (This, remember, was an ancient 1980-ish calendar that we’d found hanging at the back of the garage… stockings, suspenders, women with pneumatic figures and incredibly hairy groins, that kind of thing).


Doug’s Dad (without batting an eyelid): Yep.

Jenny (Doug’s 14-year-old sister): I know it’s only naked women, but jeez – that thing’s pornographic.

Doug’s Mum: What is pornography, though? Where do you draw the line?

Me: Eeeeeep (going bright red and choking on my sandwich)

Doug’s Dad: Make this the last project though, eh? (He wasn’t bothered about the calender, but I think he was sick of having his best bits of wood nicked from under his nose)

So we took the nuddy calendar, and pinned it up on the inside of the hut. Making the interior look a bit like this…


And then we went outside and sat in it. For hours. Talking about nothing and flicking idly through the nuddy calendar. Eating Mint Viscount biscuits and listening to the rain hammering against the polythene-coated roof. Fogging up the window with our breath. Fiddling with each others parkas. Our own private Idaho, and I wanted to stay there forever. 

Although at the same time I was, obviously, concocting elaborate schemes in my head to ensure that my Mum NEVER EVER EVER found out that we had a vintage nuddy calendar hidden in our den.

No wonder I was physically and mentally drained, and fell asleep for two hours after Sunday dinner.

Anyway, I’m delighted to report that I’ve recently obtained a prized relic from this very week in 1984. I have the TV Times, with vital television listings for Tyne Tees and Channel 4! Looking at the line-up for Sunday 18th March is like opening a fogged-up, plastic window into the past.

‘Morning Worship’, live from Dundee!
‘Aap Kaa Hak’, the advice programme for Asian viewers!
‘Weekend World’ with Brian Walden!
‘Metal Mickey’, and ‘The Big Match’ with Brian Moore!
‘CHiPs’ and ‘Bullseye’ with specia guest, Lionel Blair!
‘Highway’ with Harry Secombe in the Mountains of Mourne!
‘Family Fortunes’ with Max Bygraves!
‘Live From Her Majesty’s’ with Brenda Lee, Jimmy Cricket and David Essex!
‘Spitting Image’ – the third ever episode! (We didn’t watch this, we were always more a ‘That’s Life!’ household)

And, brilliantly, Channel 4 doesn’t switch on until 1.25pm, so if you pushed the button before that you’d doubtless end up with this…

Worth hanging around until 4.15pm though, for ‘Jack’s Game’… ‘Jack Charlton joins a grouse shooting party on the Lancashire moors’. Bizarrely, Charlton had just rejoined struggling Middlesbrough (to give them their full title) for a brief two-month spell as manager. He clearly needed to release a bit of pent-up tension with a twelve bore. Are you reading this, Gareth Southgate? Get your plus fours at the ready…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 77

Saturday 17th March 1984

Woke up at 8.15 and watched TVAM and at 8.30 I watched Godzilla. At 9.00 I watched Saturday Superstore with Colin Baker on and at 10.00 I got up. At 11.00 Doug rang and came down, and we went into Yarm.

First we got some shandy, then we had some beefburger and chips. Then we went in the library, got some sweets and went to Doug’s house. We needed some wood, so we went to my house and got some, Then we went back to Doug’s with the wheelbarrow.

We hammered the wood on the hut and I did a Poggy Doggy poster for the side. The we put on the roof, the side and the front. After that I went to my house to find some more wood, and then went back to Doug’s to tell him there was.

So we went back to my house and asked mam if Doug could sleep. She said yes so we went back to Doug’s and his mam said yes. Then we went to my house and watched Some Mothers do ave em at 6.40. Then we played on the ZX81 and at 9.10 We watched Driving Ambition. At 10.00 We went to bed and read until 10.30.

Bumper diary entry! We did SO MUCH on this day that it’s actually written up in teeny tiny handwriting that gets even smaller towards the bottom of the page before descending into a virtually microscopic scrawl.

But what a sensational day of action!

OK, Saturday Superstore did indeed feature Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant in full Doctor Who costume frantically plugging Part One of The Twin Dilemma, now five days away from transmission and I couldn’t wait because I knew it was just going to be the BEST DOCTOR WHO EVER!!!

Here’s a little snippet…

(Presumably Anthony Ainley didn’t have much on that morning, although admittedly that’s probably not a thought that you want to linger over…)

Given that my house was a mile from Yarm High Street and Doug’s house was exactly halfway between the two, I walked a grand total of five miles on this day, sorting out the food, wood and sleeping-over situations. No wonder we had to stop in Yarm for beefburger, chips and a cheeky shandy…


I remember this really well. Being out, on our own, and sorting out our own food always gave us a lovely feeling of independence, and on this day – a nice, bright, breezy Saturday afternoon – it felt as though nothing could ever go wrong in our world. We bought our takeaway din-dins from the splendidly low-rent Yarm Fisheries, and ate them on a wooden bench in a little shady alleyway that cut through the middle of the Strickland and Holt gift shop.

Here it is – the alleyway is on the left, under the ‘Central Wynd’ sign…


…nowadays the shop has extended into the posh Joe Rigatoni’s restaurant, which seals off the end of the alleyway. But back in 1984 it was completely open-ended, and trundled down to the sluggish riverbank, which had a staggering, overpowering aroma of its own when Yarm’s ancient ‘skinyard’ (basically a crumbling, tannery factory whose towering chimney dominated the skyline) was in full flow.


And we got told off on this day! Because (gasp!) we shook up our cans of Bass Shandy to make them fizz all over the pavement. With, of course, proper ring-pulls that came off and could be chucked into a ditch in their own right rather than having to remain attached to the rest of the can when you fly-tip it.    


As we did so, an angry man with a straggly moustache leaned out of a shop window and shouted ‘Oy! Jack that in! Somebody’s got to clean all that up, and I’m bloody sure it won’t be you two, will it?’

I tried to recreate the scene again today on the same wooden bench, but my otherwise iconic can of Bass Shandy let me down a bit. Carbonated water just ain’t what it used to be…

I wanted to make a slightly longer film, but there were some old ladies looking at me and I got scared.

But yay! Our hut was nearly finished. This was, of course, to be our garden hideaway from the adult world, and I don’t think I’d ever been so proud of anything. And I’d never had a friend quite like Doug before, someone that I saw almost every single day, and we ALWAYS found a new adventure to throw ourselves into. There’s something utterly lovely about sharing new experiences with a really good mate, and when you’re eleven years old, almost EVERYTHING is a new experience. Life was peachy. When I’ve finished transcribing this diary at the end of the year, my next project is to build a time machine so I can have JUST ONE single day of 1984 to live again.

I won’t bugger up the time lines, I promise. I’ll just watch us from street corners and bring back some better quality Bass Shandy.

But anyway, yes… all of this meant that it was high time Doug spent the night kipping over at my place. It was the first time either of us had stayed over at the other’s house, and it was obvious that we had to negotiate the deal using every last scrap of guile, cunning and emotional blackmail in our cynical little armouries.


So we concocted our plan over Bass Shandy and beefburgers. Saturday was, as we both knew well, shopping day for both of our mothers. So Wwen Doug came to my house ‘for the wood’, he eagerly threw himself into helping my Mum stack up tins of Presto Beans and endless bottles of Chop Sauce into our beige plastic cupboards. And when I went back to Doug’s ‘with the wheelbarrow’,  I did the same in his family kitchen.

And when it came to the crunch moment of asking our respective mothers if ‘Doug can stay over tonight’, both of them put their heads to one side and said ‘Aaaaaawwww… since you’ve been so good today, yes’.

Then we jumped up and down in with excitement in Doug’s garage shouting ‘WILLIES! WILLIES! WILLIES! WILLIES!’ and throwing empty cans of Bass Shandy into the air.

As an only child, the prospect of having a friend around to stay for the night was unbelievably exciting, and a relative rarity for me. And, despite the presence of a perfectly serviceable spare room in my Dad’s (oh yes) haunted extension, it was important that we both camped down together in my room. So I slept on a lurid, 1970s flowery folding bed on the floor (although I’m still not sure what type of flower has blue, fawn and orange petals with a slight flare at the end) and Doug crashed out under the tatty yellow blanket on my bed.


And did we ‘read until 10.30’? Did we bollocks. That’s for the benefit of my mother. We stayed awake until midnight, talking about filth in the darkness, pulling funny faces into the light of a Pifco torch, farting out loud and… well, being eleven years old.

Oh, and writing yesterday’s diary entry, of course. Doug laughed out loud at the line about the toilet.

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 76

Friday 16th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school we had Topic groups then I went to the toilet and after that I did a Topic sheet. Then we went in for Maths group and at 12.00 I had dinner.

