Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 129

Tuesday 8th May 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and at 8.00 I got up. First at school it was assembly, then when we came out we had to do a sheet on eyes. Did that till dinner at 12.00, then after dinner it was maths groups. Did maths and at 3.15 I came home.

Then Doug came and we went to the library and got some books on light. Doug went home soon after, and I had tea, then we took Grandma home. After that me and Dad took Poggy Doggy on the field, and at 9.00 I watched The Young Ones. Went to bed at 9.30.

Aaah, Yarm Library! Where I learned to read, basically. As soon as we moved to Yarm, in early 1977, my Mum enrolled me as a Junior member of the Library, giving me three slightly fluffy green cards with my name on to excange for books whenever I liked. As an avowed teeny reader (there was nothing I couldn’t tell you about Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men) I was amazed and astonished that anyone would give me books to read FOR FREE, and threw myself into library-based excitement for at least the next twenty years. 


For the first few years, these mainly consisted of either Star Wars or Doctor Who related stuff. I borrowed the hardback  of Alan Dean Foster’s ‘Splinter Of The Minds Eye’ from Yarm Library despite the fact that I owned the  paperback already… I think it was just the novelty of having some OTHER STAR WARS stuff in the house that appealed, as though I was trying to entice Luke Skywalker himself to walk in through the sliding kitchen door and shake my hand to thank me for my devotion.

(Before my Dad told him to ‘wipe that bloody sand off your feet before you come in here, and put that bloody sword down before you have somebody’s eye out’.)


The Library was a fabulously austere and musty place back in those days. The smell of sulphurous old pages and dusty covers, the prim, elderly librarians peering over their horn-rimmed specs (on chains, like Larry Grayson’s), and the claustrophobic shelves pushed together with scant regard to Feng Shui (if you’d mentioned this in 1977, we’d have thought it was one of David Carradine’s mates from ‘Kung Fu’). I found it enticing and mysterious, like a location from a scary Doctor Who episode itself.

By 1984 though, I was starting to appreciate the value of Yarm Library as an educational tool. I’d like to say that a burning desire to expand the boundaries of my knowledge and self-worth drove me into its dusty bosom, but in reality it simply provided opportunities to nick clever-looking stuff from books that my teachers probably wouldn’t have read. I’ve no idea what ‘books on light’ Doug and I purloined from the shelves on this day, but I can guarantee that half their content will have turned up wholesale in our schoolwork before the end of the week.  

I remember the ‘sheet on eyes’ though. A lovely cross-section of the human eye, with pupils, iris, retina and Larry Grayson-style-specs-on-a-chain all expertly detailed.

And woah…



…a little moment’s respect please for The Young Ones. The first episode of the second series of a programme that had already become a comedic bible for an entire playground generation.


I don’t have to explain The Young Ones, surely? I’d seen the first series on first broadcast in 1982, because – brilliantly – my Dad watched it. I think I mention this in ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’, but my Dad has always had marvellously eclectic and surreal comedy tastes. Lots of my friends parents stuck rigidly to their mainstream TV sitcoms, but my Dad loved Spike Milligan and Monty Python, and my childhood was spent watching all the cutting-edge stuff on TV with him… The Young Ones, Not The Nine O’Clock News, Who Dares Wins, Blackadder and so on. 

So I’d felt a bit sniffy and superior being only one of a select group who’d seen Rik, Vyvyan, Neil and Mike going through their anarchic paces the first time around. But now EVERYONE knew and loved The Young Ones, and this episode – ‘Bambi’, the University Challenge one, instantly became the stuff of legend. EVERYTHING about it was perfect… Rik’s suicide attempt with Laxative pills (leading to endless farty impersonations in the playground), Vyvyan’s head rolling out of the train window, Toxteth O’Grady’s world record attempt, and ‘I’m just going to have to wee on Lord Snot’s head…’

I sprawled across the armchair in our front room and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed, and I knew that ALL of my friends were doing exactly the blimming same.  

I’m going off now to stuff loads and loads of paper down the toilet. I bet you always wondered who did that.



  Patsy wrote @

Hmmm, glad you love libraries, but have to tell you that as a librarian I’m not prim nor do I wear specs a la Larry Grayson on a chain 😉 I do wish libraries were still those mysterious caverns that they used to be though..

Once again, your dad has great taste – and did you know that Otway was in one of the episodes of ‘The Young Ones’ ?

  bobfischer wrote @

Oh yes! I remember seeing Otway doing Body Talk on this 1984 run of episodes, and he always stuck in my mind. I think he’s in the last ever episode, isn’t he?

  Phil Shoo wrote @

Yep! It was the start of the scene where they are sleeping rough, having been evicted by Mr Balowski. Towards the end of the song Vyvyan makes a low threat to make Mr Otway’s body talk. Despite this relocation, the Post Office was able to deliver the lads’ exam results – through their agent Mr Lenny Henry, bizarrely attired as Hitler (Rik alludes that it was a result of giving someone a uniform). But alas! The postie has abused his powers and has read the results: You haf come bottom in zer whole verld!

  bobfischer wrote @

That’s right! Blimey, I haven’t seen that for ages. I think Norman Lovett makes his first TV appearance in that episode as well, standing in the post office queue behind Jools Holland?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: