Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 174

Friday 22nd June 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. First at school it was maths groups, so I did maths till 10.30, when we had our photo taken. Then we went out and played cricket, and when we came in I did some more of my Indiana Jones story.

Had dinner at 12.00, then did topic at 3.15, when I came home. I went to Doug’s, and we went to the mud track and met Placie, Stan, Horsey and Tucker. We went along the river, then back home. I had tea, and at 5.15 I watched Different Strokes.

Went out at 5.45 till 6.45, when me, Dad, Poggy Doggy and Poggy II went on the field. Came back at 7.30 and watched Simon & Simon, and at 8.30 I watched Time of your life. Went to bed at 9.00.

School photo day! The only time in my seven years at Levendale Primary School that the entire school year (plus selected teachers) was shepherded outside and made to pose for a happy, jolly group picture. On a warm but decidedly grey day (rather like today, actually) we assembled at the edge of the school field, with a couple of blue foam mats from the PE cupboard on the ground (must have been raining overnight) and the usual cheeky school photographer chortling and calling us an ‘orrible lot’.


He always reminded me a bit of Jack from On The Buses – unlike our ACTUAL school bus driver, who was more like Mr MacKay from Porridge. Clearly something of a mix-up in the school’s strictly out-of-bounds Sitcom Character cupboard (kept in a corner of the Amazingly Hairy Mr Chalkley’s office, next to the stocks and thumbscrews)

And, exactly 25 years on, here’s the resulting picture…


Obviously it might be worth you clicking on this link here to find a bigger version! Lots of the ‘orrible lot’ mentioned in my diary are featured, mainly – if I’m honest – in the back row.  Here you go, your bluffers guide to the 1984 Class Picture…


On the far left, in the burgundy ensemble, is the utterly lovely piano wizard Mrs Gwen ‘Cross over the road, my friend’ Mulhern, and next to her – a vision in lilac – is my long-suffering form teacher Mrs Keasey, looking suitably relieved that my stint at Levendale was coming to a close, and she’d no longer have to spend her evenings marking 32-page sci-fi epics written in Berol Notewriter pen and illustrated with felt-tip drawings of robots and spaceships that invariably made the writing on the other side of the page even more difficult to decipher.


On the right-hand side we’ve got the mighty Mr Millward, of course, being unceremoniously shoved out of the way by Mrs Baldwin, about whom rumours that she’d ‘given up a million-pound modellin’ career to be a teacher, swear down, it’s true’ were rife amongst a few hot-collared male members of the Fourth Year Juniors.


The back row is a fine array of ‘The Usual Suspects’ from my 1984 Diary. From the left… Phil ‘Slackie’ Slack, Simon ‘Mally’ Malyon (who I didn’t know very well, hence his absence from my diary!), Andrew ‘Sug’ Sugden, Tim ‘Scottie’ Scott, Doug, Paul ‘Huggy’ Huggins, Paul ‘Wacky’ Whitehead, Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones, James ‘Placie’ Place, Jo ‘Spaynie’ Spayne and Graham ‘Ramsey’ Ramsey.  Fabulous to see such a fine array of 1980s haircuts on display, particularly amongst the boys that had patriotically grown their own bearskin hats for the recent Trooping Of The Colour.


In the middle row, on the far left is Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald (no doubt with The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain’ still in his back pocket) and on the far right is Paul ‘Clarkie’ Clarke, looking relieved at finally having gained a photo on this website that doesn’t feature him sitting on a park bench in Whitby in 1983.

Oh go on then, for old time’s sake…


In the middle, well… girls, frankly. I hardly wrote anything about girls in 1984, because I didn’t speak to them and didn’t understand them. And a succession of girlfriends (including the current, long-suffering one) will no doubt testify that precious little has changed in the intervening 25 years. But hello to Joanne Oxley (long blonde hair, standing up in the blue top) who I know reads this, and has fond memories of organising a special ‘Duran Duran’ table at Levendale, from which occasional volleys of rubbers and Shatterproof rulers would occasionally be launched at passing Spandau Ballet fans. 

Wendy Brunskill, the most frequent willing victim of Doug and I’s barbed wit (and yegods, she gave as good as she got) is third from the right in the standy-uppy-row, sporting the Princess Diana hairdo and the pale green ensemble. And Janet Haigh, who I think looks in here from time to time, is sitting down in the row in front, second from the left, wearing pink. Hello!

I’m kneeling in the middle of the front row, looking cheeky in my pale grey zip-up jacket and that OMINPRESENT BLOODY BLACK SHIRT that my Dad frequently complained made look ‘like Oswald bloody Moseley’ (a reference that went a bit over my 11-year-old head)

In the same row are (left to right) Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank, Andrew ‘Roy’ Harding, Andrew ‘Stan’ Henry and Karl Tweddall, who I always seem to think was in the year below us, but clearly wasn’t… unless he’d just sneaked into the picture without anyone noticing.