In the afternoon I had a read and then I did some Fractions. At 2.00 We went out for football and got beaten by a bunch of wets lead by Scottie 7-0. Then we came in and had assembly and at 3.15 I came home.

At 3.30 I went to Doug’s and we tidied up the shed and smashed in a heap of junk called ROB-E. Came home at 5.30 and had tea and at 6.40 I watched Doctor Who (regenerated). Then I played on the ZX81 and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Ooookaaaay… can anyone spot the slight change of tone in this diary entry?

My usual 1984 jottings are very precise and detailed, but above all they’re very polite and well-mannered. I don’t usually write about anything nasty or (ahem) icky, and I’m certainly not offensive about anyone. So what prompted the staggering and entirely unprecedented ‘went to the toilet’, ‘bunch of wets’ and ‘heap of junk’ remarks on this particular day?


Was I drunk on an illicit supply of Harp Lager? High on the noxious fumes of a Presto bag filled with Bostik? The answer is, if anything, slightly more embarrassing than either of these possibilities.

I was showing off.

My diary entry for this day was, in fact, written the following night. I’d started to get ever-s0-slightly slovenly with my regime, and sometimes missed a few nights worth of scribbling before catching up with vaguely sloppy recaps of several days of vintage 1984 action all written in the same session.

So my diary entry for Friday 16th March was actually written on the night of Saturday 17th March, when – wait for it – Doug was staying over at my house. So all of this considerably-cheekier-than-usual guff was written in giggling semi-darkness in my bedroom, sprawled on a portable folding bed with Doug chortling over my shoulder and me playing the wise-cracking cheeky sod.  

Which probably explains why it’s a bit shorter than usual as well. Still a few nice little nuggets in there, though. The ‘bunch of wets’ that hammered my lot at football clearly weren’t ‘wet’ as well, especially as they were being led by Tim ‘Scottie’ Scott, a perfectly nice lad who happened to be bloody good at football. Although we became very good mates in our teenage years, I had a strange, rumbling rivalry with Scottie at primary school, and I think most of it was down to my conviction that I was by far the superior footballer – a giddy mix of Charlie Nicholas and John Barnes – cruelly robbed of my deserved recognition while his skills were unfairly lauded. By Mr Hirst.

Not true at all of course… I could barely knock a ball ten yards in a straight line, while Scottie was a fine 11-year-old midfield general. As the humiliating 7-0 scoreline suggests. I was also, as you might have gathered, an UNBELIEVABLY sore loser as a kid.

I would sulk. I would mutter. I would blame everybody from Doug to Mr Hirst to Joao Havelange for my inadequacies. In later years, of course, I’ve learnt to accept that being one of life’s losers gains me the higher moral ground, and have gone on to revel in a life of perennial underachivement…

And NO!!!! Rest in peace, ROB-E. Having stripped our home-made wooden robots of his vital components, we finally brought about his dignified end. By, erm, smashing him to bits with hammers in Doug’s garage so we could use the resulting bits of wood for our new garden hut. Being a devout Doctor Who fan, I’ll be generous and call it a regeneration.

Except, of course, I had the genuine article to watch! Oh yes, tonight was the night… Part Four of The Caves Of Androzani, and therefore the fateful and historic occasion on which Peter Davison slumps to the TARDIS floor, manfully steers his gaze away from Nicola Bryant’s astonishing cleavage, and collapses into a halo of regenerative energy (with Janet Fielding in it)…


I still think this is the best regeneration sequence the show has ever had, and even now I feel a little tingle shoot up my spinal cortex whenever I watch it. When Tom Baker’s Doctor had regenerated in 1981, I was just an eight-year-old viewer… I liked the show, but was no more obsessive about it than I was about, say, Juliet Bravo or The Generation Game or any of the other TV shows I liked watching.

But by 1984 I was an eleven-year-old FAN, and Doctor Who had become my TV raison d’etre. I was fully aware at the time that I was watching HISTORY IN THE MAKING (forget the Miner’s strike and the global nuclear weapons escalation… pffft), and at the end of the show I was filled with a mixture of exhilaration, vague grief and utter, unbridled excitement.

And an almost insatiable desire to watch the WHOLE THING AGAIN NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW but, of course, I couldn’t. We didn’t have a video recorder in the house until Christmas 1987.  

