Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 114

Monday 23rd April 1984


Woke up at 9.30 and got up at 10.30. Then I played Terrahawks and got my higest score of 725. When I got sick I went outside and played on the Tarzie, then I built a new ramp for the bike. Then I had dinner, and after dinner I played Terrahawks on the videopac again and got a score of 883.

After a game with mam on Air Sea war I went ouside again and took some photographs of the bike, Poggy Doggy, and Mog. For the rest of the afternoon I generally mucked about in the garden, then I had tea and then I played on the videopac.

Was going to watch Jaws but dad turned it over. At 9.00 I watched Dave Allen and at 9.50 I went to bed.

It’s good to have ambitions in life, isn’t it? Some people wake up in the morning wanting to negotiate the Horn of Africa, others find their challenges in advancing the boundaries of human knowledge. I was determined to beat my ‘higest’ score on Terrahawks for the Philips Videopac G7000.


Yes, it’s a computer console. In the unlikely event that any young peole are reading this, imagine a Playstation 3 but the size (and weight) of  breezeblock, with eight colours and characters made out of question marks. I loved it, though. Terrahawks was a Space Invaders style thing that looked like this…


Sadly, I can’t find any clips of the game in action, but rest assured it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the scenes on the front of the cartridge. I need to dig it out from the loft sometime and see how quickly I can beat my score of 883 as a 36-year-old. If I play my cards right, there’s a two-part UK Living documentary in this.

Thankfully I managed some fresh air as well, or as close as it was possible to get in 1984. We took a grand total of three photographs on this lovely, sunny afternoon, of which this was the first…


Yep, the aforementioned Mog! He was actually called Sooty (after my teeny tiny obsession with Matthew Corbett’s mute yellow Ursine wizard) and we got him as a tiny bundle of fluff from the Cat Concern charity in 1978. He’d been a mewling kitten, abused by his previous owners… I remember, as a six-year-old, cradling him in my arms in the front seat of the car as we took him home for the first time, and noticing that his whiskers had been singed with a naked flame. That still makes me angry. He couldn’t stop looking at the moon through the car window, and I wonder now if it was the first time he’d ever seen it.

Thankfully Sooty matured into a cheeky, typically self-centred cat who lived a cracking life around our rambling garden, and we had him for thirteen years. I was 18 when he died in the summer of 1991, and it was months before I stopped waiting for his circling paws to wake me up in the mornings.

He’s pictured here with Snowy, my rabbit, clearly attempting to bag himself a pound of bunny flesh. I put a lot of thought into my pets names, didn’t I? It’s only amazing that Poggy Doggy wasn’t called Muddy or Hairy or Houndy or something. I’d only had Snowy for a year or so by this point, but had already amassed an impressive collection of feeding-time scars on both index fingers.

Note also our impressive array of garden furniture! The thing on the left hand side of the picture looks like a discarded piece of kitchen lino, and well… who needs expensive decking when you’ve got an empty fabric conditioner cardboard box?  


And here (fnar fnar fnar) is my Chopper, resplendent in the afternoon sunshine! With a nifty new paint job, and the chrome nicely buffed with Duraglist, apart from the coiled spring under the very back of the seat which I could never get free of rust for some reason. I loved that bike. Can you buy Choppers for adults these days? I’ll proudly ride one around Yarm if you can.

And yes, that’s Poggy Doggy, looking suitably proud. I wish I could bring him back, just for a couple of minutes, to have one last big squeeze of that soppy hairy frame. Lots of dogs back away when you try to hug them, but he never did, the big galoot. Awwww.


And now… a bona fide action shot of my ‘new ramp for the bike’! Made from two old planks from the back of the garage, and a pile of bricks from the side of the coal bunker. If the devil’s in the detail, then his Satanic Majesty has excelled himself with the quality of the sunlight in this picture. I love the orangy glow on the garden fence on the right hand side, which just makes me think of endless early evenings in the Springtimes of that garden.

However, for all this misty-eyed nostalgia, I think there’s also a healthy dose of bravado-strewn bullshit going on in this diary entry. There is NO WAY on God’s Great Earth that I ‘was going to watch Jaws’. I’d attempted to watch Jaws precisely once in my life, on its debut TV screening in the Autumn of 1981, and I’d never been so shaken by anything in my life. The scene where Ben Gardner’s ravaged head goes ‘gloop’ and pops up from beneath the chewed remnants of his fishing boat gave me screaming nightmares for weeks.

Dave Allen, though! Fantastic. A masterclass in TV observational comedy, and – again – proof that I was getting a bit older and taking my first steps, with my parents blessing, into watching adult TV. It felt deliriously and excitingly grown-up stepping into this world, and the material still holds up perfectly. This, I think, is a clip from that very show…

I appreciate this makes me some kind of unclean social pariah these days, but I’m a non-smoker who misses the excitingly decadent days when smoking was allowed pretty much anywhere. Certainly in 1984 everyone on buses (including, brilliantly, the uniformly bequiffed drivers, who all looked like members of The Jordanaires) smoked relentlessly, and I distinctly remember watching Return Of The Jedi at Stockton’s Odeon cinema through a haze of billowing clouds that wouldn’t have looked amiss rolling in from Scapa Flow.

For years, I thought that the Empire’s defence of Endor was actually defeated by heavy fog.

1 Comment»

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I don’t recall you mentioning your Cat before which surprises me as Cats are obviously way better than Dogs ;p

Imagine if it had been the cat in the pic with your bike (oooh the inuendo!!!)

I’m a non smoker and I hate smoke, so glad of the ban. Not for moralistic reasons, but it used to really make my throat sore after being in a pub or something. I’d never go to the cinema if people were allowed to smoke.

And Dave Allen-I miss him!

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