NOTICEABLE ABSENTEES (who clearly sneaked OUT without anyone noticing)

1. MR HIRST!!! Where was he? We played cricket straight afterwards, so undoubtedly he was around on this day. I can only assume there was some IMPORTANT BUSINESS to attend to in the staff room (and not the second day of the second test match between England and the West Indies, oh no, absolutely not, hell no, nope, no way) and he VERY RELUCTANTLY had to excuse himself from proceedings. He was probably busy planning our Third Year Junior’s annual high wire walk across the highest part of the Grand Canyon.


2. Stephen ‘Mason’ Mason! No doubt at home, drinking Lucozade in front of ‘Pebble Mill at One’ and moaning softly that ‘I’m starting to feel a little bit better now’ while pushing himself up against the radiator to make sure his temperature was at the required level. Ditto regular blog contributor Chris Byers! Where were you Chris? Come on, did you skive it? The time is right for a confession!  

3. Christopher Herbert. Even in 1984, rudimentary Health and Safety requirements prevented the odious Herbert from being placed in such close proximity to members of the public. I think he spent the day locked in his ‘special room’ while Mrs Powell pushed Cheesy Wotsits through the grille in the reinforced door. 


A great picture anyway, and one that instantly melts away the intervening 25 years. If I had the time, energy and organisational skills, I’d love to organise a reunion version of it! And if anyone’s on there and would like to say hello, please do… it’d be lovely.


  Jo Oxley wrote @

Woo hoo, I’m famous, got a mention in a blog – thanks Bob. I have good memories of all the clothes I used to wear at Levendale, not having a school uniform was great, but I’m not sure where the hell that blue thing came from! It certainly didn’t come from my highly stylish wardrobe. It must have been something my mum put me in to try and make me look half decent for the photo! I expect I’ve got some lovely sandals on too! Out of school it was Geordie Jeans all the time. Look at all those jolly faces, what memories. Perhaps it was only me but I was in Mrs Baldwin’s tutor group and I thought she was evil – dribs and drabs was her favourite saying! She looks so nice – it’s so weird seeing things from an adult perspective now, no wonder my parents wondered what I was going on about.

  janet haigh wrote @


Ah the Duran Duran table! Happy memories indeed. I’ve been listening to Rio in my car just this week. Did we do Planet Earth in 4th year dancing?

Oh and you are quite right about Mrs Baldwin’s ‘dribs and drabs’. She was an odd woman…

  bobfischer wrote @

‘Dribs and drabs’ is one of my stock phrases these days… along with ‘bits and bobs’ and ‘odds and sods’. I’m starting to wonder where I got them from now…

Thanks for posting the pair of you, anyway! It’s strange the way you see teachers when you’re a kid… I think I was about eight before I realised that… wow! Our teachers actually have, like, lives and families and houses OUTSIDE school! Because school was the only situation I saw them in, it just never occured to me that they had any kind of existance outside of it. (Although I still think Mr Douglas slept upside down in the PE cupboard of an evening)

And why didn’t I get to do Fourth Year Dancing??!?!?

  Jo Oxley wrote @

We did Planet Earth and Lovecats by the Cure!

  Mark Hirst wrote @

Great pic and brings back some memories!
I remember all but a couple of faces! Slackie looks like he is preparing a well timed fart, or he has just done so and Jo Spayne and Graham Ramsey have just got wind of it. And Geoff’s (Mr M) famous glasses have reacted! No idea where I was, if it was after lunch I was probably down Durham Lane rolling Herbert through the foot bath! alternatively I was getting my whites, pads and Sussex County cap on ready for a display of batting excellence!

At this time I had no life outside school, as I’d just got married and I was adjusting to a different life, over which I soon realised, I had no control! In fact I no longer had a life!!

  Chris Byers wrote @

I honestly cant remember where I was that day. I do have a vague recollection of being off and Tim Scott asking me on my return where I had been as I had missed the school photo. All I can think is I must have caught the skiveritis you had a few weeks earlier. Nice to see the photograph though with so many old faces.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Boo hiss-we had to wear uniforms (and ties) at my junior school-snot fair *sulk*

I think it’s hilarious the way boys have nicknames for each other. I met a guy in the pub who turns out knows one of my bro’s from school and I said I’d say hi for him. His name was ‘Lobby.’ I looked at him weirdly asking if that was the name he wanted me to tell my Bro.
Of course, my Bro knew who I was talking about straight away (and this is 25 years since they’ve seen each other!)

  bobfischer wrote @

Mr H, you’ve reawakened long-buried memories… DID you actually wear a Sussex county cap during our extended cricket matches? Now you’ve said it, it all comes racing back towards me (rather like a Paul Huggins haymaker to the boundary)

Chris – I don’t think we had much warning about the photo, so you might be right. In fact, I think it was a case of ‘Right, everybody outside for your school photo NOW!’, and whoever wasn’t around just got left out.

