Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 180

Thursday 28th June 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. At school we did maths, then I went in the library till dinner at 12.00. In the afternoon it was Topic groups, then me, Frankie, Tucker and Doug did topic.

At 3.15 I came home and went to Doug’s and we went on Levendale. Had a ride around, then I came home at 5.30 and had tea. Then Dad, Poggy and I went to the gate and at 7.30 we went to visit Grandma. Came home at 8.15 and I played out for a bit, then Dad took some penaltys at me.

Went to bed at 9.00.

I think – amazingly – this might be a 1984 day on which I watched virtually NO TELEVISION ALL!!!

There was probably a bit of TVAM chuntering away in the morning as I got ready, and then we’ll have eaten our fishcakes and mashed potato accompanied by the BBC Evening News and Look North (with the legendary Mike Neville), but in terms of me actually sitting down and deliberately watching something that interested me… blimey! I didn’t!

It’s been pointed out by several people over the last few months that I seemed to spend a staggering amount of my childhood watching TV – either the genre sci-fi and fantasy stuff (Doctor Who, Robin of Sherwood, even – yikes – Manimal) that was turning into a lifelong passion, hit sitcoms (Only Fools and Horses, The Young Ones, etc) that made me laugh uproariously as I sprawled across the front room armchair (‘Can’t you just sit in the bloody thing properly?’ my Dad used to regularly ask) and odd little bits of contemporary ephemera… That’s Life, Blankety Blank, 3-2-1 and all the other shows that, when I see them back now, give a far more evocative impression of 1984 than almost anything else from the era.

Looking back, I wonder if we Eighties kids were the peak generation for watching (and being influenced by) TV. It seems ironic that, since the explosion of multi-channel TV, its grip on the younger generation’s imagination seems to have considerably lessened.  And yet, back in 1984, those four simple channels – often broadcasting nothing more than a test card for most of the night and even some of the afternoons – seemed, in part, to make us the people that we are.

I don’t get that so much from kids today. I guess young people will always gravitate towards the buzziest, flashiest technology of the day. Back in 1984, that was TV, and there wasn’t much in the way of competition… home computers were little more than basic (and often very unreliable) games machines, and the phone was something that stayed on a little table in the corner of the hallway and allowed your Mum to yabber away about fishcakes and Mike Neville to elderly relatives a couple of times a week.

phone

Nowadays, poor old TV is a bit of a poor relation to everything else that kids love, and I still (genuinely) can’t decided whether that’s a good thing or not.

Anyway, another relatively quiet day… clearly my Gran was still recovering from her hip operation in Middlesbrough General Hospital, and I took advantage of the light nights to further perfect my ‘Bruce Grobbelaar’ routines in the front garden with my Dad.

I’ll take advantage of a quiet-ish day, then, by showing off this nonsense… I’ve mentioned a few times in the Blog that, in my last few years at Levendale Primary School, I was an enthusiastic cartoonist, and – on long, rainy afternoons – myself, Mark ‘Fozzie’ Foster, Andrew ‘Sug’ Sugden (below) and a handful of equally grotty Whizzer and Chips obsessives would hole up in a quiet corner of the school and produce our strange, slightly surreal comic ‘Frosty’. 

Thursday Sug

Huge thanks and belated applause goes to all of our teachers at Levendale Primary School, who – brilliantly – positively encouraged these little outbursts of creativity, and were happy for us to push the latest maths textbook to one side if it meant that the latest of ‘Frosty’ was pinned to the middle room wall for the rest of our year to peruse.

We tried to get out at least three issues a year – Easter, Summer and a bumper Christmas edition, and I suppose it gave us all a little brush with celebrity. I’d long since assumed that they’d all been chucked into the school bins as soon as they were considered past their sell-by date, but – to my utter delight – I managed to find an entire edition in the loft last week!

smallfrosty1

Click on THIS LINK to see a bigger version! I think this is the Easter 1983 edition, and it’s all complete – it’s been stapled together to resemble a proper comic, but you can see pin-prick holes where, in a previous life, it was stapled to the classroom wall in a long, continuous line of A4 paper… like the Bayeaux Tapestry, but filled with Loonymen and cartoon dogs and Doctor Who.

