Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary…. Volume 104

Friday 13th April 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. Got the bus at 8.30 and first at school we had to tidy our trays, then me and Doug played a variety of games on the Sharp computer that Ozzie had brought. We played Towering Inferno and Halls of Hell, then Frankie and the rest of the school team came and we played World Cup.

Had dinner at 12.00 then when we went back in it was another video, but me and Ozzie didn’t go in and darted between Wuckie’s Spectrum and the Sharp MZ80K. Somewhere in the middle of it we played Crossfire.

Came home at 3.15 and rode through the estate to Dougs. We played in the hut and I came home and had tea at 5.20. Then I went out again and played on the bike. At 7.00 I watched Odd One Out, then Fame, then Time of your life. Went to bed at 9.30.

Last Day Of Term!!!

Do kids still bring in their favourite toys and games on the last day of school term? And did everyone do it, or was it just us? It was always a great fun day anyway, especially as the Eighties progressed and all manner of computer-related goodness started appearing in the cluttered classrooms of Levendale Primary School.

Our genius friend Ozzie, lest we forget, was the proud owner of a ‘proper’ grown-up computer, a Sharp MZX80K that looked like this…

sharpmz80k

Sadly, Google reveals nothing whatsoever about ‘Towering Inferno’ or ‘Halls of Hell’, although I’ve got a feeling that the ‘World Cup’ game was all text-only and tactical, rather than boasting any whizzy graphic representations of Trevor Francis and (brrrrr) Peter Beardsley. So you selected your teams (including you and your mates’ names), pressed ‘RETURN’ and got…

Corner for LEVENDALE PRIMARY SCHOOL
FRANKIE takes the corner
OZZIE shoots
Shot is saved
Ball is cleared
TUCKER wins a tackle
TUCKER passes to DOUG
DOUG passes to FISCHER
FISCHER falls over his feet

…and so on and so on, at a snail’s pace, until either a) a goal was scored, or b) we all got bored and wandered off to put ball bearings up Christopher Herbert’s nose.

The Spectrum probably gave us more entertainment, and I’m pretty sure we played a bit of Manic Miner. ‘Wuckie’ was (I think) just a new nickname for Jason ‘Tucker’ Tuck, in an era when a new nickname could be created in morning assembly, all over school by dinnertime, and painfully passe by the time we were at home watching The Young Doctors at 3.30pm.

Crossfire, meanwhile, was brilliant. I think I got this for Christmas in 1981, and it looked like this…

crossfire1

So… the two red guns went at either end of the shiny board, the floating marble went in the middle, and each player loaded their guns with ball bearings (freshly removed from Christopher Herbert’s nostrils) and tried to shoot the marble into the opposite goal. It was utterly fabulous, and the ball bearings shot across the board at a terrifying speed…

…which made it all the more disappointing that, when we (inevitably) removed the guns from the board and tried to shoot them at each other, they just ‘phutted’ out of the end of the gun like a nasty, dribbly fart. Bah!

And then…. wait for it…. YAY!!!! The squeaky squeaker went, and we packed up our stuff and jumped on the school bus for a fortnight’s holiday. The bus home on the last day of term was invariably a manic melting pot of debauchery and high-jinks, and the following song ALWAYS seemed to be sung repeatedly with terrifying intensity and vigour…

We break up,
We break down,
We don’t care if the school falls down,
No more English, no more French,
No more sitting on the old school bench,
If the teacher interferes,
Tie her up and box her ears,
If that does not shut her up,
Dynamite will blow her up! 

Our regular bus driver, a grizzled Scotsman called Gordon, would roll his eyes and turn up Jimmy Young on Radio 2. Our supervisor, a formidable middle-aged lady known only as Mrs Mack, would waggle her finger in warning, but always seemed to have a glint of devilment in her eyes. I’ve tried to remember how she looked, and the only image that keeps popping into my head is this one…

sorry

On the left, before anyone starts. Language, Timothy!

(NB None of us had ever learnt a word of French at school, and we didn’t have an ‘old school bench’, so presumably this was a song that had done the rounds for years…?)

Nice to start the holiday with an evening spent in mine and Doug’s home-made hut, anyway, no doubt guzzling Orange Squash and talking vaguely ill-informed filth. Which seems like as good a way as any to prepare for a night at home watching this…

You want blogs? Well blogs cost. And right here’s where you start paying… in sweat.

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6 Comments»

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I had Crossfire!! (Or to be more precise-my Brothers had Crossfilre). It was indeed, a great game. I’ve a feeling it was one of the ball bearings from this game, that I swallowed.

And yes, we also used to take in games for the last day of term. Those were the days!!!

  bobfischer wrote @

I’m glad it wasn’t just us! Do kids now sit by themselves on the last day of term, playing games on their I-Pods and texting their mates ten feet away in the same room?

My Crossfire is DEFINITELY intact in the loft. I might host a UK tournament sometime, and everyone is invited. 🙂

  Justin wrote @

Yes we used to take in games on the last day (years ago they let us get away with it at work if there wasn’t much on!) and the song is indeed one handed down from generation to generation as I remember singing it too… except our last two lines were “if that does not serve her right, blow her up with dynamiyte!”
Sign me up for the Crossfire championships… I never owned it but a friend did and it was great fun!

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Oooh! Erica Gimpel!
(I was a bit older than you were in 1984…)

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

As a matter of fact I still am.

  bobfischer wrote @

Thanks Justin… great to hear that there were regional variations on the ‘We Break Up’ song! I wonder if an evolved version of it still gets sung by kids today?

And Eric Gimpel played Coco, didn’t she? She was a bit showbizzy for my liking. I was more of a down-to-earth Valerie Landsburg fan.

Although I concede that any definition of ‘down-to-earth’ness is pretty relative considering we’re talking about a famous Performing Arts school here.


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