Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 148

Sunday 27th May 1984

Woke up at 10.00 and got up at 10.10. Put some posters on the wall, then went downstairs and played cards till dinnertime at 12.00 because it was raining. After dinner the rain stopped a bit so I went out and played on the bike, then I started to paint the chopper with Black undercoat.

After that I had tea, then after tea I did some more of my bike till 7.00, when I helped in the kitchen. At 7.15 I watched last of the summer wine. After that I played cards again till I watched Mastermind at About 8.00.

When that finished I just lazed about but at 9.00 I went out on the bike again. Had to come in at 9.30 to watch That’s life, then I went to bed at 10.15.

Ah, a week of half-term holiday panning out ahead of me, and what better way to negotiate a bout of filthy, unseasonal weather than by retreating to the garage and performing some essential maintenance on the second-hand Raleigh Chopper I’d bought from Doug a couple of months earlier?

So I decided, for the second time in six weeks, to ‘paint my bike’. Except this time I did it properly. This is what I did…

1. Raided my dad’s toolbox and removed every last nut, bolt, screw and washer from the bike, before proceeding to dismantle the brakes, handlebars, wheels, gears, mudguards, saddle and anything else that wasn’t surgically attached to the main framework of the Chopper (chortle)

2. Prised open a claggy tin of metal primer paint from Halfords and proceeded to splash it all over the metal frame.

3. Stood staring with an open mouth at the random piles of nuts, bolts, screws, washers, brakes, handlebars, wheels, gears, mudguards, and saddle parts scattered haphazardly around the garage floor as it slowly dawned on me that I hadn’t got a bloody clue how to put the thing back together again.

It won’t be a surprise to anyone that knows me that, six hours later, I had to drag my Dad away from Northern Life by his jumper sleeve and lock him into the garage to help me reassemble the damn thing once the paint was dry. I think it took another ten years before he was prepared to admit that he’d actually quite enjoyed himself.


My bike maintenance wasn’t helped by the fact that I think this was the day our dog, Poggy Doggy, excelled himself. At some point during the afternoon, my Dad had let the hapless hound into the back garden to perform what always described as a ‘pony’. Ten minutes later, the poor shaggy beast still hadn’t returned. An intrepid search party (me and my Mum) scoured the garden with a vague air of panic before catching, on the breeze, the vaguest hint of a pathetic whimper coming from the direction of the garage.

We found Poggy Doggy trapped helplessly between the glistening frame of my half-painted bike frame and the garage wall. He’d clearly seen something he liked the look of (a spider, a pigeon, a portal to another universe, could be anything really) and bounded over to have a good snuffle around. At which point he’d managed to make the bike frame toppled over towards him, and found himself pinned beneath it (Bear in mind that bicycles in those days were not your modern lightweight affairs… the Chopper in particular seemed to be constructed from breezeblocks and old bits of scaffolding). 

I think it took the rest of the afternoon to remove the auburn dog hair from my still-tacky bike, and the rest of the year to get the black Halford’s metal primer paint out of poor, traumatised Poggy Doggy’s mane.

OK, a few bits and bobs… one of the posters I put on my wall was undoubtedly this one: 


It had been given away free with Doctor Who Monthly earlier in the year, and I’d been meaning to Blue-Tack it to my woodchip wallpaper for ages. I was very nervous about the prospect of switching schools to Conyers comprehensive later in the year, but the one lingering consolation was that I’d be able to wear a school uniform just like Turlough.

I didn’t think  I’d get away with the camp hand-on-hip look in the Conyers dinner queue, though.

When I say I ‘helped in the kitchen’ this won’t have been any demonstration of my culinary expertise – you’ll notice we’d already had our tea by this point. I can only assume my Dad was going through one of his fortnightly ‘let’s knock a wall through’ phases, and I’d been drafted in to help assemble some kitchen units or mix the grouting for the tiles.

Some of this may or may not have been punishment for making such a horse’s arse of my bike.

And Mastermind! Still presented by the mighty Magnus Magnusson at this stage, and with train driver Chris ‘Eggheads’ Hughes as its current reigning champion. My Dad always fancied himself as a bit of a TV quizzer, and Mastermind was one of his favourites, especially in the days when the questions were ABSOLUTELY ROCK SOLID and the specialist subjects were more likely to concern the death of Mary Queen of Scots and Freud’s Theory of the Unconscious rather than ‘Sex In The City’ Season 3 and the life and work of Marian Keyes.  

I love the fact that I ‘had to come in at 9.30 to watch That’s life’  as well. Clearly my parents saw oddly-shaped vegetables and badly-stuffed cats as an integral part of my cultural education. And rightly so…


  Curt and Gert Birt wrote @

A school where the boys had to dress like Tegan might really have sorted the wheat from the chaff!

  bobfischer wrote @

Are we talking air hostess uniform Tegan, flimsy beige camisole Tegan, or patterned top and leather skirt Tegan?

These things are important.

  Curt and Gert Birt wrote @

Patterned top and leather skirt for school, camisole and pedalpushers for sports, obviously. You think anyone would make boys wear mauve?

  bobfischer wrote @

Mauve maketh the man. What a top 1980s colour. Nothing is mauve any more, is it? It ranks alongside its 1970s equivalent (‘fawn’) as a Great Lost Colour.

We should mount an expedition sometime to find it. And launch a campaign to save the seriously-endangered ‘beige’ before it goes the same, sorry way.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: