Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 151

Wednesday 30th May 1984

Woke up at 9.15 and got up at 10.00. At 10.30 mam and I went to Yarm and saw Clarkie and his mam. I got a Mad, then mam came home on the bus and I rode back. After a game of pacientce I rang Doug up and then came down to his house.

We had a muck on in the school and then Huggy rang so we went down and played on the bikes. Soon after I came home, got the Strika and came back to Huggy’s on that. Harrison came and we had a mudfight, then we went in the garden and played Scramble. We all went in for a corner, then ran for a ball and tried to get back.

At 5.00 I came home and had tea, then we went to Weary Valley and saw an eclipse of the sun. It was geed! When we came home I watched the European cup – Liverpool v Roma. Liverpool won on penalties! Good match, but also a nice joke by Jimmy Greaves at extra time!

Oh, the anticipation! There was an ECLIPSE OF THE SUN due on the evening of this day, and didn’t we all know about it. Of course, what we fully expected to see filling the skies over Yarm was this…


…and our day was filled with a sense of mounting excitement as we prepared to watch this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I even remember talking about it to Paul ‘Clarkie’ Clarke and his mother in Yarm High Street as I went in search of the latest Mad Magazine…


Oddly enough, they didn’t seem QUITE as excited about it all, but then it’s possible that – unlike me – when they’d read the phrase ‘eclipse of the sun’ in the newspapers, they’d also noticed the crunch word ‘partial’ preceding it.

Anyway, I hurt myself on this day! And, amazingly, it wasn’t by jumping up and down and staring at the sun, blinking. Doug, Paul ‘Huggy’ Huggins and I set up an astonishingly complex system of BMX ramps in the cul-de-sac outside Huggy’s house, a towering network of bricks, planks and breezeblocks perfect for high-octane bike-related arsing around. Sadly, my Chopper (chortle) wasn’t the most nimble of vehicles, and more often than it ended up flopping (snigger) disappointingly off the end of the ramps, failing miserably to achieve the same kind of air-speed velocity as Doug and Huggy’s spanking new BMXs.


‘Shame you didn’t bring your Strika,’ said Huggy. ‘They fly like the clappers if you get enough speed up…’

By the time he’d finished the sentence I was halfway home to get it. I slipped my Chopper into the garage (titter), jumped onto my cobweb-strewn Raleigh Strika, and pelted back to Huggy’s, not even stopping to say hello on my return. I took a 100-yard-pedal up to the highest ramp, a blur of stonewashed denim and Dunlop trainers, mounted the ramp at a speed that would turned Alain Prost pale (well, paler), and hurtled along the length of the creaking plank before the Strika flew off the end, sailing gracefully through the summer skies like a slightly rust-infested seagull.

Unluckily for me, however, I didn’t go with it. As the bike took to the air, I slipped completely off the back of the undersized saddle and ended up clinging to the rear mudguard before crashing with a sickening thud to the pavement and scraping my elbows and knees across the surface of the road as the Strika dragged me helplessly along before crashing into a heap against Huggy’s brick-built garden wall.


Up ahead, a vulture circled, ready to pick dry the four long streaks of pale, 11-year-old skin now adding a touch of colour to the melting tarmac by the roadside. Thankfully, I was still in good enough shape to chuck lumps of dried-up soil at Robert ‘Harrison’ Harrison and indulge in an insane round of ‘Scramble’, clearly some mental, health-threatening ball game of our own deranged invention.  

Two strange, disconnected memories from this day:

1. Singing ‘You take the grey skies out of my way, you make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day’ repeatedly on the way home, because they were the only words I knew from Wham’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’. Apart from, erm, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’. I think after the 432nd rendition in the space of half a mile, Doug was more than ready to Jitterbug me into the foul-smelling beck by the cricket club and leave me there to ‘hit that high’ by myself.


2. Having, quite laudably, a sensible conversation with Doug about racism, and agreeing beyond much reasonable doubt that it was a BAD THING. I can’t remember any more of the details than this, but it was probably one of the first times I’d ever talked about anything even remotely resembling politics. I’m not sure what prompted this momentary lapse in the usually ceaseless procession of farts, filth and knob jokes that passed for normal conversation in our world, and I’m sure we more than made up for it later on.   

And so to the eclipse… I remember being a TINY bit disappointed when my Dad took me out into the side garden and what I actually saw out of the corner of my blinking eye was the normal, blazing sun with – just about visible – a tiny section of it missing. But hey… we got a free trip to Weary Valley out of it, so life was ‘geed’ after all. For the record, a partial eclipse of the sun looks like this, but not nearly quite as dramatic…


And the European Cup Final! Normally I wouldn’t have been remotely interested in football at this stage in my life, but the prospect of Liverpool playing some funny foreign lot (my socially-conscious musings about racism were now six hours old, and therefore virtually ancient history, besides which it’s clearly ALWAYS alright to laugh about the Italians) clearly piqued my interest. For those that care about these things, this was the match in which Bruce Grobelaar, during the one of the most high-tension penalty shoot-outs of all time, did his now infamous ‘wobbly legs’ routine… (at about 7mins 40 in the below clip – have a look, it’s one of the coolest things ever!)

‘He’s bloody barking mad, him,’ laughed my Dad, as we jumped around the room and cheered. And the ‘nice joke by Jimmy Greaves’ still tickles me to this day. At the end of the normal 90 minutes, the camera stayed trained on the pitch, while ITV’s studio pundits had their heads placed into little circles, superimposed over the top of the action as they pontificated.

‘Great that we’re getting a bit of extra time,’ mused Greavsie, ‘even if it does mean my head gets stuck inside this funny little bubble’.

I can’t remember who was in any of the other bubbles, but no doubt one of them will have been Ian St John, throwing his head back and roaring with laughter. Quite right, too.


  Fiona Tims wrote @

I can’t believe you made me sit through footie footage to see “wobbly legs”

I didn’t think it was that great ;p

  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

It is a scientific fact that only a man can truly appreciate Bruce Grobbelaar’s legs.

  bobfischer wrote @

Come on Fiona, it was a penalty shoot-out at the end of the European Cup Final! Without a doubt the most tense, nerve-racking and downright important moment of Bruce Grobbelaar’s career, being watched on TV by hundreds of millions, and what does he do?

Arse about pulling stupid faces and making comedy wobbly legs! Genius. The Chuckle Brothers saw that clip and built a whole career on it.

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