Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts From Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 131

Thursday 10th May 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.00. First at school we had to read, then I did some research on optical illusion. Did that all morning then at 12.00 I had dinner. After dinner it was indoor playtime so me and Ozzie did some monster drawings.

After that it was maths groups, so I did maths, then it was announced that levendale had won the safety poster award. Came home at 3.15 and wrote some of the FF, then I had tea and after that I washed my hair. After a run on the field with Poggy Doggy I watched Top of the pops, then at 8.5. I watched Porridge.

Went to bed at 8.45.


Yay! We won the Safety Poster Award!!!!

Just to recap… all three primary schools in Yarm had been asked to contribute entries to a regional Road Safety campaign, with their (ahem) most talented (and gullible) junior artists being pressganged into designing posters to encourage reponsible behaviour on our town’s highways and byeways. I’d won the Fourth Year Junior heat in our school, and then – as was announced on this very day – our school’s collective efforts had managed to scoop the overall prize. Hoorah!

I had, of course, reacted to all of this with implausible 11-year-old cool, shrugging my shoulders, mumbling, and staring at my feet whenever it was mentioned. Outwardly, I maintained the appearance that it was all a bit beneath me, and I didn’t need – hey – the approval of ‘The Man’ to validate my artistic talents.

Inwardly, of course, I wanted to WIN WIN WIN AND PROVE TO THE WORLD THAT I WAS THE BEST BEST BEST, so when it was announced that well-mannered, bespectacled eight-year-old Simon James had won the overall individual prize for best contribution, I was seething.

I even remember feeling slightly aggrieved that I was dragged from my usual territory to endure the announcement. It was made by a besuited, silver-haired dignitary from some authority or other (Stockton Countil, possibly? Or maybe the Education Authority?) in the school’s Middle Band, where Mrs Moore and Mrs Powell presided over an unruly kingdom of six-to-eight year olds. Oh, the indignity of it all.

Afterwards, we were all taken into the Amazingly Hairy Mr Chalkley’s office for the official presentation. Oddly, I’ve always had an ‘unofficial’ picture detailing this event… I’ve no idea who took this, or how it came into my possession, but it’s been stored neatly in my parents’ sideboard for the last 25 years…


The grown-up in the picture is the unidentified dignitary (it’s a long shot, I know, but anyone know who he is or where he’s from?) and I’m lurking in the bottom left hand corner looking suitably cheesed off. The poster, by the way, says ‘WATCH OUT FOR ANIMALS! THEY’RE DEADLY ON THE ROAD!’ and shows a dopey-looking dog and sheep (momentarily putting their innate differences aside for the sake of road safety) being threatened by a red Lada Niva.

I’m slightly ashamed to say that the only other kids in this picture I can name are the Overall Winner Simon James (in the grey shirt next to me, holding his – grrrrr, I’m not bitter – winner’s trophy) and my friend Tom Stainer, in the stripey jumper at the back, looking rightly proud at having incorporated a Weetabix Skinhead into his picture. He knew wot was good for him. Okaaay?

The indoor dinnertime means it must have been raining on this day, so that won’t have added to my overall mood, although it’s good to see that I was still working on yet another destined-to-be-unfinished Fighting Fantasy book. This will have been why Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald (whose picture can never be shown enough on this blog) and I spent most the day working on ‘monster drawings’, no doubt – as always – incorporating our friends and teachers into the strange, magical world of Fighting Fantasy.

Look out for the dreaded, terrifying Chalkeybeast, especially if there’s a full moon on the horizon.

Top Of The Pops! Yay. Presented on this occasion by the unlikely dream-team of John Peel and David ‘Kid’ Jensen, and featuring the following motley troupe of turns…

• Belle & The Devotions – Love Games [Performance]
• Bob Marley & The Wailers – One Love (People Get Ready) [Promo Video]
• Duran Duran – The Re-Flex [Promo Video]
• Flying Pickets – When You’re Young And In Love [Performance]
• Pointer Sisters – Automatic (& Zoo Insert) [Promo Video]
• Queen – I Want To Break Free [Promo Video]
• Terri Wells – Ill Be Around [Performance]

It took me a while to work out what the ‘Zoo Insert’ incorporated into the Pointer Sisters song was, and I was slightly disappointed to realise that their song wasn’t constantly interrupted by footage of scratching hyenas and yawning penguins at Whipsnade or Chessington World Of Adventures. Zoo were Top of the Pops’ 1980s dance troupe, the leopardskin-clad successors to Pan’s People and Legs And Co. 

I can’t find any footage of them whatsoever online, so instead have a bit of Belle and the Devotions, no doubt smarting from their recent seventh-placed finish in the Eurovision Song Contest. 

I knew how they felt.



  Tom Stainer wrote @

I think enough time has passed for me to admit that I think I nicked the slogan on my poster from somewhere else. Then again, I can barely remember what I did at Conyers, never mind Levendale, so I could be being harsh on myself.

Thanks for the amble down memory lane!

  bobfischer wrote @

It’s all coming out now. This could be bigger than the MPs’ Expenses.

Nice to see you round here, Mr S!

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