Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 167

Friday 15th June 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. First at school I went into the library, then I did Topic. At 11.00 we went out and played British bulldogs, then we came back in at 11.45 and at 12.00 I had dinner.

In the afternoon, me, Stan, Ozzie, Placie, Huggy, Ramsay and Harry played cricket till 3.00, when we came in for assembly. Came home at 3.15 and had tea, then I went out till 7.00, when I watched Winner takes all.

At 7.30 I watched Simon and Simon, then at 8.30 I watched Time of your life. Went to bed at 9.00.

I know it’s been pointed out before that I don’t seem to actually DO an awful lot during my days at school, but blimey… this takes the biscuit, doesn’t it? Probably an Orange Club biscuit, but with an outside chance of being a Wagon Wheel. Basically I spent the morning playing British Bulldogs and the afternoon playing cricket, with only an hour’s  break inbetween for a bit of much-needed recreation. Phew!

I can’t help but wonder if this was some sort of semi-official sports day? The fact that we played British Bulldogs at 11am suggests that – gasp! – it was an OFFICIALLY SANCTIONED game of British Bulldogs, presumably marshalled by Mr Hirst, with red Adidas tracksuit and whistle at the ready?

And with Mrs Mulhern’s topic group still being centred around fire, flames and flammable stuff, effectively I spent my school morning being educated in the noble arts of arson and grevious bodily harm. Result! Weeell, it was a tough world in 1984. We were all being prepared for the nuclear apocalypse, the miner’s strike and the second series of Duty Free.

I haven’t talked about ‘Placie’ very much on the blog so far, and I probably should. James Place was an integral member of our little group at Levendale Primary School, a slyly witty figure with a mop of sandy hair, grey-framed glasses and a huge, beaming smile. Here he is in July 1984, on our school day-trip to York (and more of that when the time comes, obviously…)


He was a really good mate of mine, and yet, after his family moved to (I think) Lincoln in the summer of 1985, I never saw or contacted him again. Kids are amazingly unsentimental, aren’t they? Obviously this was before the age of texting or e-mailing or Facebook, so once someone left your school (even if they didn’t move very far) then chances were that that was IT – they were effectively out of your life forever. Unless you were the kind of kid who was willing to sit down neatly in your best Sunday clothes and write Lovely Ickle Letters to your Long-Lost Fwiends… but pfffffffft, who wanted to do THAT when Winner Takes All was on the telly?

Placie, Stephen Mason, and even Doug – all really good mates from 1984, and in Doug’s case undoutedly one of the closest friends I’ve ever had – moved away within a year or two, and apart from a casual ‘See ya!’ that was generally your lot, and nobody seemed to mind. I didn’t have any contact at all with Doug from 1985 until 1996, when he suddenly (literally) walked back into my life… and I’m SO glad he did. But considering I’m such a sentimental old twat now, it’s amazing that I could be so casual about it all back in the day. We were all the same, I guess.

Oh go on then, let’s get it over with…

A cracking little ITV quiz, hosted – obviously – by Jimmy Tarbuck, with sterling voiceover work from the authoratative Geoffrey Wheeler. It seems to be almost completely forgotten now, but it probably got 15 million viewers at the time, and I still like to drop Wheeler’s laconic catchphrase ‘We have a difference of opinion here, Jimmy’ into casual conversation. Usually in the middle of a rabid argument with my girlfriend.

In 1987 Geoffrey Wheeler took over as host, and the show moved to an ITV daytime spot, which meant that I could watch it when I skipped home from Conyers School at dinnertime to eat my cheese sandwiches in front of the telly. And it looked like this…

It’s also been pointed out to me recently that, if you dial 4-9-9-1-9 on your telephone, the beeps make up a fair approximation of the Yorkshire TV ident that you can hear at the beginning of the first clip.
Right, back to arson and grevious bodily harm…



  Mark Hirst wrote @

I remember James Place quite well, he was a good lad, with a pleasant disposition.

The Kes clip is an all time classic and I modelled much of my games teaching on this! For that, I should be ashamed, but I’m not, in fact I’m quite proud!!

Off on another tangent. Jo Spayne, of the Carlton photos, was another good lad and a tidy footballer. It is a bit spooky that with all the recent references to Health and Safety, that his Dad (Stephen) is a Health and Hygiene Officer for Redcar and Cleveland Council and recently inspected my school’ kitchen. We had a bit of a chat about the Levendale days and how time flies by. It’s a good job he didn’t want to see my risk assessments for the High Force Trip!.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’m sure I remember, as a weedy 10-year-old, having a rare goalscoring opportunity presented to me on a plate, only for a red tracksuited leg to appear from nowhere and lash the ball into the back of the net with the force of a thousand cannons. The ball’s probably still stuck to the side of an orbiting communications satellite.

Jo was a really good footballer, I think… very ‘tricky’ in the classic Chris Waddle style. He was also a bloody amazing guitarist, one of the best and most inventive musicians I’ve ever heard anywhere. Really.

I had the pleasure of doing a fair bit of music with him in the late 1990s… we wrote quite a few songs and played live together at various shady local venues. I haven’t seen him for years now, but I keep meaning to drop him a line to see if he fancies a Take That-style reunion! If anyone knows where he is, point him in my direction…

  Mark Hirst wrote @

I’ll ask his Dad if he pops into school again!

  Chris Byers wrote @

I don’t know where Jo Spayne is these days. But I know his mother still works in what was the VG store next to Levendale also seen his brother Stephen working in there not so long ago.

Nice to see a clip of Kes another great British film with the wonderful Brian Glover. I can certainly see a bit of myself in Billy in that clip. If Mr Hirst has any memory of me at all I am shore it will be of my complete and utter lack of ability on a football field. I think its fair to say that the goal posts got more involved in the game than I ever did.

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