Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 185

Tuesday 3rd July 1984

Woke up at 8.00 and got up straight away. Got the bus at 8.30. At school we read, then it was the fourth year language test. At 10.05 We went out, and when we came in Doug and I did some more of the Topic poster.

Had dinner at 12.00, then in the afternoon Doug and I did some more of the poster. At 3.15 I came home and played out till 5.00, when I had tea. Then I went out again till 6.40, when I watched Star Trek.

At 7.30 I watched Little and Large, and at 8.00 I went out again, till 9.00 when I had a shower and went to bed.

In the words of Graham Taylor, ‘This is a test… a REAL test’.

Although, actually, it wasn’t. Bear in mind this was long before the age of SATS and the National Curriculum, so our ‘fourth year language test’ had a bit of a homespun, low-pressure feel to it. I think it was mainly to reassure our teachers that the seven years they’d spent avoiding flying Shatterproof rulers and wading through Monster Munch-fuelled farts hadn’t been entirely in vain, and that we HAD picked up some rudimentary literary skills along the way.


Still, you had to do these things properly… so the entire fourth year (all 40 of us) were herded into the school hall, made to sit at individual tables, and presented with a teeny tiny exam paper to pore over for the best part of an hour (we had to be out by 10.30 so the dinner ladies could start roadtesting the Spam Fritters). We’d do this in COMPLETE SILENCE (Stephen Mason!!! SSSHHH!!!!) while Mr Millward paced impassively up and down the aisles, like Clint Eastwood in Reactolite spectacles.

Being a bit of a bookish geek to begin with, I always quite enjoyed them. There were a few rudimentary spelling tests, and then something called ‘comprehension’, in which we’d be presented with a paragraph like this…

“Christopher Herbert woke up, wiped the slime from his scummy Stockton market watch, and checked the time. It was 9.30am, and he was late for school. He crunched across the fungus on the bedroom floor, got the dog to lick his face clean, and pulled on the jumper that smelt of cat’s knackers and fig biscuits. Within five minutes he was at the school gates, and Mr Hirst was waiting for him with a cricket bat…’

We’d then have to answer questions along the lines of:

1. What time was it when Christopher woke up?
2. Where had Christopher bought his watch from?
3. What did Christopher’s jumper smell of?

And so on, and so on. We always had to do a bit of creative writing as well, usually along the lines of ‘Write a short story that uses an aubergine, a miner’s helmet and a Koala Bear as part of its plot’.

The nature of the three random objects I was presented with was immaterial. I’d always get it round to Doctor Who eventually.


It does seem a bit strange that we were sitting a little exam only three weeks before leaving the school forever, so I’m wondering if the results were passed onto Conyers School for them to assess us for any potential psycopathic tendencies (and if you had any, you were immediately promoted to house rugby captain)

Good to see a bit of Star Trek on the telly! The original series, of course, or ‘TOS’ as it’s known to the fans (guffaw), which seemed to be repeated on BBC2 at 6.40pm on weeknights throughout most of the late 1970s and early 1980s. I watched it with my Dad a lot, who I suspect likes a bit of vintage science-fiction far more than he ever lets on. I’ve certainly got him to thank for my utter, undyling love of The Twilight Zone, which we first watched together on Channel 4 one (very) late Friday night in 1987 after catching the opening titles to the episode ‘Black Leather Jackets’ while flicking through the channels.

(Ha ha ha! ‘Flicking through the channels’. There were FOUR channels for crying out loud… and we didn’t even have a remote control in 1987, so we had to do it MANUALLY, by PHYSICALLY walking over to the TV set and pushing the buttons on the front of it. If there was nothing on worth watching, we just covered ourselves in blue woad and chased some woolly mammoths down Lingfield Road…)  

Anyone know which episode of Star Trek might have been broadcast on this particular day? I’d love to find out.

By the way, bizarrely, I saw our old dinner nanny Mrs James outside the post office yesterday. The first time I’ve clapped eyes on her since the day I left Levendale. I was terrified of her as a kid, but yesterday I held the door open for her and she gave me a lovely smile. I was *THIS* close to explaining who I was and asking for an interview, but I chickened out at the last second. I still wasn’t convinced she wouldn’t pull a whistle out of her pocket and send me inside to ‘have a think about what I’d done’.

I also had a strange dream about Jo Spayne last night. I was sitting outside Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones’ house working on a laptop underneath a willow tree, when Jo walked past and stopped for a chat. Within seconds he’d produced two guitars from under his coat and we were singing Frankie Goes To Hollywood songs to the neighbours.

I fear for the state of my subconscious by the end of the year…



  Thing wrote @

Might be able to help with the Star Trek episode. I remember that they started repeating the whole run from the beginning at about this time, so it was probably a very early episode. I’d guess The Man Trap or Charlie X most likely, or possibly Where No Man Has Gone Before, or Mudd’s Women or The Enemy Within. I seem to recall that all of those were shown about this month, although they might have missed out Where No Man.

I do remember watching What Are Little Girls Made Of in August that year, Shore Leave around Autumn, and City At The Edge OF Forever was shown about a week before Christmas. Squire Of Gothos and Catspaw were both shown in January 1985. I suspect the order they showed them in may have been a bit casual. Hope that helps.

  bobfischer wrote @

Thing, you’re amazing! Thanks for that. This is the first time I’ve mentioned watching Star Trek in my diary, so yeah – it’s unlikely it had been shown too many times before this (in 1984, anyway – they’d probably reached the end of the run late in 1983 and then just gone back to the start!)

BBC2’s five-year mission seemed to be to show all of Star Trek at 6.40pm on Tuesday nights, bless them. Where no man had gone before, unless they’d tuned a few years earlier and seen exactly the same episodes in exactly the same order.

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