Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 125

Friday 4th May 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. Got the bus at 8.30 and at school we had to do some language. Then we went into the hall while the paintings were judged and at 12.00 I had dinner.

Afer dinner I read, then at 2.00 We went out for cricket. We won easy! When we came in it was assembly and I won the poster competition.

Came home at 3.15 and typed till tea, then I went out and played Cricket with dad. At 8.30 I watched That’s my boy and at 9.00 I typed again. Went to bed at 9.30.


Ah, the sweet smell of success! No doubt mingling with the slightly less sweet smell of farts, Sherbert Dib-Dabs and burnt Spam Fritters. But yes, I remember our Road Safety posters being displayed neatly around the edges of the hall while our esteemed judge (the amazingly hairy Mr Chalkley, I think) perused them, scribbling down furtive comments in his Strickland & Holts notepad.


The word on the street (well, Glaisdale Road anyway) was that it was between me and Paul ‘Clarkie’ Clarke. I guess I just got lucky. Although I should probably point out that this was just the preliminary heat, battled out between budding artists from OUR YEAR ONLY. In a few days time, the school’s overall winner would be chosen by (gasp!) someone from the PTA… either Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine, but I can’t remember which.

Another strange memory from (definitely) this day… the ‘language’ work we did in the morning took place in the middle room of our trendy, open-plan school, and – for some reason – half a dozen of the tables that were normally scattered haphazardly around the place had been pushed together to make one big, banquetting-style affair in the middle. Doug and I plonked ourselves on it, pretending to eat Henry VIII-style chicken legs before throwing them over our shoulders (well, we’d seen Sid James do it in Carry On Henry) and at least another dozen scruffy oiks joined us.


Amongst them was the lovely Wendy Brunskill, who sat next to us. Wendy was sharp and funny, and had at her disposal a withering sarcastic glare capable of cutting any 11-year-old oik down to size (apart from Glenn Henman, who was already short enough and had to take growth hormone tablets with his Um Bongo). Amazingly she’d become a good friend of ours over the preceding months, and I say ‘amazingly’ because Wendy was (and the more attentive of you may have spotted this already) A GIRL.

It was almost unprecedented at this stage for this to happen. Normally, as far as we lads were concerned, girls were weird creatures who liked netball and ponies, and existed for two reasons only… 1) so we could talk about which ones we fancied, sniggering behind our hands and swearing EVERYONE to TOTAL SECRECY (in which case, expect a Page 5 feature in the Evening Gazette Late Final before teatime)  and 2) so we could torment them with earwigs and dead worms.


But Doug and I had made an exception for Wendy, who didn’t seem to have any great objection to earwigs at all. And the one snippet of conversation I remember from this day was Wendy stopping Mrs Keasey in her tracks and asking (pauses for breath) if she liked the new Duran Duran single that we’d all seen on Top of the Pops the previous night… The Reflex (flexflexflexflex).


I’d never heard anyone strike up a conversation with one of our teachers like this, and there was a Cuban Missile-style moment of tension before Mrs Keasey smiled and said ‘Yeah, it’s pretty good’. It was a true revelatory moment for me, and one in which I realised that some of our teachers – who we’d been brought up to think of as great, ancient authority figures – were actually not that much older than us.

Apart from Mr Chalkley, of course. He had a beard, and had therefore clearly been formed by glacial ice movements in the pre-Cambrian era.

Good to see the sweet smell of success (and farts, and Sherbert Dib Dabs, etc…) also extending to the cricket, and our unlikely afternoon victory clearly put me in the mood for a bit of leather on willow with my Dadl. Or, more accurately, tennis ball on chipboard. I MIGHT have had a proper cricket bat by this stage, but definitely a year or two earlier I was gleefully using a ‘home-made’ bat that my Dad had cut out of a slab of left-over chipboard from our new kitchen units from MFI.

Whatever we were using, I was still under the influence of Robin Of Sherwood at this point, and convinced myself that I could use Magic Powers to influence the direction of my Dad’s bowling. And so, every time he ran up the garden path to bowl his overarm googly, I scrunched up my eyes and attempted to influence his delivery using THE POWER OF MY MIND ALONE.


As ball after ball were lamped over the conifers in the direction of the Remand Home across the road, I became more and more certain that I was the possessor of strange, psychic, telekinetic powers, and this bizarre delusion actually took increasingly hold on me over the course of the next few weeks… so there’s more of this rubbish to come – watch this space!

 But, of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and so I went to bed after ‘That’s My Boy’ dreaming of the best ways to use my new-found abilities.

I think I settled on stealing Sherbert Dib-Dabs from the VG Shop and attacking Wendy Brunskill with a plague of earwigs.


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