Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 107

Monday 16th April 1984

Woke up at 9.50 and got up at 11.00. Went outside and cleaned up the chrome on the bike, and at about 12.00 I had dinner. Then I started to type a ghost story and at 1.30 Ozzie came and first at his house we typed in an animation program on the spectrum. This little chap walked across the screen.

Then we played Jetpac and Ozzie got to the 8th level. I didn’t get past the first. When we got sick of that we played Computer cricket. I had a team of Doctor Who people and I won.

When I went home I had tea, then I went for a ride on the estate. When I came back I hosed the Strika down, and at 8.00 I watched the Kit Curran radio show. At 9.30 I went in the bath then I went to bed.

At last! A sleep-in! ‘Got up at 11.00’… aaaah, I’m proud of you, 11-year-old self. No doubt my Mum will have said a sarcastic ‘good evening’ as I slouched downstairs, and asked if I wanted my supper in the front room or on a tray to take back to bed with me. 

Good to see I didn’t waste any time though, and after (guffaw) washing my Chopper the previous night, I now (chortle) decided to give it a good rub down. That bloody bike had about 600 spokes on each wheel, and it was an absolute bugger to get them all (and the chrome rim) nice and sparkly. But I remember dragging the Chopper out into the garden and laying it on its side in the sunshine, going hammer and tongs with something called Duraglit.


This was the Fischer family’s staple cure for any unbuffed chrome, a fluffy wodge of guff permanently stored in the cupboard under the kitchen sink, together with a) a tub of Swarfega b) a bottle of Methylated Spirits that my Dad would pretend to drink at Christmas, and c) about 33.7% of Yarm’s spider population. Duraglit was like candy floss laced with WD40, and if I caught a whiff of the stuff today I’m sure I’d be instantly transported back to an afternoon filled with Pebble Mill At One and repeats of Mr Benn.

The ‘ghost story’ I started to type was, of course, the semi-autobiographical account of my various terrifying supernatural experiences over the years (none). I wrote it standing up at the vintage green Hermes typewriter permanently perched on an old sewing machine table in our dining room, and it definitely started with my school friend Andrew ‘Stan’ Henry being menaced by a paranormal presence in his dormitory at Carlton Camp.


After mine and Doug’s bizarre experience with a fluctuation in the space-time continuum the previous afternoon, I absolutely saw this project as my duty to the world, a conviction that lasted almost a full hour until Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald arrived at 1.30pm. I don’t think I so much as looked at my world-shattering ghost story after this.

So… another afternoon spent in the delightful village of Maltby, hijacking Ozzie’s Sharp MZ80K and Spectrum computers. I can just about remember the ‘little chap’ that Ozzie animated, and also my utterly hapless attempts to play Jetpac – a game I now have for my PC’s Spectrum emulator, and I’m STILL absolutely rubbish at it.


Good to see my Doctor Who cricket team doing me proud, though! I think victory was clinched by a sterling opening stand between Turlough and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, and a devastating bowling performance from Davros (not bad for a registered disabled wheelchair user with with one arm, no eyes and an insatiable desire to wipe out every other lifeform in the universe. Including, clearly, Ozzie’s hapless England milksops Graham Dilley and David Gower).

And then, not content with having (titter) my Chopper clean and ready for action, I decided to dig out my ageing Raleigh Strika as well! This had been gathering dust, spiders and ill-feeling (from my Dad) at the back of the garage for years now, but I was clearly in the mood to become a two-bike show-off, so spent another hour in the garden firing freezing cold water over it, myself and (no doubt) Poggy Doggy.

And, amazingly, I even bothered having a bath afterwards! Usually in 1984 a quick drenching with the garden hose would be enough male grooming to last me at least a fortnight. I must have had romance on my mind. Possibly Tegan from Doctor Who. More likely Marian Foster from Pebble Mill At One.


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