Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 109

Wednesday 18th April 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and got up at 9.30. Got the 10.00 bus to Stockton and first I went into Halfords to look at the paint for my bike. After that I went into Smiths and had a look at the books, then I went back to Halfords and got some blue and silver paint.

When I got back I had dinner, and at 1.00 I went to Doug’s and we mucked about on Teletext. Came home at 2.00 and me and mam rode down to the doctors about my foot. Got a bandage on it and when I came back at 3.10 I started to paint my bike.

When I got sick I came in and watched some cartoons on telly till I had tea. After tea I did my bike again, then I came in and watched Coronation street. While this is your life was on me and dad played Chess, then Mam spent 10 minutes on the phone talking to a wrong number!

Yep, I’d finally decided that the pale blue livery on my second-hand Raleigh Chopper was SOOOOO 1979, and the only way to drag it kicking and screaming into the 1980s was to… erm, paint it dark blue. Still, at least it gave me an excuse to go window-shopping and ‘look at the books’ in Smiths, no doubt with an eye towards purchasing the next Doctor Who Target Paperback. I’d shamelessly blammed all of my money on paint though, so I had to get my reading fix from…


TELETEXT! Fantastic. Apart from a brief flirtation with the TV listings at Paul Clarke’s ninth birthday party, this was the first time I’d ever used Teletext. All of the TVs in our house dated from the pre-Cambrian period, but Doug’s was relatively new and as such was fitted with this revolutionary means of, erm, reading about holiday prices and seeing blocky pictures of Mike Yarwood. 

Paul Clarke’s ninth birthday party notwithstanding, I knew what Teletext looked like because – bizarrely – of Three Of A Kind. Yep, THE sketch show of the early 1980s, with Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman and David Copperfield doing gags about space invaders and nuclear war between music videos from Toni Basil and Amii Stewart. Alongside the sketches, it featured spoof Teletext pages called ‘GAGFAX’, hammering out jokes even older than our non-Teletext front room TVs. Truly, THIS was the internet before the internet was invented.

Anyway, we had a rummage through BBC1’s CEEFAX (Page 888 for subtitles) and ITV’s uncapitalised Oracle before getting bored and listening to Doug’s sister Jenny’s 12″ single of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ but playing it at the wrong speed to make Holly Johnson sound like Jimmy Somerville.

And yay! I had a poorly foot. So what did my mother do? MAKE ME CYCLE TO THE DOCTORS TO HAVE IT EXAMINED!!! Fantastic. Next week, Bob Fischer walks the ten miles to North Tees General Hospital on his hands to have his fractured wrists X-rayed. To be fair, my foot wasn’t in TOO serious a condition… I’d come back from Carlton Camp riddled with foot blisters from wearing Gazzie Jones’ walking boots for a week, and one of them (probably not helped by the stagnant pond I fell into) had turned sceptic.

There was a lot of blood, gunk and ill-feeling spilling out of it, none of which made much of an impression on Dr Lawrence (a dead ringer for Geoffrey Palmer in Butterflies) who rolled his eyes, looked at his watch and prescribed ‘a bandage’ until it had healed over. Inspired by the wonders of medical science, I cycled home again. Ayaz, that knacks.


And Coronation Street? Since when did I watch Coronation Street? Since Wednesday 18th April 1984, apparently. I’ve no idea where this little fad came from, but clearly there was enough happening in the lives of Hilda Ogden and Eddie Yeats to keep me entranced for half an hour.

And then another opportunity for my Mum to say ‘Oooh, let’s see whose life it is…’ before switching over again when Eamonn Andrews presented the red book to someone really boring. Charity workers, World War II veterans and writers (unless it was Jilly Cooper or Catherine Cookson) were always given short shrift.


And I’d forgotten all about the wrong number, but it definitely happened! I think I exaggerated a little bit… it was more two minutes than ten, but my Mum undoubtedly answered the phone, chatted idly for a little while about family and friends, then uttered the legend ‘Actually… who is this?’

‘I thought it was your Auntie Flossie,’ she claimed, red-faced, afterwards. ‘And then she started asking how the little lad was, so I told her about your foot’. Glorious stuff. The ‘wrong number’ always brought a little frisson of excitement into the world, but it’s been years since I last had one on the line… I suppose speed-dialling and phones with memories (Phhhhhwat???!) have all but wiped the phenomenon out.

Another bit of randomness taken away from our lives and replaced by the predictable. Bah.


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