Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 96

Thursday 5th April 1984

After inspection and breakfast we had a muck around in the playground, then went into the dining room and did yesterday’s diary. Then after getting all our walking stuff on we got the landrover to the bottom of a big hill and climbed up it.

After our packed lunch and a race between Gazzie and Huggy to see who could get the most oranges we went down the other side and came to another hill that we were all allowed to roll down. When we arrived back at the centre we cleaned our boots and had a shower, then gave back our rucksacks and cagouls.

After a game of Table tennis we had supper, then had a sing song round a paper camp fire in the barn. What a rip off!

And the alternate version…

Thursday 5th April 1984

After a pukey breakfast and inspection, we had to go in the dining hall and do our diarys. I mean that’s not bad but why so early in the morning? Most of us hadn’t even opened our eyes yet! When the torture had finished we grabbed our packies and got the landrover to the bottom of Carlton Bank.


After climbing up it (So much for Mrs Keasey’s description – she said it was all downhill) we had our packies at the top. Gazzie and Huggy then had a contest to see who could nab the most oranges, but were interrupted when we set off again, and came to a hill coated in heather.


After a few goes rolling down that and splattering people if they got in the way, we got back to the centre and cleaned all the Turd and gunk (another word for Turd) off our boots. Then we had a shower. Finally on the night we had some songs, some absolutely **** jokes and a lolly round a paper camp fire. WHAT A RIP OFF!

Our last full day at Carlton Camp, and I guess it’s fair to say things were winding down a little bit. No ghost stories, no Beating Black Hearts, and just a short retread of the previous day’s walk. And not even the whole walk – just the knackering uphill bit. As we crawled vertically up the North Face of Carlton Bank (passing several parties of exhausted Sherpas on the way) Mrs Keasey did indeed constantly reassure us that ‘it’s all downhill from here’.

I suppose it’s possible she was talking about our school careers rather than the landscape. Here’s a celebratory picture from the summit, though…


An obligatory 1984 ‘Peace’ sign, which we’d stolen from Neil of The Young Ones, being modelled by Sug, genius inventor of the Loonymen. You’ll also notice Slackie (still with a post see-saw accident plaster on his chin) about to deliver a devastating karate chop to the arse regions. It was an essential part of the Eighties kid’s armoury to convince your friends (and enemies) that you had mystical, Oriental martial arts powers, delivering all manner of flailing, open handed chops accompanied by ‘Yah! Chah! Aieeeeeee!’ noises.

In truth, the only Oriental martial art anyone really knew about was the Chinese burn. Although Stephen Mason could deliver a sensational variant on this called ‘Heavy Traffic’, in which he’d act out the passing of various vehicles on your exposed wrist, to great agony. ‘And here come the juggernauts… GNHGNHGNGNHGNH!!!!!’

I remember the Gazzie/Huggy orange race as well. Being a) healthy and b) natural, the oranges were the one part of our packed lunches that we weren’t really interested in, so there were usually plenty going spare after a mid-moorland food stop. Heaven only knows why, but Messrs Jones and Huggins took it upon themselves to mop up the surplus and go around nicely asking the rest of us (‘Gizzit’) to willingly surrender the only source of Vitamin C in a ten mile radius.

I suspect they all ended up being thrown from the top of Carlton Bank into the gaping wounds of the old slate mines, and are probably still down there, growing and mutating into their own evil orange community. 

I seem to remember it had been raining overnight, so there was a bit more mud around than there’d been for a few days, which might explain this picture…


I think that’s Tucker up to his eyes in clart in the centre, and Mr Hirst’s sensational quiff (clearly inspired by Let’s Dance-era Bowie) is visible on the left. I love the below picture as well, with a post-clart Tucker and Huggy ‘sharing a joke’ (as they always seemed to say in the captions  in ‘Shoot!’) with a bent iron bar discovered at the side of the track…


What I don’t mention in this entry, oddly, is that I think we spent the afternoon playing cricket on the little expanse of greenery outside the front of Carlton Camp. Beacuse having finally got shot of the hated cagouls and boots, I changed back into the last set of clean clothes I owned and promptly dived full length into the muddy quagmire in a vain attempt to catch a thunderous Gazzie Jones haymaker.

The ‘camp fire’ was a sensation. We’d been promised all week that our final night would see us building and lighting a genuine outdoor fire in the camp grounds, around which we would sing songs, roast Newbould’s sausages and tell horrible stories of the Ghostly Grey Lady of Carlton Camp (and more of her later…)

However, on the night itself, because it was ‘wet’ (what hardy, outdoor types we were), it was decided we’d be better served by an indoor lamp coated in red and orange tissue paper and stuck in the middle of the hall. We sucked on purple lollies and sang ‘Gin Gan Goolie’, despite Gazzie’s repeated attempts to get a chorus of ‘The Hair On Her Dickie Di Do’ up and running.

And then…



The Ghost of the Grey Lady was, we all knew, nothing if not punctual. She would come to steal our mortal souls as soon as our dormitory lights were extinguished on our final night at Carlton Camp. We’d been told this by the kids in the year above, who – it never struck me – seemed surprisingly unscathed considering they’d presumably been through all this themselves and had their own mortal souls stolen.

So I lay in bed in the darkness, in the tiny, terrifying hours of the night-time (11pm) and waited. And waited. And waited. And… 

There She Was.

In the still, black silence of the dormitory, the Ghost Of The Grey Lady was standing in the open doorway. She’d floated past Mr Hirst’s room without a sound, and now only the relentless scratching of the trees on the window panes saluted her presence.

I was frozen to the bed. ‘Gazzie….’ I whispered, as the Grey Lady surveyed the room, settling on a soul to steal first.

No response.


No response.

Oh protect me heavenly father, she’s taken Gazzie first. My friend has gone, his soul stolen by the dastardly agents of the netherworld.

I watched in petrified awe as the Grey Lady entered the centre of the room, and I caught a glimpse of her face in the twilight. She was, indeed, grey all over – featureless and formless, a floating mass of indistinct darkness. And then I heard, from Green dormitory, a bloodcurdling cry…


And Sug and Mason and Tucker and Slackie raced through the door and piled relentlessly on top of the Grey Lady, pulling the grey blanket from her face and revealing a giggling Gazzie Jones, lost beneath a flailing mound of arms, legs, slippers and karate chops.

Oddly enough, our mortal souls remained untroubled for the rest of the night.



  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

How chilling! My heartbeat actually became suspended during the evocative account of the Grey Lady’s approach. Even though I know that ghosts do not exist of course, you managed to make me forget the fact for a moment.

  Gaz Jones wrote @

On top of spagetti, all covered in cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed…… etc, etc

  bobfischer wrote @

…it rolled in in the garden, and under a bush, then my poor meatball, was covered in mush…

Cue sniggering at the back of the group at the mention of ‘under a bush’.

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