Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 93

Monday 2nd April 1984

When we got up we went outside, then it was breakfast. Then we had inspection, and after that it was assembly. Then we went out and got our backpacks and packed lunches. Then the mini bus came and we went to the bottom of Clay bank.

We climbed up and walked to the Wainstones. There we had our packed lunches and also had a climb around on the rocks and caves. Then we set off again and had a water fight round a pond. Some **** pushed me in and I got soaked!

When we got back I washed my clothes and cleaned my boots, then we had a shower. After that we had tea, and after that it was the disco, but me and Sug fiddled Pontoon in the den. Then we had supper, then we went to bed.

That, of course, is my ‘official’ diary entry, but my rougher, cheekier ‘Carlton Diary’ says…   

Monday 2nd April 1984

After getting some scraggy worn out rucksacks we were driven to Clay Bank in a clapped out cobwebbed old van. We walked up Hasty bank but rather unhastily, and then when we got to the top we dragged ourselves up the Wainstones and shoved our grub in our gobs.


Then we had a muck around in the rocks, and had to climb up this rock. Of course that wally Herbert had to climb to the top and go further didn’t he? Well I’m a Wally too so I did it as well. On the way back we came to a pond and yanked our plaggy bags out of our backpacks, and after filling them with stagnant water, yogged them at each other.


Some evil twisted **** pushed me in and I got soaked. Wait till I get my hands on that little ****!

When we got back I poured all the water out of my boots, then put my cloths through a mangled mangle. Then, after tea we went through an entertainment programme outside when Philip Slack went off the see-saw, flew through the air, got nine sixes off the judges and split his chin open.


He was rushed off for major surgery but arrived back in time for the disco on the night. We (Me, Slackie and Sug) played Pontoon with Timothy Scott and stuffed our sleeves with Aces and kings. Scottie didn’t know what to do!

OK, ‘the bottom of Clay Bank’ was just a lay-by on the road to Helmsley, a couple of miles south of the village of Great Broughton. It’s about ten minutes drive from Carlton, and we were indeed taken there in little groups by a series of ‘clapped-out old vans’. It felt like a great adventure, and I remember Doug and I being juggled around in the back as I pontificated about what the future held.

‘You know what,’ I pondered. ‘I reckon when we get home, me Mam might have bought me a ZX Spectrum. Just for being dead good and going away for a week like this…’

Would the prophecy be fulfilled? Stay tuned…

From the resting place of the ‘clapped-out old van’, Clay Bank climbs away to the left, and the stone path that ascends the slightly steeper Hasty Bank is on the right. Guess which one we had to tramp up?

Yep… and, for the sake of historical accuracy, I did it again this week…

(NB Some sensational sheep action on this!)

It’s actually a fabulous walk, with some incredible views and some amazing sheer drops down craggy, vertical rock faces within feet of the path. And the Wainstones are a famous local landmark – a sprawling, jagged outcrop of boulders, crags and caves sitting incongruously on the top of open moorland. 2nd April 1984 was the first time I’d ever been there, and I was taken aback by the scale of the place. I hope it comes over on this…

(By the way, if anyone is struggling to get these films to work, they’re all at www.youtube.com/wifflelevertofull)

I’d been utterly terrified of heights a little earlier in my childhood, and a bit of this came back during our walk, but we were – as I point out in the film above – undoubtedly allowed to scramble around the place as we pleased. I tried to find the rock face that the vile Herbert and I both clambered up 25 years ago, but honestly – it could have been any of them.

I remember it well, though… in my mind’s eye it was a twenty foot drop, but it reality… well, probably less than half that. Or, more realistically, a quarter of it.

The Wainstones themselves are actually riddled with graffiti. Which naturally, being a reactionary old buffer, I disapprove of… however, I did try to find some that dated from 1984. The closest I got was this:

So hello to Keith and Kem, who visited the Wainstones on the 17th September 1983. Which was a Saturday, so at least they were doing something healthy with their weekends.


We must have walked a hell of a long way that day. I know the location of the ‘pond’ that I was (ahem) pushed into, and it’s a good five miles over open moorland from where the ‘clapped-out van’ dropped us.

25 years on, I think can offer up a confession. NOBODY pushed me into that pond. I fell into it entirely unaided, because I am, was, and probably always will be, a clumsy get. But I lied about it in my diary to disguise the fact that I’m unable to walk around the edges of a stagnant pool without slipping over and falling into the bloody thing up to my neck. Oh, the shame.

And it STANK. As I went in, the fifty grotty kids in orange cagouls (and Mr Hirst and Mrs Keasey) exploded into laughter, and the hilarity didn’t die down for… ooh, about another fortnight. I remember dragging myself back onto dry land, at which point Mr Hirst made me lie on my back and stick my legs in the air.

The result? Several pints of filthy black water cascading out of my boots, down my legs and all over my midriff.

Did I dare go back and re-enact this idiocy last week? Well, Gazzie Jones and I found the location, so you’ll have to watch the film to discover (as David Coleman used to say) ‘What… Happened… Next…’

Despite the lower water level, I stank just as much last week as I had 25 years earlier, although at least in my current home I didn’t have to resort to a mangle and a hosepipe to get the caked layers of stagnant gunk out of my clothes, hair and boots.

I had about a mile to walk back to Carlton Camp in my foul, soaking state, and to attempt to deflect attention from myself (there’s a first time for everything) I took the below pictures on the way…


The top photo shows anarchic comedy genius Philip ‘Slackie’ Slack, unaware that he’s hours away from an horrific see-saw tragedy (which, although I make out in my diary that I saw it first hand, I definitely didn’t), and (on the right) Jo Spayne, a good friend and a brilliant guitarist who I had a nice little songwriting partnership with a few years ago. I haven’t seen him for ages, but I must drop him a line sometime.

I’m afraid I can’t name the girls in the second picture at all, but the lad on the left is Timothy Scott (who I think I do a disservice in this diary as he was perfectly nice and funny and far too sharp to ever be fooled by some shambling cheats at the Pontoon table) and on the right is Ian ‘Pond’s Eye’ MacDonald, revelling in the fact that his nickname was even more inappropriate than usual on this particular afternoon.


And then a lovely snapshop of a stolen moment in time, exactly 25 years ago today… a split-second of random history frozen forever on my Gran’s creaky camera. Those clouds will probably never make those precise patterns ever again before the world is enveloped by the sun and all human endeavour is rendered ultimately pointless. But we’ve got them, right there, to look at, and let’s take a poignant second to think wistfully about Monday 2nd April 1984. Aaaah. Isn’t life lovely sometimes?

And the disco. Aaaah yes, time to dig out the black shirt, white tie and denim jacket, and groove in Carlton Camp’s hall to ‘Rick’s Mobile Disco’, cranking out the hits of the day to fifty eleven-year-olds leaping around like lunatics and yogging plastic cups across the dancefloor.

No doubt including this, at No 5 in the charts on this very day…

(Oddly, watching this now has just reminded me that Doug, in his bedroom at home, had a Thompson Twins poster on his wall. It was the outline of Alannah Currie’s hair that brought that strange little snippet rushing back to me. What a delightfully odd and unpredictable thing the human mind can be…)



  Fiona Tims wrote @

I had a good old chuckle at the pond re-enactment. For some reason, I was expecting you to do a ‘Dawn French Dibley Special’ ;p

  bobfischer wrote @

I did consider a full belly-flop into the swamp, but bottled out at the last second.

However… *exclusive news* I’ve just spoken to my old teacher Mr Hirst for the first time in 25 years, and he’s agreed to do an on-camera interview for the blog tomorrow!


  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

This is very good news about Mr Hirst!

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