Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 146

Friday 25th May 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. First at school I read, then I finished Maths 3 with Stan and started Maths 4. Had dinner at 12.00 and after that we played Tip it. Did Maths 4 all afternoon and at 3.15 I came home and played patientce.

Then I played on the ramp outside till tea. After tea I went out again, and at 7.00 I watched The pyramid game. At 7.50 I watched Odd One Out, then at 8.20 I watched Time of your life.

After that I went out, then I came in and played patience. Went to bed at 11.20.

‘You can go out with Doug and Paul Huggins, but you’re back to school in the morning’. I imagine that had been the proviso attached to my exploits the previous evening, and I hadn’t been able to resist. So after two days of ‘illness’ attempting to cultivate a hacking cough and pretending I was ‘off my food’ (as I pushed a Findus Crispy pancake around a plate), I was piled back onto the Worsall bus and sent to endure a rare day of education before the half-term holidays.

I remember Doug and Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald meeting me off the school bus at the entrance to our playground. ‘Where have you been?’ asked Ozzie, with a raised eyebrow. ‘I’ve had the bug,’ I growled, ‘I really shouldn’t be here…’.

I did this in an entirely unconvincing ‘I AM ILL’ voice, pitched somewhere between Clint Eastwood at his hoarse whisperer peak and Phyllis Pearce from Coronation Street.

‘Bollocks,’ said Doug. ‘We were out on the bikes last night and you weren’t talking like that’.

I shut up for the rest of the day, and concentrated on my maths.


Good to see Andrew ‘Stan’ Henry and I completing the latest of our Maths books… I think we had four of these to finish throughout the course of the year, so we now had half a term left to race through ‘MATHS 4 (THE VOYAGE HOME)’ before putting aside childish things and leaving Levendale Primary School for the terrifying bigness of Conyers, Yarm’s sprawling comprehensive.

I was never much cop at maths. In fact, I struggled so much with simple multiplication that, at the age of six, my Mum made a rare foray into the school staff room to speak to Mrs Keasey because the trauma of attempting to multiply six by nine was keeping me awake at nights. And I’ve still never mastered long division. I HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT and – after deciding at the age of eight that I was never going to be able to do it, I just gave up there and then. I’m actually slightly proud of the fact that I managed to get through a further ten years of state education without any of my teachers really noticing.

I never washed my neck or behind my ears, either.


A couple of strange, haphazard memories that undoubtedly stem from this day…

1. Telling Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald that a new book, simply called ‘Fighting Fantasy’ had been issued, containing detailed instructions on exactly how to construct your OWN Fighting Fantasy book. ‘Get it!!!’ he hissed, his eyes aflame. I tapped my nose and said I’d do my best.

2. Saying the word ‘Maths’ with a strange, hissy ‘s’ sound on the end, as in ‘Mathshshshshshshsssss’. This was inspired by Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank unwittingly mispronouncing the word during casual conversation, a mistake inevitably seized upon by the rest of us grotty oiks and cruelly exploited for comedy value for at least the next six months.

3. Doing ‘backwards talk’ so much throughout the course of the afternoon that Mrs Keasey (or Srm Yeseak, as I was now calling her) told me, in no uncertain terms, to ‘jack that in. NOW’.

‘KO’, I replied, bravely, and ran away.

I’d been slowly cultivating this utterly pointless talent for a few months, ever since first being entranced by Bill Homewood’s shambling Australian character in the ‘The Adventure Game’, but it all came to a head on this particular afternoon. Doogy Rev, Doogy Rev.


OK, a few entirely inconsequential TV bits for those that haven’t been paying attention… ‘One By One’ was a cosy, thoroughly entertaining BBC drama starring Rob Heyland as vet Donald Turner, treating exotic animals in a variety of zoos and constantly crossing tranquiliser darts with the mighty James Ellis, playing grumpy Irish dung-sweeper Paddy Reilly. I presume it was intended as the ‘new’ All Creatures Great And Small, and it ran for three series until 1987.

‘Odd One Out’ was an amiable Paul Daniels-hosted quiz show, punctuated throghout with some marvellously jaunty organ music. Here’s the gripping final round…

And Time of Your Life was Noel Edmonds taking Random Celebrity Of The Week (Dave Lee Travis, Barry Cryer, Barbara Dickson etc) and immersing them in the music, film and TV of a time when they were doing particularly well in their career.

I probably practised doing a bit of long division while this was on.


