Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 133

Saturday 12th May 1984

Woke up at 7.30 and got up at 7.50. Went to Middlesbrough and bought Snakedance, then I went to Grandma’s and had dinner. Came back at 1.30 and went down to Doug’s, then we went to my house and played some tapes.

Then Doug went home and I had tea, and at 6.00 I watched the Grumbleweeds. Then Doug’s mam rang to see if Doug could sleep, and at 6.30 I watched Robin of Sherwood. Doug came at 7.30 and we mucked on upstairs, and at 9.15 We went to bed and mucked on till 10.00, When we settled down.


Since when did I get up so early on a Saturday? I must have been desperate to get my hands on Snakedance, the latest Doctor Who book, an adaptation of the 1983 TV story that starred a young Martin Clunes as the terrifying alien heir Lon, a vision in cloud-covered tunic and Marigold rubber gloves…


And yes, I remember reading it on the cream sofa in my Gran’s front room, as Saturday Superstore and Grandstand burbled away in the background…

…and I also remember committing a minor crime back at Doug’s house. Yikes! Yes, I’m now prepared to confess all and face everything the judicial system can throw at me. Doug’s sister Jen, who was a couple of years older than us, was sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and talking about boys with her mother. Doug and I, wandering lazily around the side of the house, noticed that she’d left her bedroom window open, and a cassette copy of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music 2’ lying unattended on her bedside table.


So we climbed in and nicked it. Or, rather, Doug did. I stayed outside acting as look-out, and revving up the Getaway Chopper. (By the way, there was no shinning up a drainpipe required for this act of grand larceny – Doug lived in a bungalow, and regularly entered the house via window. In fact, I think for at least four months in 1983, he managed to avoid using the front door completely)

He grabbed the chunky cassette and clambered back onto the drive, at which point my nerve wobbled and I begged him to put it back. ‘What’s the matter?’ he asked, looking genuinely concerned. ‘Guilty conscience?’ 

‘No,’ I replied. ‘Just scared of your sister finding out and knacking us’. However my reservations soon evaporated when I saw the mouth-watering track listing, and within seconds you couldn’t see us for dust… (well, EXTRA dust anyway. On top the usual cloud of filth and grime that permanently followed us around Yarm’s highways and byeways…) 

The tracklisting is here for anyone that fancies a look – what a veritable treasure trove of 1980s pop!


We did, of course, try to make a bootleg copy of it (HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC!) by lashing up two portable cassette recorders from Currys to each other using the cable from my Sinclair ZX81. It didn’t work, so we had to seize the moment ourselves and spent the rest of the afternoon doing the strange pseudo-Nazi salutes from Queen’s brilliant ‘Radio Ga Ga’ video from my bedroom window, gaining a few strange looks from my Dad as he mowed the lawn on the side garden.

Then, no doubt, I left Doug to sneakily return the tape himself as I settled down to watch The Grumbleweeds. Back in 1984, this brilliantly motley assortment were ITV’s kings of Light Entertainment, and their show was fab… a riot of super-fast sketches, impressions and utterly silly musical mickey-takes. I wish they were better represented on Youtube, but I can’t find much at all…

But yay! Doug was staying the night! I’ve no idea how this came about, other than his mother wanting to get him out of the way while CID tore the house apart, investigating the great Now That’s What I Call Music 2 Robbery of 1984. But I watched the evening’s episode of Robin Of Sherwood in a state of hyper excitement, knowing full well that a night of whispered filth and farting competitions lay ahead us.

(And it was the ‘Four Poor Knights From Acre’ episode, featuring future Victoria Wood sidekick Duncan Preston as the terrifying, scar-faced leader of a Knights Templar faction arriving in Nottingham to cause havoc. It’s still my favourite-ever episode of Robin of Sherwood, and this night actually gets quite a detailed write-up in the RoS chapter of ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’… still available at a very reasonable price, plug plug!)


Doug had missed the episode (probably being interrogated by Special Branch about Cassettegate) so I gave him a full recap, complete with sound effects and dubious Ray Winstone impersonation. And then a camp bed was set up on my bedroom floor so we could bunk down for the night and embark on the Quarter Final of our long-running Flatulence Tournament (Doug sneaked through to the Semis after a riveting tie-break).

One strange and utterly trivial memory from this night… I must have had a slight cold recently, as I remember picking a scab from the underside of my nose as we lie in the dark chuntering on to each other. And, at some point, the conversation turned back to the gruesome murder that we were convinced we’d uncovered during our stay at Carlton Camp (read all about this here). There was no hint of irony or fantasy to this conversation… we were convinced we’d chanced upon the scene of a brutal crime, and spent lots of the night working out the best way to inform the local police.

Without their investigations leading to Queen and Nik Kershaw-related arrests, obviously…



  Fiona Tims wrote @

haha I always wondered where I remember the main Knight from-thanks for reminding me!

And I seem to recall Radio Gaga being the first ever single I bought.

Happy days!

  bobfischer wrote @

Hi Fiona, I might not have helped that much, actually – I got it wrong! I actually watched Seven Poor Knights From Acre last night, and although Duncan Preston’s in it, he’s not the leader of the Templars… he’s the one that Robin fights with a mace and shield in the ‘trail by combat’ bit. The memory cheats! 🙂

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Haha what’s even funnier-is I meant that guy, D’oh. He was the second in command I think?
Anyone I know who you meant ;p

  bobfischer wrote @

Yeah. that’s him! He plays Clifford in Acorn Antiques, and he’s in Dinnerladies as well. A fine actor… he also seems to be the long-term partner of the Susan Penhaligon, the lucky swine.


One of the gorgeous trio of Sexy Seventies Susans, along with Misses Hampshire and George.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

To the pulchritudinous pantheon of Sexy Seventies Susans must also be added Jameson and Stranks.
With Suzy Kendal amongst the Apocrypha.

  bobfischer wrote @

Cripes, you’re right. There were more Sexy Seventies Susans than I’d ever previously considered. What a great Seventies name, are there are any Susans under the age of 35 walking the Earth any more? Or are they all Suzii and Suzette these days?

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