Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 150

Tuesday 29th May 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.15. Then I went down for Doug and we came back to my house. After making two packed lunches we got on our bikes and went to the mud track, where we ate our packed lunches. Then we had a climb on the tree, and also had a muck on on the tarzie.

Then mam came with Poggy Doggy, and when she’d gone we went to the Doctor’s and rode down the steps. We went to my house then, and cooled down with a milk shake. Then we went on the Meadowings for a ride down the steps, and after that we both went home and I had tea.

Then we took Cat to the vets because he was all bloated, but there wasn’t really much wrong with him. When we came back at 8.00 I watched Morecambe and Wise, then at 8.30 I watched Sorry. At 9.00 I watched The young ones, and went to bed at 9.30.

A bakingly hot day. A brilliant, blinding white, sweat-dripping, sun-baked adventure. The tarmac was melting on the pavements, girls (and some boys) were wearing ‘Frankie Say’ T-Shirts and cut-off stonewashed jeans, the hedgerows were full of lolly sticks (with jokes) and the roads did that weird, shimmery, mirage thing twenty yards ahead of us as we cycled towards the mud track, and adventure.

I still remember the fantastic feeling of independence that making our own packed lunches gave us. I’m sure we made a bloody awful mess in the kitchen, with bits of Mothers Pride bread and egg and Stork SB everywhere, but the prospect of cycling out of our drive for the day with two Hinton’s carrier bags of mouldering ‘bait’ (and a Wagon Wheel) dangling from our wrists was thrilling beyond compare.

Food Site Pictures

And the ‘mud track’ was in full bloom as well. The tiny playpark with its swings and slide and excitingly high Tarzie seemed to have erupted overnight into a riot of daisies, daffodils and grass so lushly tall and green that Glenn Henman, our school’s resident Growth Hormone guinea pig, would never have made it from one side to the other without a pith helmet and a machete. We ate our ‘packies’ (I know, and it didn’t even occur to us…) on the swings, then both of us worked off a bit of tatrazine by scaling the groaning, wheezing tree in the centre of the park – full of the joys of life and determined to celebrate our new-found independence.

Although hands up who thinks my mother deliberately came down to check that we HAD actually gone where we said we were going?

Good to see us indulging in our new-found hobby of ‘Boneshaking’ again… getting our bikes up to full pelt and then turning a sharp corner to cycle down the steepest, hardest, most concrete-iest flights of steps we could find. Clearly after having exhausted every possible thrillseeking opportunity outside the Doctor’s surgery, we turned our attentions to the endless, almost vertical expanses of stone steps that punctuated the nearby Meadowings housing estate. I’ve walked through there recently, and it looks like a Maurice Escher drawing but with satellite dishes.


And we ‘cooled down with a milk shake’… Yeah, right. In our kitchen was a cheap and cheeful food blender from Argos, and I’d discovered that if I stole a big block of ice cream from the freezer and whisked it up in the blender, the resulting glassful of lurid, freezing sludge was the perfect pick-me-up for two 11-year-old boys visibly flagging because they hadn’t had any sugar or artifical colourants for well over three hours by this stage. Mmmmm!


(This was pre-sexy ice cream, by the way… not the modern, nutty, fruity stuff that comes in plastic bowls with little twirls and whirls all over it. These were giant, solid slabs of brightly-coloured frozen glop, housed in cardboard that was occasionally so difficult to remove that it regularly just got incorporated as part of the dessert. After close examination, I’ve concluded that Darth Vader uses the Neopolitan variety to freeze Han Solo for his trip to Tatooine in The Empire Strikes Back)

And the cat! Our poor cat, Sooty. Here he is, looking deeply suspicious of the nasty nine-year-old oik forcing him to pose for a picture…


He waddled painfully into the front room in the middle of our tea, forcing my Dad to stop dead in mid-bite of a relieved Findus Fishfinger. ‘Bloody hell, what’s happened to that thing?’ he gasped. ‘He’s the size of a bloody football…’

And he was. In fact, poor Sooty looked like he’d had an Espana ’82 World Cup football violently inserted into his innards, with his tiny legs and tail hanging pathetically in mid-air. Our tea plates were hastily cleared away and he was quickly raced to Whimpster’s Veterinary Surgery in Stokesley, where the splendidly be-quiffed Mr Whimpster prodded him with a gentle finger.

‘The blockage is definitely in his stomach,’ he mused. ‘Have you been feeding him more regularly than you normally would?’

We shook our heads, nervously.

‘I think we should give him 24 hours and see if it passes through…’ he smiled. ‘I’m pretty sure there’s nothing seriously wrong…’

And indeed there wasn’t. When we got home, the Cat sloped off to his usual sunbathing spot on top of our dusty old coal bunker. And my Dad, pottering around the garden, found the scant remains of two enormous pigeons beneath the front room window, a pathetic bundle of beaks, feathers and bones clearly very recently picked clean by, we decided, the GREEDIEST BLOODY CAT IN THE WORLD. 

Anyway, a cracking night of TV… ‘Morecambe and Wise’ was undoubtedly a special tribute to the late, great Eric Morecambe (see yesterday’s entry), ‘Sorry!’ will have been great fun as ever, and ‘The Young Ones’ was back, after a fortnights gap (anyone know why?) with the boys acquiring a video recorder and running foul of Alexei Sayle’s South African vampire (and Rumbelow’s store manager) Harry The Bastard…

Oh, have we got a video?



  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Until now it had not struck me quite how much the British ice cream experience has changed since 1984. Your carton of Neapolitan was undoubtedly a luxury item at the time but now it looks almost Soviet in its lumpen crudeness. You are quite right: it lacks the chunks and whorls for which the modern market has created a demand.
Nowadays vanilla is always ‘Madagascan’ just as lemon is always ‘Sicilian’, lime is always ‘Mexican’ etc.
Do manufacturers really plunder remote and fragile Madagascar for its vanilla pods?
Where did they go before and why did they stop?
What has happened to that country’s vanilla trade since the switch?
I believe my old chum Fintan Whippy BSc is currently researching a paper that will answer these questions. Or it might be a wafer.
Is Neapolitan still available to buy or has it been supplanted by something more ‘exotic’ & ‘indulgent’ like Passionfruit Paroxysm? Even if it has survived I expect it is made up of Madagascan vanilla and Kaszubian strawberry. Una Stubbs only knows where the chocolate comes from nowadays.

  bobfischer wrote @

Neopolitan ice-cream was definitely seen as something dangerous and exotic when I first came across it in the mid-1970s. Ice Cream? WITH THREE COLOURS??!?! It was the natural full stop on the permissive society, the frozen dessert equivalent of ‘Oh Calcutta!’ and Kenneth Tynan using salty language on the telly.

I should point out at this stage that I NEVER ate ice cream from a bowl, either. Until the late 1980s, ice cream came, as you point out, in Soviet-style blocks (or should that be blocs?) and was eaten in solid rectangular chunks placed inbetween two flimsy Hinton’s wafers to create an ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’.

The key, on a hot day, was to the reach the end of this delightful dish before it melted and created a torrent of sticky pink, yellow and brown goo rushing down the sleeve of your Empire Strikes Back T-Shirt.

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