Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 118

Friday 27th April 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and at 9.30 Doug rang so I got up. At 9.40 Doug came down with some electric stuff and we mucked around with that till 10.50, When we watched Raiders of the lost ark – the making of. When that finished at 11.45 we went outside and played on the tarzie, then we came in and had dinner.

After dinner we went upstairs again and played with a disco light, then we went for a ride around Levendale. We saw Thompson, then we saw Ramsey. After we’d been to the cut, we got 2 lollies from the VG, then followed ‘the burner gang’ with big Whitehead and Austen Lewis.

After a muck on with Stan we came home and at 5.30 Doug went home and I had tea. At 7.00 I watched The pyramid game, then I watched Fame. At 8.20 I watched Time of your life, and at 9.00 I went to bed.

I’m not 100% sure exactly what ‘electric stuff’ Doug brought down to my house on this morning, but given that we were in the midst of our home-made disco project, I’m guessing just a load of wires and batteries and stuff to attempt to rig up the Stringfellows-style lighting rig in my bedroom.

And I imagine Peter Stringfellow was similarly distracted from his nightclub activities when Raiders Of The Lost Ark – The Making Of popped up on ITV.

raiders 

I think the ‘disco light’ was an old red light from the back of Doug’s Chopper (stop giggling, Fischer) that had since fallen into misuse, but that didn’t stop us rigging it up to a giant HP-11 battery from my old train set. Doug, impressively, tested the battery with his tongue first and gave a sage nod to indicate it was still working. The second step was to connect it to a dynamo powered by the insane dance steps of the gorgeous Debbie Jarvis, whirling around my bedroom to the strains of OMD.

Who, come to think of it, always sounded as though they HAD actually strained something…

And then we got bored. And went for a ride. Graeme Ramsey has been mentioned before – a nice, funny lad who’d been a friend of mine since play school days. And ‘Thompson’ was Simon Thompson… two years younger than us, and with a cheeky smile that had quickly earned him the nickname ‘Cabbage Patch Kid’. If you were female, under ten, or incredibly gullible, then these freaky American inventions had been the must-have toy for Christmas 1983.

(Not for me, though… I got the ultra-butch Fighting Fantasy Books, Doctor Who Annual and Philips Videopac G7000. Grrrrrrrowl!)

cabbagepatch

The Burner Gang!!! Fantastic. I now remember this day really well. It was incredibly warm and sunny (hence the lollies, I suppose… mine was probably a tri-coloured ‘FAB’ lolly with hundreds and thousands scattered across the top segment. Doug was more a straight-down-the-line Orange Fruitie man) and an afternoon filled with stuff, nonsense and delirious adventure that seemed to go on forever. 

The Burner Gang were a bunch of younger kids on (wait for it) Raleigh Burner bikes, the slightly unconvincing British attempt to tap into the exploding BMX market…

raleighburner

They were loitering outside the VG Shop as Doug and I came out, and mop-haired rogue Austen Lewis and ‘Big’ Whitehead (so-called because he was the elder brother of our mate Paul Whitehead) were cycling across the street towards us. These two were undoubtedly proper, grown-up ADULTS, as they’d graduated Levendale Primary and moved onto the scary local comprehensive Conyers. As such they were clearly a mere whisker away from having mortgages and families of their own (I think they were probably 13 at the time).

‘Who are you lot?’ asked Doug, of the Burner Gang.

‘We’re the Burner Gang,’ they replied, and sped off. Well, as close as you can get to speeding off on a cheap British BMX replica.

At this, Austen Lewis and Big Whitehead fell about laughing, and joined forces with Doug and I to chase them. I don’t know why, or what we intended to do with them when we caught them, but chasing them seemed entirely appropriate, so that’s what we did. With our Fab Lolly and Orange Fruitie still in our hands, and Big Whitehead barking out instructions in a voice so deep that Jo Spayne’s mam was already taking the precaution of taping up the rattling windows of the VG Shop.

I don’t think the pursuit ever reached any conclusion, to be honest… we probably got distracted by the arrival of Andrew ‘Stan’ Henry and wandered off while Austen Lewis and Big Whitehead went away to grow beards and smoke pipes for the rest of the afternoon.

pyramid-game

And ‘The Pyramid Game!’ Ah, bestill my beating heart. Top 1980s ITV game show, hosted by Steve Jones (sadly, the zany Radio 1 man rather than the grumpy Sex Pistols guitarist. He had red-framed specs, as I recall). Two punters, two celebrities (of the Lorraine Chase/Willie Rushton variety) and six portable TVs stacked up in a pyramid shape. That’s pretty much all I can remember, which is probably for the best. 

NB Was there ever a 1960s car called an Austen Lewis? If there wasn’t, there should have been.

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1 Comment»

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I have no recollection of the Pyramid Game.

I still have my Cabbage Patch Doll :o) He had no hair, so I decided to change his name to ‘Bertie Baldwin’ (I was 10!) rather than the name he came with (which I can’t remember). I was always really miffed though because you were supposed to receive bday and xmas cards for your CPD and I never did 😦

I’m still upset about it ;p


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