Do girls not do nicknames then? The great thing about all of the boys’ nicknames is that there’s not a whiff of invention about any of them… it’s just the surnames with an extra ‘Y’ stuck in there somewhere! Although I suppose Ian ‘Pond’s Eye’ Macdonald would probably beg to differ…

Don’t tell me, was Lobby’s real name Dave Lobworth or something similar?

  Mark Hirst wrote @

Course I did. In my youth I had played for Sussex schools and consequently was awarded my cap! Finding my true level, playing against primary children, I scored many a fine boundary and wore my cap with pride. (Bit damaging to the quiff mind)

Ashamed to say that I’m still hogging the strike in our Kwik Cricket matches even now and recently retired at 50, following a devastating innings against my Y4’s (eight and nine year olds). Marvellous!

  Chris Byers wrote @

Having just looked closely at the photograph I can’t help but notice that look on your face Bob. It definitely has the look of somebody who has just booby trapped the camera with the knowledge that Philip Slack will get the blame. Could it have been you Bob that was responsible for most of the mischief caused at Levendale and that Philip Slack was innocent?

One sad point though is that two of our class mates are no longer with us Doug Simpson and Paul Whitehead. I just hope everybody else is fit and well.

  Tom S wrote @

Weird, I always incorrectly remember Simon Malyon as being my age, had forgotten he was a year ahead – I was quite good friends with him for a year or two, before he went to “posh” school instead of Conyers – and clearly his old friends weren’t good enough anymore ;). Lived in what I always imagined, at the time, was the Millionaire’s enclave on the Levendale estate. Not just down the very expensive Valley Drive (great hill to bike down, not so great riding back up), but in one of the little closes OFF Valley drive. His Dad was MD of RAC concrete, so Millionaire status probably wasn’t far wrong!

I remember he had a Spectrum with a voice synthesizer. It was the most amazing bit of technology I had ever seen – a computer which could talk!

I thought Mr Macdonald was “Ponzie” – not that this is any more explicable than Pond’s Eye! He managed to shed the nickname once he went up to big school and just became Macky…although we had a clash with Paul Mack, which caused no end of confusion…especially when they became best mates.

  bobfischer wrote @

Retired from the crease, Mr H? What piffle! Get back out there and show the youth of today how it’s done!!!

Chris – innocent of all charges, sir. You’ll notice though that I was one of the few lads in the picture who opened his eyes, cracked a smile, and looked straight into the camera. I was born for a life in the media spotlight! Mwah! 😉

And yes, it’s very sad news about Paul and Doug. Heartbreaking actually… looking at that picture now, I’m sure we all thought we’d live for ever. It’s absolutely tragic that they should both have died so young.

  bobfischer wrote @

Tom, I had no idea Simon Malyon was from such wealthy stock! Fantastic. I wish I’d made more of an effort to be friends with him now. 😉

I’ve definitely written Ian Mac’s nickname down as ‘Pond’s Eye’ in my diary, but it’s entirely possible that I just misheard it back in 1984. I did ask him recently if he knew where it had come from and what it meant, and he has no idea! It only lasted a few months, apparently. It’s bloody great, though. I never want to know the origins, I prefer the enigma!

  JO oxley wrote @

My nicknames were mojo and oxo but they were probably given to me by the boys, can’t remember any other nicknames for girls other than calling justine Hayes waterworks coz she was always in tears!

  bobfischer wrote @

Jo Spayne got called ‘Mojo’ as well from time to time. Don’t know if that makes you feel better or worse about it. 😉

  JO oxley wrote @

I seem to remember that me and Jo share the same birthday too! Unless he just made that up!

  bobfischer wrote @

Oooh, Jo’s birthday was really early in the school year – sometime in September. The 16th, possibly? Go on, tell me you were born in February…

  JO oxley wrote @

22nd oct!

  bobfischer wrote @

Ha! I’m sure Jo’s birthday was in September, but I could be wrong. I have to rack my brains these days to remember when my own birthday is! (And I have to really think about it if anyone asks how old I am… I know I was born in 1972, so I have to work it out from there… I never know the answer off the top of my head)

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Bit late for this reply-but I asked my Brother last night, why Lobby had the nickname and he said it was because his surname was Lob!

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