Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 116

Wednesday 25th April 1984

Woke up at 8.20 and got up at 8.35. We got the 9.05 bus to Yarm for a Mad magazine but the **** people didn’t have one. When we came back I rang Doug but he wasn’t in, so I rode down to Yarm through the estate and saw Doug’s car. When I got back I had dinner, then Doug rang and came down.

We played with the videopac until 2.00, When Ozzie came. After a go on the G7000 we all went for a ride. We went through the estate to Yarm, showed Ozzie Yarm castle, then went up the tree at the cricket club. When we came back we played on the Tarzie, then Ozzie went home and me and Doug organized a disco.

Doug went home while I had tea, then he came back and we played on the ZX81. After a play on Conyers field we watched Benny Hill at 8.30, and at 9.00 Doug went home. Went to bed at 9.30.

Ah, yes… time for the third member of our imaginary hit chart band Titchie Richie and the Weirdos to join Doug and I on our World Tour of Yarm. We should have the T-shirts printed up for the merchandise stall on our side garden… 


2pm Bob’s Front Room
3pm Yarm Castle
4pm The Tree at the Cricket Club


Ozzie (pictured here) lived a few miles away in the pretty village of Maltby, and will have been dropped off at my house by his Dad. I distinctly remember digging my old Raleigh Strika out of the garage so he could accompany Doug and me on our exploratory bike ride, and we wobbled off into the sunshine like some strange, pre-pubescant version of The Three Stooges.

And Yarm Castle! Wow! This incredible monument to man’s ingenuity that really should be better known. And yet there are doubtless thousands of long-term Yarm residents who don’t even know it exists. In which case, let me take you to it now…

I  remember my Dad taking me to see this for the first time sometime in 1981. He marched me right up to the garage wall (bear in mind I was a short-arsed eight-year-old) and wound me up for at least five minutes saying ‘Look at the castle! It’s amazing! What a beautiful piece of architecture…’ while steam flew out of my ears. For the last 28 years, I’ve made a point of putting all new visitors to the Fischer household through the same tawdry routine. 



I’ve also got fond memories, on this balmy night in 1984, of Doug staying quite a lot later than he usually did. 9pm! And yet the nights were getting longer and warmer, and it seemed nice to welcome him as part of the family. We sprawled on the sofa together, drinking ginger pop and laughing at the risky bits in Benny Hill. On IMDB, this episode is described thus…

“Benny begins the program by leading the ‘League of Helping Hands’ into song; a look into the life of a vagabond; Hill’s Angels do a choreographed aerobics exercise at a gym, and later do battle with street punks; a spoof of The Hot Shoe Show; and for the close, the opening day at St. John Thomas Hospital”

I think St John Thomas Hospital might have gone over our heads at the time, but I’m slightly ashamed to report that it raised a smile from me just now.   

And the disco! Oh yes, ‘me and Doug organized a disco’. We’d concocted this in our new retreat, halfway up the tree at the side of the cricket pitch. We wanted to hold a disco and invite all of our schoolfriends. Now, of course, previous discos that we’d been invited to tended to involve the hiring of both a village hall and a mobile DJ who would bring his own decks, records and lighting system.

Not us. Hell no, we were on a budget. Our disco was to be held in my bedroom, and would consist of…

a) a rogue flashing yellow light that we’d found in the back of my garage. It had clearly been (cough) liberated from a set of roadworks at some point, and had been covered in cobwebs and grime for decades.

b) My portable cassette recorder from Dixon’s lashed up to a pair of old speakers that we’d found on top of the wardrobe in the spare room.

c) A load of TDK D90 tapes of Top of the Pops, recorded by pushing item b) up against the telly speakers, with crackly performances by Nik Kershaw and Hazell Dean interspersed with the jolly burblings of Peter Powell and ‘Oooh’ Gary Davies.

It was ambitious, but we were determined. And bloody stupid. Especially if it meant that the gorgeous Debbie Jarvis would come and dance in my bedroom, but more of her later…

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