Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 182

Saturday 30th June 1984

Woke up at 8.30 and got up at 10.00. Doug came down and at 11.30 we went to the mud track and had a muck on. At 1.00 We came back and had dinner, then we built an assault course. At 2.30 we went and saw Arnold the cow, then at 4.45 We went and played football on Conyers.

At 5.10 Doug went home and I came back and watched Whiz kids. Had tea at 6.00 and at 6.10 I watched Pop quiz. Then I went out and played on the tarzie, and at about 8.00 dad came out and took some penaltys at me.

At 9.00 I came in and had a shower and at 9.15 I went to bed.

The Fischer family personal hygeine revolution starts HERE!!!

Can you spot the amazing, exciting and unprecedented new addition to our executive lifestyle? Yep… a SHOWER. The refurbishment of our (very 1970s looking) bathroom was one of our major household projects for the summer of 1984, and you’ll remember I spent a decent portion of the previous Sunday hacking at tiny strips of floral wallpaper with a bendy kitchen spatula.

gregorypeckThings were clearly moving on apace, and my Dad spent this whole, blazing, uncomfortably hot Saturday fiddling about converting our clanking bath taps into a modern shower unit, and constructing a sturdy rail and curtain to reduce the chances of his idiot 11-year-old son turning the bathroom into a scene from Moby Dick (although my Mum probably wouldn’t have minded Gregory Peck turning up in his captain’s uniform)  

Let’s make no bones about this… I was a mucky little oik. Looking back through my diary, having a bath tended to be very much a weekly affair for me – usually on a Sunday night, and all of my memories of watching ‘Thats Life’ also incorporate sitting in front of the coal fire with dripping wet hair, wearing powder blue pyjamas and stinking of Shield, ‘the soap deodorant’.

Apart from that, my daily ablutions tended to consist of a quick wash of my face and hands when I got up, and – if I could be bothered – before I went to bed. You’d think I must have REEKED, and yet I don’t recall this being especially outrageous behaviour amongst my peers. My Dad, who tended to be working on building sites every day, had a bath every weeknight at 7pm before returning downstairs in clean clothes for the evening’s TV, safe in the knowledge that he’d thankfully managed to miss Doctor Who and/or Terry and June.


But, for me, ‘bath night’ meant just that – a one-off, special arrangement. I guess I grew up in the 1970s, the age of power cuts, strikes and conserving energy, when some hapless government minister or other (who WAS it???) caused a national sensation by suggesting that the crisis could be alleviated if couples shared a bath together. For our generation, ‘putting on the immersion heater’ when not strictly necessary was a luxury comparable to pouring vintage champagne over your Sugar Puffs every morning. 

It’s amazing how much the personal grooming revolution has transformed the nation’s whiffiness since then. Perhaps Teesside was especially backward in this respect, but I never even HEARD of a man using underarm deodorant until at least the mid 1980s. My Dad certainly didn’t bother – in fact, I don’t suppose he’s ever used it in his life. A bath every few days (and the occasional splash of Blue Stratos if you were going out on the pull) seemed more than sufficient personal hygeine for most Teesside males.

Anyway, apart from brief, sub-Arctic rinsings at Thornaby Swimming Pool, this day almost certainly marked my first engagement with a ‘proper’ shower, and it had an almost instantaneous effect on my love life… yes, I was asked out on a date by a girl within a mere SEVEN YEARS of this revolutionary event taking place.

Other, weird, disparate memories from this particular day…

1. The assault course! Garden assault courses were a regular feature of my childhood, and the whole thing undoubtedly began in the summer of 1981, when – on a mind-numbingly hot day – Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank and myself constructed an insanely hilarious hotch-potch of planks, holes, paddling pools and piles of bricks to clamber over, under and around, timing our breathless circuits of the course with a digital watch as we laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. I daresay any passing 1980s Royal Marines wouldn’t have given it much of a second glance* but to us, this was the TOUGHEST OF THE TOUGH, and it’s good to see the tradition being maintained long into the ‘Mates with Doug’ years.

*with the possible exception of Prince Edward


2. There’s no easy way of putting this, but – at the mud track – we found half a rabbit. The rear half, with the business end (ears, whiskers, cute twitching nose etc) completely missing. It was just sitting there in the short grass next to our favourite climbing tree. I felt decidedly queasy when I saw this, and couldn’t get it out of my mind for the rest of the day. I distinctly remember struggling to get through one of my Mum’s giant shepherd’s pies while watching Whiz Kids, as images of said disembodied bunny kept flashing back into my consciousness. Urgh.

3. I HAD A SHOWER!!! Have I mentioned this already? I didn’t wash my hair, though. I’d done it on the 17th June, so it was good for another fortnight yet. It’s not as if I was Prince Edward or anything.

PS If my ‘one bath a week’ regime left me somehow smelling relatively savoury, how infrequent must Christopher Herbert’s ablutions have been for him to honk like a dead polecat in the middle of a major sewage outlet?



  Mark Hirst wrote @

From my recollections, there was outcry at Carlton, when I mentioned that we had showers every day! I would always adjust the water temperature to suit my mood and Slackie frequently suffered the arctic rinse cycle!

  Patsy wrote @

Did Shield really stink ? I have fond memories of the scent of it, and wonder whether it’s still available 🙂 I am really beginning to feel dead sorry about poor Christopher Herbert…

  Chris Byers wrote @

As we all had showered after our PE lesson at Conyers a few days earlier, this must have been your second shower in a week!

  bobfischer wrote @

I’d forgotten we had showers at Carlton! That would have been my first ‘proper’ shower, then. I bet I still didn’t do behind my ears, though.

I can’t remember having a shower on that day-trip to Conyers… did we really? If so, I’m amazed I didn’t put it in my diary! Maybe I slinked out without bothering (I got very adept at this trick when we went to Conyers full-time…)

I remember Shield being a bit ‘washing-up-liquidy’, but maybe I’m doing it a disservice! I’ll see if I can find some on my next shopping trip. Don’t feel sorry about the vile Herbert, though. I still wake up screaming sometimes with a vague whiff of his filthy Dukes of Hazzard T-shirt stuck at the back of a nostril…

  Chris Byers wrote @

We definitely had a shower. I suppose it’s quite possible that you and Christopher Herbert slipped out the back door while Stephen Mason was moaning that the water was cold.

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