Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 130

Wednesday 9th May 1984


Oh Foogies! Teachers on strike so no school. Got up at 9.00 when Doug came, and we went on Levendale. Met Stan at the VG, then we went down Deadman’s creek and past school. Came home at 12.00 and had dinner, then we all went to Carlton bank.

Me and Doug went up on our own, got lost, and had to ask a hanglider the way. Then we met dad and rolled down the same hill that we did on 31 March.  When we got back Doug went home and I had tea.

Then I watched The rebel, a film with Tony Hancock in. When that had finished I mucked about outside on the bike, and at about 9.30 I went to bed.

I guess everyone now thinks of the 1970s as the golden age of industrial action, but 1984 was having a good tilt at the title as well. Certainly by this time of year the extraordinarily vicious miners’ strike was dominating the headlines, and now the teachers were also showing signs of discontent. Luckily for us, things didn’t get TOO heated at Levendale Primary School. Although undoubtedly when Doug and I went ‘past school’ we were having a cheeky look to see if Mr Hirst and Mr Millward were standing in donkey jackets next to a burning brazier outside the temporary Nursery School cabin.


I’m not sure how much notice we kids got about these things. I have, rattling around in the back of my cobwebbed mind, very vague memories of my Mum waking me up on this VERY morning to tell me… erm, not to bother waking up because Frank Bough had just informed her about the last-minute strike. But I’ve also got memories of us receiving a few days notice in writing, so who can say? (Probably one of my old teachers actually, but what are the chances of one of them reading this…? Snigger, snigger…)

And ‘Foogies’?!?!? What??!?! Undoubtedly a word of my own invention, and I’m quite proud of the fact that my little group of scruffy oiks were good at making up our own swear words and euphemisms. I’m going to start using them again in everyday conversation and to see if anyone notices and, indeed, joins in. If I come across any of my old school friends, it’ll be like our own private Masonic code. I’ll be the Grand Poobah of Foogies, which I suspect is a sentence that’s never before been written in the history of human civilisation.


stanAnyway, one other little snippet before we press onto (puff, pant) Carlton Bank. When we met Stan (above) at the VG Shop, he was wearing a blue denim jacket with a red football scarf (Nottingham Forest, I think, who we all had  a soft spot for, mainly thanks to the hypnotic influence of Brian Clough) tucked into the collar. I’d never seen a scarf worn like this before, but I thought it was the height of good taste and I still wear my Boro scarf on matchdays in a similar style these days. I bet Stan never realised he was such a leader in the fashion stakes.

This also means it must have been a chilly day, so what better opportunity for a bracing wander up to Carlton Bank? Both of my parents definitely accompanied Doug and I on this windy jolly – my Mum worked at the school (in the kitchens) so that explains why she was free for the day, and I’m wondering if my Dad was possibly out of work at the time…? I can’t remember. I’ll find out, though. 

This was my first visit back to the North Yorkshire Moors since our week at Carlton Outdoor Education Centre (have a look back at the diary entries from Friday 30th March onwards – there’s some belting stuff!) and I didn’t miss the opportunity to take some cracking photos…


Doug (on the left) and me, at Pin Point, right on the top of Carlton Bank. You can actually see a film of myself and Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones revisiting this location if you check out this diary entry.

I love the fact that we got lost. I think my Dad parked the car at the foot of the bank, and Doug and I – being veteran moorland ramblers – said, knowingly, ‘Actually, we know our own secret way to the top… you set off in your boring, dreary grown-up way, and we’ll see you up there…’  

Naturally, within ten minutes we were wandering utterly lost around the desolate, windswept slate mines, contemplating spending the rest of our days living wild amongst the trees and heather, and surviving on nuts, berries and lightning raids on the Blackwell Ox in Carlton village. (Actually, considering I was in the middle of a Robin Of Sherwood love affair, this was pretty much my ideal lifestyle).

We did indeed have to ask a grounded hang-glider, all wrapped up in bits of dayglo plastic and chrome, ‘where the top of Carlton Bank is, please?’. At which point he rolled his eyes and pointed at the bloody great towering slab of slate and heather directly in front of us and said. ‘There. Where that bloke this. Up there. Yeah?’  

‘That bloke’ was clearly my Dad, visible as a tiny silhouette against the expressionless grey sky a thousand feet above us. We thanked him and set off, and when we got the top, we got the camera out to celebrate. The shot above was the first one taken, swiftly followed by this…


Yep, my Dad with Poggy Doggy. Large dogs just love being picked up. Go on, give it a try. They can’t get enough of it. NB I take no responsibility if you lose a hand. I love that parka as well, and I want one now. Does anyone know anywhere that still stocks old-school parkas? I want a blue one with the itchy fur-lined collar, orange lining and drawstring around the waist. And I want to flap it above my head and walk into the wind at the top of Carlton Bank.

(Did anyone else do this? On a windy day at Levendale Primary School, any lad worth his salt would instantly put his coat on, then hold his hands stiffly above his head so the back of the coat rose in the air and formed a kind of wind trap. We’d then march stiffly into the direction of the wind from one end of the playground to the other, and frequently be blown off our feet. From the staff room window, it must have looked like a cloud of Giant Bats in attack formation, albeit Giant Bats made of out luridly-coloured bits of plastic and nylon. Watch the Doctor Who story ‘State of Decay’ and you’ll see one of these immortalised for posterity)


And my Mum, sitting on a log. The hill that we rolled down is behind her… but I’ve tried repeatedly to find this location, and failed miserably. I suppose the log might have long since vanished, and some of the moorland has changed shape around Carlton Bank as well… there are, as I mentioned, lots of slate mines, and bits of it that were free to access in 1984 are now completely cordoned off. I’ll keep trying, though.

And ‘The Rebel’! A great film that I haven’t seen for years, but I must dig out on DVD sometime. It’s great that this stuff was still being shown on primetime evening TV as late as 1984, although I suppose it was probably on BBC2. 

How do you mix your paints? In a bucket with a big stick…



  Chris Orton wrote @

I’m sure that we did do the bat-coat thing at some point, but one of the other things that we used to do when we were very small was wear the coat (and that coat was invariably a blue, orange-lined Parka – I’m sure that those things were fire hazards you know as the material that they were made from was distinctly flammable-looking) purely by the hood: i.e. put the hood on your head, fasten the top button of the coat and don’t put your arms inside. I’ve no idea what that was all about, but I think that it also involved putting your arms out and pretending that you were ‘flying’.

I went to a very small primary school, and we had to make our own entertainment.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I also still love Parkas!

  Thing wrote @

The Rebel’s always been a favourite film of mine. For some reason, the copies they show on TV are better prints than the one used for DVD though. The DVD release is 4:3 and rather washed out looking, whereas the TV broadcasts of it are 16:9 and seemingly restoration quality.

  bobfischer wrote @

We definitely did that with our Parkas as well, Chris… it made it look like you were wearing a cape! And therefore gave you ample opportunity to be either a) Superman or b) Darth Vader, depending on how mean a mood you were in.

Does anywhere still sell old-school parkas? I definitely want one before next Winter.

And cheers for that, Thing… I’d been meaning to buy it on DVD for ages, but I might hold off now. 🙂

  emku wrote @

Try ebay for the parkas, or indeed thatindielook – http://www.thatindielook.com/acatalog/Parka_s.html

  emku wrote @

Did you ever get one of those parkas?

  bobfischer wrote @

Ha! I didn’t, actually. Maybe I should, it’s the middle of May now and it’s still bloody freezing on Teesside.

  emku wrote @

It would certainly be the right thing to wear in your videos as you revisit childhood haunts!

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