I could probably have tried to encapsulate a little bit more of this in my 1984 Diary, but hey… Doug was watching, and I didn’t want him to think I was a wet…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary…Volume 75

Thursday 15th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00 (Doctor Who was on Breakfast Time). First at school we had to sketch an object that we had brought (I had brought My Dwarf in a bottle) Then we went in to practice for a play in assembly about Jonah. Me and Frankie were muggers (!) and Doug was Jonah.

Then we went into the hall and practiced. At 12.00 I had dinner and after dinner we went in the hall for another practice. When we came out I did some Maths and my RE and then we went in the hall at 2.45 and did the play in assembly. Came home at 3.15 and played on the ZX81.

Then I went outside and played Football and at 4.30 I had tea. At 4.45 I watched The Book Tower. At 5.15 I watched Happy Days. Then I went out again and at 6.40 I came in and watched Doctor Who. Then I played on the ZX81 and at 8.30 I had supper.

Doctor Who on Breakfast Time! It’s a wonder I made it out to my allocated road sign in time to meet the school bus. I think this was a feature based around the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, with composer Malcolm Clarke telling Frank Bough and Sally Magnusson about his fiddly synthy work on Resurrection Of The Daleks. Complete with CLIPS! It had CLIPS! We didn’t have a video in 1984, and Doctor Who was rarely repeated, so the opportunity to see even a few seconds of a CLIP from a previous show was easily worth missing a bowl of Sugar Puffs for.

Anyway, it’s on the Resurrection Of The Daleks DVD, if anyone fancies reliving it…

My ‘Dwarf in a bottle’ was a weird thing, it had been bought as a present for me by some far-flung relative returning from some cheap and cheesy holiday somewhere (details are sketchy, just like my… erm, sketch) and it was Exactly How It Sounds. A wobbly-headed toy dwarf with a wispy cotton wool beard stuck in a glass bottle and kept on my bedroom windowsill.

I used to convince myself it was a butch and credible thing to have, a ‘dwarf’ in the classic Fighting Fantasy dragon-knacking sense. In actual fact it looked more like one of Ken Dodd’s Diddymen. 


Good to see the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale being updated to include the uber-eighties criminal types that were ‘muggers’! Does anyone ever use the word ‘muggers’ any more? In the mid-1980s, ‘muggers’ were everywhere. They were universally acknowledged to be glue-sniffing skinheads in braces and ‘bovver boots’ who ‘mugged’ defenceless grannies in broad daylight and spent the resulting spoils on Harp Lager and Bostik. Just like Passmore in Tucker’s Luck.


Some modern interprations of the Jonah story suggest that the ‘whale’ is merely an allegorical literary reference to the trials of the devout, however Mrs Keasey was having no truck with his, and so our ‘whale’ consisted of two gigantic blue gym mats (see yesterday’s entry!) being operated by a visibly wilting Mark Pitfield in a ‘chomp chomp’ motion while poor Frankie pretended to be swallowed up.

Not sure where the ‘muggers’ came in (we probably just half-inched Jonah’s pension book and ran around to see if the VG Shop had any Bostik) but you’ll notice Paul Frank being visibly groomed for the title part in Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with another lead performance here. Stardom (and the chance to sing ‘Any Dream Will Do’ while wearing a Debenham’s duvet cover) clearly beckoned.

He still had a long way to go, though. This was mine and Doug’s third school assembly appearance in eight weeks, leading to strogn Evening Gazette grumblings about our overexposure and the nature of  modern celebrity. Verily, we were the Horne and Corden of our era (we actually did a few jokes, though).

Another solo kickabout in the garden as well, so no doubt my long-standing fantasy about being a Vampire boy from the planet Drexal will have been cranked up a few notches while I worked on my keepy-ups (current personal best: 4). And then DOCTOR WHO! THE REAL THING!


Part Three of The Caves Of Androzani, and the best cliffhanger EVER as the Doctor plummets towards the surface of the titular planet at the controls of a crippled, crash-bound spaceship. I only discovered very recently that Davison actually begins to regenerate in this sequence, but staves it off so he can save Peri from certain death. It’s all honestly in there – you see the start of the regeneration sequence begin, with the tunnel of wavy lines, then he shakes his head and makes an effort of will to stop it. I had no idea about this until the DVD came out, but it’s true – have a look if it’s in your collection!

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 74

Wednesday 14th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school we went in for Topic Groups and had to look through some travel brochures. When we came out I did some Topic. We had to copy some maps and climate charts out of the brochures and at 12.00 I had dinner.

In the afternoon, me and Pond’s Eye had to do some Fractions out of a Nuffield book (5). After that I did some more Topic and at 3.15 It was Boy’s Games. It was indoor and we had a tournament. Me, Ozzie and Doug drew one, lost one and lost one.

Came home at 4.00 and me and Doug walked home down the cut with Huggy and Pitfield. at Doug’s house we had some orange then we went to my house and played on the Tarzie. At 5.30 Doug went home and I had tea and after tea I played on the ZX81.

At 7.40 I watched Day of the Triffids and at 8.30 I watched Fresh Fields. 9.00 Watched Minder and went to bed at 10.00.

Pond’s Eye! This was (I think) the lovely Ian MacDonald, who gets immortalised in Chapter Three of ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’ when a friendly debate about whether the Daleks appeared in Blake’s 7 escalates out of control and ends in wanton Ski Yoghurt spillage in the school dining hall.


I have no idea why he was called Pond’s Eye, and it’s a nickname that I’d completely forgotten about until I read today’s 1984 Diary entry. Here he is in our 1983 Christmas Play dressed as… actually, what IS he dressed as?

(Sorry Ian… I couldn’t resist! A great look at our sensational red and black school hall curtains there, as well…)

The ‘Nuffield book (5)’, meanwhile, was kind of advanced maths for grown-up swots.  Doug had been working on the Nuffield books for a while, as he was really good with numbers, and Ian was really brainy as well, so no surprise there either. As for me, I still have to count on my fingers to work out what day of the month it is, so heaven alone knows why I was put to work on advanced fractions at such a tender age.


Perhaps it was to prepare for Boys Games, where it looks as though mine, Doug and Ozzie’s crack footballing trio shipped enough goals to make my Casio pocket calculator actually blow a sprocket. I think this might even have been the day when Mr Hirst blew his normally perfect sang-froid, and laughed us off the pitch as he leaned nonchalently on Mrs Mulhearn’s piano top.

On dark, lonely nights, I can still sometimes hear the unmistakeble squeak of trainers (or ‘pumps’ as our teachers called them, to much hilarity. ‘Has anyone seen Christopher Herbert’s pumps?’ ‘No, but we can smell them from halfway across the playground’) on the school hall floor.


I presume everyone wore these black canvas-with-elasticated-uppers design classics?

I loved our school hall floor, it was shinier than most of the mirrors in the Boy’s Bogs, and was buffed up specially by the cleaners using those amazing spinny-roundy-brushy buffing machines. It was made of marble-patterned tiles coated in coloured sticky tape to make the boundaries of at least three different indoor football/netball/gymnastics arenas. There was a loose bit of yellow tape near the door that I used to pick at relentelessly while singing ‘Water Of Life’ in assembly.

Then there were the delights of the ‘apparatus’, the tangled nest of wooden bars, shiny poles and ropes with chocolate-brown plastic bits at the end. Most of the time, this strange construction nestled unseen, flat against the walls of the school halls. But when Mr Hirst pulled it out (stop giggling at the back there), it was a joy to behold – and, at least once a year, Christopher Herbert would need to be treated for concussion (ie have his eyes examined with a Pifco torch and told to ‘sit down for five minutes) after falling from the highest bar…


Sadly I’m struggling to find a picture of any appropriate ‘apparatus’ but I have found one of the foamy blue mats that Mr Hirst would slide underneath it to attempt to prevent Christopher Herbert from causing any futher damage (to the floor rather than his head)

Anyway, our Boys Games nemesis team contained both the strapping Paul ‘Huggy’ Huggins and nippy goal machine Mark ‘Pitty’ Pitfield, so it was nice that we shook hands afterwards and walked home ‘down the cut’. Which was an ironic turn of phrase, as the bloody thing was steeper than the North Face of the Eiger.

And – hey – here it is! Another 1984 Diary travel film. Chew on this, Michael Palin…  

Good to see a mention for Fresh Fields, as well. A nicely traditional sitcom starring sarcastic redhead (and we all know one of them) Julia McKenzie and former Prisoner No 2 Anton Rogers as a middle-aged couple seeking new challenges. It was all a bit Terry and June, but good fun nevertheless. This was the second ever episode, so here… have this on me…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 73

Tuesday 13th March 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. The I wrote my story and at 9.30 I went for the bus. First at school I went in for assembly then when we came out I had to do a language sheet. At 12.00 I had dinner and it was an indoor playtime so me and Doug did some maths.

