Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 110

Thursday 19th April 1984

Woke up at 8.15 and watched telly till 9.30, when I got up. Came down and watched telly again, and at 10.00 mam came back from Yarm and I painted the bike again till 12.00 (ish) Then I started to have dinner but in the middle of it Doctor Lawrence came and gave me some stuff for my blister.

When he’d gone I finished my dinner, then had a go on the videopac. When I got sick I painted some more of the bike, and while that dried I played on the tarzie. Then I finished the bike and ran down to Yarm. Got some stickers for the bike and stuck them on when I got home.

Then I had tea and after a go on the videopac I watched Top of the pops. At 7.55 I watched The making of the living planet, and at 9.00 I watched Mike Harding.

Nothing like a couple of hours of TV-AM to start the day! No doubt leering at Anne Diamond and laughing at Mike Morris’ moustache. I’m surprised I managed to tear myself away to crack on with the important business of bike-painting, but it really couldn’t stay that embarrassing light blue colour for any longer…

Dr Lawrence’s home visit is an event that, oddly, I remember really clearly. I was sitting at the dining room table (which was unusual, as our meals were almost always just eaten from our knees in front of the telly) and I was eating beans-on-toast. He was buzzing around Yarm on his ‘visits’ and decided to drop in with some ointment for my rancid, festering foot blister.

No prescription required as I recall, he just dropped by with it! That’s the 1980s NHS for you. I remember him being vaguely amused by my choice of meal, and he smiled gently as he left, saying ‘I’ll let you get back to your beans-on-toast  now’. Just imagine Geoffrey Palmer saying it to Nicholas Lyndhurst in Butterflies, and you’ll get the picture.


Clearly, my injuries didn’t stop me messing around with the tarzie. This thirty-foot rope dangled from an overhanging tree branch in our side garden, and had provided endless hours of entertainment since my Dad threw it up there early in 1981. It had a knot at the bottom the size of a rhino’s head, and – amazingly for someone  who can barely walk down the street without falling over his own ankles – I’d become quite adept at swinging to incredible heights on it.

This often involved the use of a step ladder… I would climb to the highest step with the rope in my hand, then swing twenty feet in the air in the opposite direction before hurtling back and somehow managing to land wonkily back on top of the steps. I’m not exaggerating about the heights, either… in fact, here I am in mid-flight sometime in 1983…


Amazingly, the tarzie was generally an accident-free zone throughout its long life, although Andrew ‘Stan’ Henry did sustain a nasty fat lip when he got in the way of a terrifying Phil ‘Slackie’ Slack kamikaze lunge.

I wish I could remember which stickers I bought for my bike. I’ve tried to make them out on photos, but I just can’t pick out the detail. They look to be things like RAF wings and rally-car style numbers, but I can’t be sure. What I do remember, though, is sticking them on far too hastily, when the paint on my bike was just ‘tacky’ (as my Mum would say). As a result they’d all slid into horrible lop-sided positions when I got the bike from the garage the following morning.

Good to see a bit of vintage ‘Pops’ watching! This edition was presented by Peter Powell and ‘Oooh’ Gary Davies, and – fabulously – I’ve found the playlist for it. Here you go…

• Blancmange – Don’t Tell Me [Performance]
• Bluebells – I’m Falling [Performance]
• Lionel Richie – Hello [Promo Video]
• Nik Kershaw – Dancing Girls [Performance]
• OMD – Locomotion [Performance]
• Queen – I Want To Break Free [Promo Video]
• Special A.K.A. – Free Nelson Mandela [Performance]
• Thompson Twins – You Take Me Up [Promo Video]

Queen’s video for ‘I Want To Break Free’ had already become the stuff of school legend, and was regularly re-enacted in the top playground, our sterling Freddie Mercury impersonations consisting of a finger across the top lip, a camp fist planted on the hip, and -there’s no other way of putting this – a limp-wristed mince. Although, oddly, it was never a topic of conversation that Freddie was actually gay… we just thought he was ‘funny’ in a genuine, ha-ha, British sitcom fashion. So much so that Doug, Ozzie and I briefly considered reforming our band Titchie Ritchie and the Weirdos to a pay a Barron Knights-style homage to Freddie and the boys… sadly our plan to dress as park-keepers and perform ‘I Want To Rake Leaves’ in front of school assembly came to naught.

(NB I still find it impossible to watch this video without speculating what a cracking arse Roger Taylor has. I know, and I’m sorry)

Oddly, I do remember Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank treating us to a splendid school table rant around this time about how ‘all of the Top 40 is about sex at the moment’. Including, presumably, ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ and the music of Torvill and Dean. Those Sex Education Films we’d been promised really couldn’t come soon enough… for him AND for me, by the sound of it…


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