Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 175

Saturday 23rd June 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and got up at 9.30. Rang Doug then went down there, and we went to the mud track. Someone had built a death slide so we had a load of goes on that, then at 1.00 I came home and had dinner.

At 1.30 Doug came and we mucked on in the copse for the afternoon. At 5.00 Doug went home and I had tea, and at 5.10 I watched Whiz kids. At 6.10 I watched Pop Quiz and then I went out all night till 9.00, when I came in, had a bath and went to bed.

A DEATH SLIDE!!! Fantastic, was there no end to the world’s quest to make our childhoods as dangerous as possible? Basically, somebody had strung a long, sturdy rope from the tree at the top of the bank down to, erm… the tree at the bottom of the bank, and slung another little length of rope across the top of the first length of rope for us to cling onto with our pale, increasingly calloused hands as we slid down towards OBLIVION…

I’ll use the opportunity to shamelessly flog the arse of this already over-exposed footage of the ‘mud track’… the rope ran from the tree I’m filming beside all the way down to the tree that’s in the centre of the screen exactly 14 seconds in…

We had no idea who’d done this, but by 10am there was already a steady queue of grotty oiks snaking around the swings ready, to take their chances. The key to success was – of course – to make sure you jumped off just before the end, otherwise you’d end up slamming at high velocity straight into the vicious-looking trunk of the lower tree, a fact that seemed to inexplicably evade a sizeable number of the idiots prepared to give it a bash on this silly, sunny morning.

As such, the quiet, Saturday morning ambience of Yarm was frequently rent asunder by a lengthy, high-decibel cry that went something like:


Anyway, I knew it was called a ‘death slide’ because I’d seen Simon Groom have a go on one on Blue Peter, plummeting from the top of Tower Bridge while various assembled Royal Marines giggled into their moustaches. I seem to recall he made a similar sound to the one transcribed above, much to Biddy Baxter’s disapproval.


Anyway, a couple of strange, disconnected memories from this very morning…

1. Doug met a GIRL the previous night!!! Much to my disgust, no doubt. What was he thinking of??!? What did she have that I didn’t?!?! I don’t think there was much in the way of hearts and flowers involved, but the previous evening he’d arranged to meet Wendy Brunskill at the ‘green’ on the Levendale Estate, a deal brokered (I think) as we traipsed back into school the previous afternoon after having our school photo taken. You can tell just by looking at the picture that Doug was up to something.


Remarkably, he was amazingly coy about the whole thing, and I think they’d just chatted and (steady on) held hands a couple of times. Altogether now… awwwwww! He told me all this as we flicked slugs in the long grass waiting for our turn on the Death Slide. And then we shook our heads, snapped out of it and starting talking in excessively deep voices about BUTCH, MANLY THINGS. Like football, bikes and, erm, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.


2. I was still convinced, rather bizarrely, that I had psychic powers. Long-term readers of this nonsense will remember me developing this theory a couple of months earlier during a cricket knock-up with my Dad, and I think a few weeks of watching ‘Manimal’ on BBC1 had reawakened my interest in the paranormal. As such, I tried to USE MY MIND to influence the slow-moving Death Slide queue to disperse, and claimed success when the pasty-looking skinhead two places in front of us said spat on the floor, said ‘F*** this’ and clambered onto a Diamond Back BMX to seek his thrills elsewhere.

Shamelessly seduced by the Dark Side of the Force, I naturally decided to use my new-found powers for EVIL, and spent the forthcoming school week attempting to influence Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald to do my long division for me. More on this as we get it…

(Yegods, I was MENTAL as an 11-year-old, wasn’t it? Mother, why didn’t you stop me watching so much telly? It clearly wasn’t good for me…)

Anyway, another lovely afternoon spent hiding in the ‘copse’ that was fast becoming our favourite secret refuge, and for those that missed it, I describe the place in a scary degree of detail in this diary entry. No doubt we passed the afternoon trying to kill each other on our home-made tarzies and snapping bits off perfectly happy trees. I will, I promise, make a film in this strange little enclave very shortly. Unfortunately, though, my camera has given up the ghost completely, so I’m waiting for my new one to be delivered!

In the meantime, I found this little gem in the loft at the weekend… undoubtedly dating from June 1984, this is an hilarious attempt of mine to transcribe the lyrics to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s current single ‘Two Tribes’ by stop-start-stopping the fuzzy version that I’d tape-recorded from Simon Bates’ Radio 1 chart countdown the previous Sunday. Given the primitive nature of my equipment (stop giggling), all of my home-recorded songs sounded a little bit like they’d been taped at the bottom of the deep end at Durham Lane baths, which probably explains my hilariously innacurate interpretation…


On the other side of the page, I’ve had a go at Billy Joel’s ‘Tell Her About It’, but – amazingly – it’s too accurate to be funny. Bah!


  Major Gregg Spastie wrote @

Now look here, m’boy. I hope that when you say: “He told me all this as we flicked slugs in the long grass” you are clinging to Planet Literal like a barnacle clings to a jetty.

Let me put it on the table for you: I want my men to bone up on other people’s death slide experiences but I can’t have them reading any smut or suggestiveness. They need to be pure of mind and healthy when their turn comes to go down.

  bobfischer wrote @

Rest assured Major Spastie, our mutual slug-flicking was entirely innocent and pure of intention.

Now return to your military engagements, and don’t come back until you’ve stood to attention and drilled your men to within an inch of their lives.

At ease!

  JO oxley wrote @

Why did we spend hours taping stuff off the radio and then spend even longer writing down all the lyrics. I remember spending hours rewinding and playing tapes doing that. Also managed to transcribe most monty python sketches too, we were weird children!

  bobfischer wrote @

I’ve got some Python show on audio tape as well! Recorded in our pre-video days by pushing the tape recorder up against the telly speaker. Madness.

Recording the charts in the same way became a bit of a Sunday ritual for me, although naturally you’d want to keep pressing ‘pause’ all the time in case you inadvertantly got a bit of Simon Bates stuck on the end of your favourite song.

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