  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I am somewhat relieved to discover that when you watched ‘Odd One Out’ it was not the John Inman sitcom set (I fear I recall) in a fish and chip shop. Now I (shudder to) think of it, that might have been called ‘Odd Man Out’. Man or One, it had certainly ceased to take up schedule space by 1984.

Or had it? Until now I’d have scorned any suggestion that ‘One By One’ ran for three whole series. I suppose that at the time I was inhaling rather a lot of crushed potassium permanganate in the course of my scientific research and that this has affected my memory.

Certainly, boron ingestion was at the root of that very peculiar morning when I thought the headlines were telling me that David Bowie had married John Inman.

Sdrager dnof,

Lecrap Selig Rd

  Justin wrote @

Re One by One… my wife keeps bugging me about why oh why oh why it sin’t out on DVD yet… any thoughts?

  Chris Orton wrote @

Probably cos’ barely anybody else remembers it. I’d love to see it again though. Rob Heyland is now a successful writer of TV drama. He wrote a load of Between the Lines, and later some of er… Ultimate Force.

  bobfischer wrote @


I’ve never seen ‘Odd Man Out’ but I have recently watched all six episodes of John Inman’s 1981 sitcom ‘Take A Letter Mr Jones’, and unashamedly enjoyed it! The opening sequence is worth the entrance money alone…

How kind!

And yikes… here’s a bit of Odd Man Out as well…

When oh when oh when will we see these gems on DVD?

Speaking of which, ‘Odd One Out’ does seem to be one of those shows that’s been completely forgotten, despite the fact that it ran on primetime BBC1 for several years and was presumably watched by millions of punters. I remember the first series in particular being very strong, with a really nice period 1950s feel. I’d love to see it on DVD.

Had no idea about Rob Heyland’s writing career, the last time I remember seeing him on TV was in an advert for Pepperami, possibly sometime in the early 1990s? I think he auditioned to be Doctor Who though, for the TV movie gig that eventually went to Paul McGann. I’m sure I’ve even seen some stills from his audition tape.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I have no doubt these will come to DVD before too long. If the likes of ‘Take A Letter Mister Jones’, ‘Yus, My Dear’ and ‘That Beryl Marston!’ can be made available to the sell-through market then all bets are off, to be blunt.

  bobfischer wrote @

He’s having a pop at ‘Take A Letter Mister Jones’ now. I demand a second opinion, Dr Parcel!

  bobfischer wrote @

PS I’d never heard of That Beryl Marston until you mentioned it, but – as our French cousins would say – ‘Garcon oh garcon, c’est pour moi!’

Order in. Looking forward to a bit of Hunt/McKenzie action.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Although it must be 26 years since I saw ‘That Beryl Marston!’ I could still sing the theme tune down the telephone to anybody who asked. Not that anybody ever does. And yet all I can really remember about the programme itself is that a) It didn’t raise many laughs from me and b) a very young and ‘new romantic’-looking Jonathon Morris virtually narrated it, making lots of little soliloquies straight to camera. Please let me know if either memory is a false one.
Am I wrong about ‘Take A Letter…’? Is it a neglected jewel after all? I only remember an awful lot off laboured eye-rolling (on and off the screen)

  bobfischer wrote @

It’s fine… don’t expect your socks to be literally laughed off, but it’s certainly no worse than plenty of other sitcoms of the time. If nothing else, it absolutely stinks of 1981 – within thirty seconds you’ll be hankering after a Rubik Cube and looking forward to lovely Lady Di getting hitched.

  Steve wrote @

I have a maths degree and if my memory doesn’t deceive me, I hated long division at school too.

‘One by one’ was apparently based on the autobiography of (from memory) David Taylor. The two cheap paperbacks I had of it were branded with ads for the TV series, but I assume (James Herriot style) he wrote them independently and the publishers cashed in on later editions.

Great blog and I still live in hope of a second season covering 1985. Perhaps a kickstarter project for a charity donation in return for a 1985 blog is in order?

  bobfischer wrote @

Thanks Steve, that’s very kind! I do actually have a 1985 diary, but it’s not as detailed as the 1984 version (often just a couple of pithy sentences about how boring my life was – yes, I’d developed teenage self-awareness by 1985), so I’m not sure it would work. I might have a look again, though.

Really thrilled you’re enjoying this stuff so much, though! Feel free to keep commenting, I still read everything posted on here.

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