In the afternoon I finished my maths and painted the background on my Dogorilla picture. At 3.15 I came home and at 3.25 I came down to Doug’s. First we smashed up ROB-E for the loudspeaker and after that we had some orange and a pikelet. Then we went out again and sawed up some wood for the shelf on the den.

After banging it on I came home and played on the ZX81 and then I had tea. Then I wrote my story and at 6.40 I watched Tuckers Luck (New Series). At 7.40 I watched a question of sport, then I wrote some of my story and at 9.45 I went to bed.

PS Forgot that at 4.40 me and Doug watched Charlie Brown.

Oh, the intrigue! Why was I not required at school on this day until… what, 10am? Presumably there must have been some sort of early morning training session for our teachers, during which they were taught new and exciting ways to smoke Rothmans King Size out of the staff room window and write pithy, sarcastic comments in red biro.


Whatever they learnt, it must have been effective – an indoor playtime, and Doug and I did MATHS?!?!?!! Clearly the school must have run out of shiny greaseproof paper for us to mash up and push down the toilet bowls. Oh, we knew how to live.  

(By the way, I’m assuming everyone had tracing paper-esque toilet roll at school, and not just us cheapskates? I’m not entirely sure who thought it was a good idea to make toilet paper shiny and slippery rather than absorbant, but they must certainly have had sturdier buttocks than anybody at my school…)  

I love the two strange sides of my personality displayed in this entry. Firstly, I was SO obsessive compulsive that, having finished writing up my day’s activity, I simply HAD to add the postscript that we’d watched Charlie Brown inbetween pikelets (and let’s not open that particular can of confectionary again) and ‘banging it on’ in Doug’s garage.

And yet we were ‘living in the now’ enough to smash up ROB-E, the robot that had taken us months to build, without even a flicker of sentimentality.

I don’t think it even crossed our minds that we might like to keep ROB-E. He was an old project, we needed the wood and other parts, so he went. I’m not exactly sure what the loudspeaker was for, but it’s possible we were intending to rig up a state-of-the-art stereo system so we could play Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Break Machine in our den.

I’ve been racking my brains for the last few days to remember any details about the ‘story’ that I seem to have been spending half my waking hours working on. And I think I’ve got it! After having read The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen, The Moon Of Gomrath AND Elidor over the last few weeks, I’m pretty sure I’d started work on my own Alan Garner-esque saga of elves, dwarves and other assorted nasties let loose in the English countryside.


I did this a lot – aping my favourite writers – and there was no subtlety about it whatsoever. I was convinced that this stuff was ‘going to get published, mam’ despite the fact that my characters had the same names as Alan Garner’s, the plot was virtually indentical (just jumbled around a bit), and all of my books (or, to be more accurate, all of my half-finished Chapter Ones) had titles like ‘The Bridestone of Gomsingamen’ and ‘The Weird Moon of Bringrath’.

Of course, when you’re planning a fantasy novel, the most important thing to get out of the way first is… the map. Yep, the detailed map of woodland, hills, swamps, crumbling houses and ancient stone circles together with feathery arrows pointing at trees with captions like ‘Here be buried Othar Windleskin, the Dwarf Lorde’. And that’s undoubtedly what I did in this case, scrawled – like the rest of my opus – on a A4 pad of WH Smiths lined paper, and looking a bit like this…


Anyway (hem hem) an apology… I did say a few weeks ago that we were now into Series 2 of Tucker’s Luck, however the giveaway ‘(New Series)’ here suggests that I’d actually been watching a re-run of Series 1, which is a good enough excuse for watching this…

….Series 2 starts here, and features sterling work from current Moses Jones star Adam Kotz as Chris ‘Creamy’ Eames. He became my TV hero for the duration of the series,  so if anyone knows him then send him over to say hello! 

Good to see that British TV staple ‘A Question Of Sport’ making an overdue appearance as well, with David Coleman hosting and the classic captain’s line-up of Emlyn Hughes and Bill Beaumont still firmly in place. I think the early-to-mid 1980s were probably the show’s peak, and it was a splendid riot of Pringle sweaters, Farah slacks and attempts to identify Kenny Sansom with a yellow helmet pulled over his eyes, driving a Fire Engine to the strains of Disco Inferno. I think even the moustaches were pastel-shaded in 1984…


Oh yeah, just a quick PS – I’ve redone the ‘back to school’ video on yesterday’s entry, and it seems to work for me now – give it a try!