Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 120

Sunday 29th April 1984

Woke up at 10.00 and got up at half past. Played with the tape recorder till I got sick, and was just about to go out when Doug came. We did a lot of stuff for the disco (we practised break dancing) till dinner, and after dinner we dug an old yellow light out of the garage , and while Doug fixed that I did a picture for a flashing box.

Then we went on Levendale and told Clarkie about a hedgehog near the road that had just given birth. Then we met Jono on his skateboard and played with him on the green. After a bike race with Griffiths we came back and at 5.30 Doug went home and I had tea.

After that I recorded the Top 20, then I washed my hair and while I had it cut I watched Last of the summer wine. Then I went out and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Break dancing!!!! Ahahahahahahahah!!! Yes, for one morning only, Bob’s bedroom in Yarm was transformed into the South Bronx as Doug and I put the bathroom rug on the floor, cranked up Billy Joel on the Thomson portable cassette recorder and prepared to bust a few shapes. I think we’d been inspired by a report on John Craven’s Newsround about ‘the new dance craze that’s sweeping America’ and decided to give it a go.

I also remember, around this time, the utterly utterly magnificent Derek Griffiths being asked by a caller on Saturday Superstore if he could ‘do body popping’ and bursting into hysterical laughter (I bet he could though, and he’d be bloody brilliant at it). At the same time, there was a troupe of ‘robotic’ dancers appearing on everything from Tomorrow’s World to Les and Dustin’s Laughter Show. I can’t be the only one who remembers these… I’m sure they had white robot heads and tuxedos.

I gave the old robotics a go myself once, in the advert breaks during Minder, and my Dad asked if I was ‘having a bloody fit’.

(NB, I once e-mailed Derek Griffiths’ website politely requesting a radio interview, and was told that ‘Derek would love to do it, but he’s currently in Namibia making a film with Wesley Snipes’. Anyone know what the film was?)

And yes! The ‘old yellow light’ finally emerged from the garage. As I think I’ve mentioned before, this was a creaky, dusty old flashing light clearly liberated from a set of roadworks somewhere, and Doug and I intended it to be the centrepiece for our bedroom disco (groove on, Debbie Jarvis). Nice to see our stereotypical roles – with Doug as the practical manly figure and me as the arty idle twat – being reinforced by the fact that he did the electrics while I DREW A BLOODY PICTURE.


And aaaaaaaaaw, baby hedgehogs! I remember this well. Hedgehogs were always quite an exciting thing for me as a kid, the intrusion of wild and untamed nature into my domestic, mundane little world. We found Mother Hedgehog on the edge of the beck near Crossroads Garage, surrounded by half a dozen tiny pink baby hedgehogs. Paul ‘Clarkie’ Clarke seemed a natural person to tell, as he was Levendale Primary School’s noted animal rights campaigner, a softly-spoken vegetarian who wanted to be a vet. He was (and is) lovely, and here he is in Whitby in 1983…


Jono was Jonathan Copeland, a cheeky dark-haired lad who – along with his skateboard – seemed to be inextricably drawn to ‘the green’… a little patch of grass surrounded by high wooden fencing, with a couple of rusty swings plonked unceremoniously in the middle. And ‘Griffiths’ was Craig Griffiths, another brilliant 11-year-old nutter, who still stops for a cheery chat whenever I pass him around Yarm.

Good to see me amassing more material for our Bedroom Disco by taping the evening’s Top 20. Which was, on this day in 1984 (read this in Simon Bates’ voice for full effect)…

1. DURAN DURAN The Reflex *
2. PHIL COLLINS Against All Odds *
3. QUEEN I Want To Break Free *
5. POINTER SISTERS Automatic *
6. OMD Locomotion *
7. THE FLYING PICKETS When You’re Young And In Love *
8. BLANCMANGE Don’t Tell Me
9. BOB MARLEY One Love
11. THE BLUEBELLS I’m Falling
12. KOOL AND THE GANG When You Say You Love Somebody
14. NIK KERSHAW Dancing Girls *
15. SHAKIN’ STEVENS A Love Worth Waiting For
16. GLAD IT’S ALL OVER Captain Sensible
17. SOS BAND Just Be Good To Me
18. NEW ORDER Thieves Like Us
19. HUMAN LEAGUE The Lebanon
20. DEPECHE MODE People Are People

(I honestly didn’t plan this at all, but that video features the white-faced robotic man that I was waffling about earlier! Yay!!!!)

When I say I ‘recorded the Top 20’ what I actually mean, of course, is that I recorded SOME of the Top 20. Back in 1984, I didn’t have the modern capability of storing squillions of songs on a computer the size of a sticklebrick. I had about six TDK D90s, which weren’t cheap and ‘don’t grow on bloody trees’, so I had to choose my music carefully. I’d sit with my finger poised over the RECORD and PLAY buttons, ready to strike with lightening reflexes on the off-chance that ‘Batesy’ announced a song I liked. 

As such, the songs with an asterisk next to them in the above list are the ones I definitely remember recording and keeping. Although I must have tuned in a little bit earlier than I cared to admit, because I also recall recording the song at No. 24 in the charts that week, purely for the smooching opportunities it provided.

Terrifyingly, it was Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias performing ‘To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before’.

Pucker up, Debbie Jarvis… this could be your dream night…



  Justin wrote @

I think Derek Griffiths and Wesley Snipes are in a completed film called Gallowmaker which is, um, a zombie-western.
The cast on IMDb doesn’t mention Griffiths but there’s a picture of him on this page about the film:

  Justin wrote @

Oops; sorry, Gallowwalker is the correct name of the fim

  bobfischer wrote @

Sensational – thanks mate! No sign of a DVD, then? I’d actually like to see this, especially if Derek does a bit of body popping in it.

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