Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 126

Saturday 5th May 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and got up at 9.20. Started to draw a Dr Who picture, but at 10.00 me and dad took a lad back to Billingham and got a van for the weekend.

When we got back I typed for a bit, then had dinner, then after dinner Doug came and we played cricket. He went home around 4.30 and we went to Grandma’s and had tea. When we came back I watched Robin of Sherwood.

Then I went out and when I came in I watched the Eurovision song contest. Sweden won! After doing a quick sketch of Dr Who I went to bed at about midnight.

I’ve been trying to decipher that cryptic ‘took a lad back to Billingham’ bit, and decided that what must have happened was this… my Dad hired a van for the weekend and it was delivered to our house from the hire company’s Billingham depot, at which point we had to drive the ‘lad’ who’d brought it back to base. I have no idea what my Dad was intending to do with it, although I do remember the sheer, thrill-packed novelty of sitting IN THE BACK of a dusty white works van, being thrown around the floor whenever we turned a corner, and – no doubt – constantly humming ‘Hope it’s chips, it’s chips…’ under my breath.

My diary entry is clearly a bit vague this day, not least because I fail to mention the fact that, during the afternoon, I took these pictures in our garden…


garden21Yes, that’s Doug with Poggy Doggy. You’ll notice…

1. Another cameo appearance from our elusive cat, Sooty. The logs were the remnants of a wonky, disease-ridden tree that my Dad had chopped down in January (in fact I think it gets a few mentions if you can be bothered to scroll back) and were stockpiled there in preparation for a winter in front of our roaring open fire. Sooty spent at least half of his life perched idly on top of the pile, occasionally swiping at an unsuspecting spider with his paw.

2. Jeans with the knees worn through – compulsory dress for any 11-year-old lad worth his salt in 1984, and proof positive that we spent our lives crawling into places that we shouldn’t have been crawling into. No railwayman’s hut or building site on Teesside was safe (in any sense of the word).

3. A sensational floral deckchair, clearly bought from Upton’s in 1972, probably alongside a brown Soda Syphon and ‘James Last Plays The Hits Of Simon & Garfunkel’ on 12″ vinyl. Looking at that pattern now instantly transports me back to long-forgotten summer days, splashing around the flimsy, plastic paddling pool in my Gran’s garden and racing inside to catch the end of Why Don’t You.


We definitely travelled to my Grandma’s for tea in our new hire van, and I’ve just had the most bizarre, surreal flashback – of sitting in the front passenger seat of the van, in the sunshine, on my Gran’s drive and reading a huge feature in the Daily Mirror about the tragic life of Diana Dors. I’ve just checked, and Diana Dors had died the previous day… Friday 4th May, 1984.

This is undoubtedly a memory that’s been buried pretty much ever since that afternoon, and it was only reading about the van in this diary entry that brought it back. I remember reading years ago that old memories are never lost entirely, they just sink deeper and deeper into the subsconscious until something drags them kicking and screaming to the surface. I’d like to think that’s true, especially as we might yet be able to find out what happened to my Han Solo action figure, missing in action since a daring Rebel Alliance mission to the airing cupboard in the summer of 1982.

Incidentally, was I the only 11-year-old in 1984 who actually READ THE PAPERS? Well, two of them anyway… the Daily Mirror (which my Mum tended to buy with the morning shopping every day) and the bath towel-sized Evening Gazette (which got delivered at approximately 5pm every day, usually accompanied in our house by the traditional cry ‘Gazette’s here, Geoff!’). My Dad would then vanish inside it completely until his tea was ready. 

I remember mentioning at school one day that I read the Daily Mirror, and all of my classmates virtually recoiled in disgust at how boring and adult-like I’d become. But… it had The Perishers! And Andy Capp! And… erm… Jane? I know Jane was a huge hit in the Mirror in the 1940s, but did her (ahem) strip make a comeback in the 1980s to tie in with the Glynis Barber TV series? Anyone know?


Good to see me rapt in front of Robin Of Sherwood again… this episode was ‘The Witch Of Elsdon’, starring the lovely Angharad ‘Poldark’ Rees as a beautiful village herbalist accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death by the sour-faced Abbot Hugo. Great fun as ever, and what a way to whet my appetite for the televisual feast of the year…


Before it’s 1990s lull, and it’s post-millenium ironic makeover, Eurovision was big, appointment viewing in the 1980s (unless you were my Dad, who would pronounce the whole spectacle as ‘shite’ and disappear inside the Gazette for the duration). I’d been genuinely excited when Bucks Fizz won in 1981, and had religiously cheered on the UK ever since, especially in 1982 when the UK entry Bardo featured Crackerjack hostess Sally Ann Triplett on vocals…

(I still have the 7″ single of this in the loft somewhere, and yes… I probably bought that from Uptons as well)

Anyway, 1984’s competition came live from Luxembourg, and was presented by the gorgeous Desiree Nosbusch, who seems far too witty and quirky to be ever involved in this sort of nonsense…

(Desiree is still around, by the way – here she is!)

In grand Eurovision tradition, the winners were a bunch of soppy-looking continental types singing stupid, crash-bang-wallop lyrics will dancing around in ridiculous costumes. Stand up and honour the Godlike Genius of THE HERREYS…

I think it was 1991 before I managed to evict this bloody tune from my consciousness, and now I’ve heard it again I guess I’ve got to wait until 2016 for the torment to finally end…



  Chris Orton wrote @

Desiree Nosbusch?! Now that’s a name from an unmade Carry On film if ever I’ve heard one!

  Patsy wrote @

Ooh, liked this entry – really did bring the memories to the surface – I always thought that Diana Dors and I could be best friends (if ever she met me, and I lived in the area), never happened, alas. I think your dad has great taste with his comment about Eurovision by the way.

Think you were probably the only young lad that did actually read a newspaper. !

PS Doug was nearly as good looking as Poggie – is he still good looking 😉

  bobfischer wrote @

Hi Patsy, aww… sad to say that Doug’s no longer with us, he died last year and I cried for days. We lost touch for years after our early teens, but in recent times I’d been back in touch with him again, and it had been lovely. It was a huge shock to lose him, and there’s not a day goes by when I don’t think about him.

Good to find a fellow Diana Dors fan, even though my memories of her are probably slightly different from yours… I grew up watching her in the The Two Ronnies serial ‘The Worm That Turned’ and the video to Prince Charming! I recently caught her on an episode of Parkinson repeated on BBC4… I think it was from 1977, and she was SO charismatic and intelligent and witty.

And you leave Eurovision alone. I think John Otway should have a crack at it it one year.;-)

Oh, and Desiree Nosbusch is sweetly pretty and I want to protect her.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I love Eurovision, although I don’t remember this song at all!

  bobfischer wrote @

It’s the golden boots that I remember! I think Terry Wogan had a field day with them.

  Chris Byers wrote @

Just started reading your blog. i was so sory to hear Doug has gone. I can remember him so well form levendale and conyers.

  bobfischer wrote @

Hi Chris, nice to see you around these parts! And yes, it was so sad to hear about Doug last year. He was a great bloke, and I still miss him.

  Patsy wrote @

Was so sorry to hear about Doug – he played such a large and happy part in your life

  bobfischer wrote @

He still does. 🙂

  Patsy wrote @

We can tell – and it’s great to read about your idyllic childhood together.

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