This is undoubtedly one of my cartoons, and I remember Sug laughing like a drain at Targ the Loonymen with his dark glasses and goofy teeth…

smallfrosty2

(Again, CLICK HERE for a larger version)

And then, predictably…

smallfrosty3

(CLICK HERE for the bigger version – and yes, it’s the presence of the Black Guardian that makes me suspect this is from Spring 1983!)

In Summer 1983, Fozzie – who was a year older than us – was swept into the terrifying educational wildnerness of Conyers comprehensive, and I don’t think we really made any more comics after this. He was, in every possibly respect, the Spiritual Leader of the Loonymen. Our Kim Jong-Il. Making these strange, half-crazed efforts was a huge part of my childhood though, and I’m so thrilled that at least one of them has survived.

If I can find any others, then I’ll scan a few pages again.. I’d be particularly delighted if the classic 1981 Christmas Special turns up, as I remember us working against a staggeringly tight deadline to get this finished, and then gleefully stapling it to the classroom wall ourselves (occasionally pinging a rogue staple at a passing Christopher Herbert) while attempting to simultaneously sing ‘T’was the Night Before Christmas’ (Mr Millward’s famous ‘chanted’ version, to be performed en masse at the school’s festive production) and The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’.

Happy days. 

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6 Comments»

  Chris Orton wrote @

Making comics was a fantastic pastime back then, and I put it all down to the sheer array of felt-tip pens that were available. I had a huge Walls Ice Cream tub full of felt tip pens of all kinds. I don’t know what it is but I’ve always had a weird attraction to stationary!

I bought loads and loads of comics (The Beano was delivered every week, although I tended to prefer the likes of Whizzer and Chips and later Oink!) and had pretensions of becoming a cartoonist, although to be honest I was never really that good. My mate Baz was a load better than me and even had one of his drawing published in one of the military comics – Victor perhaps. We used to swap our home-made comics all of the time, and looked forward(!) to getting a new pack of those jumbo felt tips at Christmas. My brother also took up the comic making habit not long after too and I think that he inherited my old Walls Ice Cream tub-full of pens.

  Thing wrote @

Peter Davison appears to be wearing a small black medallion in that picture. What was that? And is it meant to be water behind him?

  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

And who are ‘G’, ‘H’ and ‘M’ on the poster?
If compelled I’d present the following hypotheses:
G) Peter Barkworth as Leader Clent from ‘The Ice Warriors’
H) The boat-worrying plesiosaur from ‘Carnival Of Monsters’
M) Dr. Who’s assistant Jo Grant with a bow.

  bobfischer wrote @

There was a high turnover of felt tip pens in my house, I always seemed to keep losing them! In fact (snigger) you could say (chortle) that they never stayed stationary for very long. Guffaw.

But yeah, I loved doing comics. I’m sure there are more in the loft somewhere – watch this space! (Or, more accurately, a completely different space)

Thing – it’s actually the TARDIS key on a chain round Davison’s neck. Does he do this in any of his stories? I can’t believe I was inventive enough to create this scenario myself without having shamelessly ripped if off from somewhere!

And yes, I think it’s meant to be water behind him, although I’ve no idea why. Read the previous day’s diary entry – we’re not dealing with the workings of a sound, rational mind here. 🙂

Dr Parcel, I reckon…

G) Romana II. I’m sure Lalla Ward wouldn’t be offended by the Peter Barkworth comparisons, though.

H) The snake from the end of ‘Kinda’. Although mine looks a bit more convincing than the TV version.

M) The White Guardian. I didn’t get where I am today without recognising a man wearing a stuffed seagull on his head.

  Thing wrote @

Cheers. Does Davison wear the key round his neck in any of his stories? I don’t think he does, although possibly Pertwee and definitely Tom Baker in his early stories did. Odd thing is that back then the key was designed to look like a mystical Ankh symbol, so I’m not sure if you would have been picking up on that or not.

I believe the temporary redesign of the key in the early 70s was because Jon Pertwee suggested one as a means of marketing TARDIS key toys. Think it went back to being an ordinary key later in Tom’s era.

All this comes from an ancient Matrix Data Bank which I read over twenty years ago, but I think I’ve remembered it right.

  bobfischer wrote @

I can’t remember him wearing it at all in the show, although I was a voracious reader of the comic strips, so it’s likely I’ve nicked it from one of them. I just can’t believe I’ve made it up myself – I was NEVER that original!


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