Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 186

Wednesday 4th July 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. The bus didn’t come so dad took me in the car. Got there at 9.10 and it was assembly. When we came out Doug and I finished our poster, then read till 12.00 when I had dinner. In the aftenoon it was maths groups so I did maths all afternoon.

Came home at 3.15 and went out on the tarzie, and at 4.45 I had tea. At 5.00 I went back out again and played on the tarzie. At 7.30 I came in and watched the Agatha Christie film ‘And then there were none’ and at 9.00 I went to bed.

Brace yourself – today’s diary entry has INTRIGUE!!!

Agatha Christie would have been proud of  me, because today I present for your delication and delight a mystery that I defy any big-nosed Belgian sleuth worth his waxed moustached to solve.

Why have the opening four lines of my diary on this day been written once, comprehensively Tippex-ed out, then re-written over the top?

tippexdiary

Here we have Exhibit A – my 1984 Diary Entry from Wednesday 4th June. As you can see, the first four lines, up to and including the phrase ‘Got there at 9.10 and…’ have been written over a solid mass of caked, white Tippex thick enough to stick bathroom tiles to the wall. I wonder what I’d written that was so appallingly piss-poor that my only option was to obliterate it from the history books (well, alright…. book) and start again?

I’m guessing I was so used to starting my diary with the hypnotic mantra ‘Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. Got the bus at 8.30 and first at school…’ that I scribbled this down without thinking, before remembering that ACTUALLY the bus hadn’t turned up, and my Dad had been forced to back his grumbling Reliant Scimitar out of the drive and race me over to school just in time for Mrs Keasey to look up from her giant sticky-back plastic-bound register book and say ‘Robert Fischer…? Has anyone seen Robert Fischer this morning? Doug? Have you seen Robert…?’ 

scimitar

At which point I’d have slouched through the door, sweating and mumbling, and slumped into a plastic grey seat that, when I got up from it ten minutes later, would have had an embarrassingly conspicious line of arsecrack-shaped sweat along the middle. Hooray!
 
I’d forgotten how much of a Holy Grail our teachers’ register books were as well. Mrs Keasey used to hold hers up vertically, like a paranoid bingo-player, and any stolen glimpses of the contents were the Levendale Primary School equivalent of hacking into the Pentagon Computer (which I think was about to happen in an episode of Whiz Kids)

As far as I remember, it looked like this…

FISCHER Robert  OOOOO  OOOOX  XOOOO

And so on, with ‘O’s being days on which I was present, and ‘X’s being days on which I was watching Pebble Mill At One at home, pretending to be ‘chesty’ and swigging virulently treacly Lucozade from a dimpled glass bottle with orange cellophane around the top. Do teachers still call the register at school, or is it all done with microchip neck implants and barcode readers these days?

Anyway, the ‘poster’ that Doug and I were STILL working on was the ‘Don’t Bugger About With Fire’ affair that we’d started on Friday 29th June. Doug and I were both half-decent artists, so – let’s face it – we could feasibly have knocked this off in an hour. The fact that we managed to string it out for FOUR WHOLE SCHOOL DAYS is, I think, testament to our sterling powers of prevarication and healthy admiration for the pace of the old Gastropod Molluscs. Quite frankly? IT MAKES ME PROUD TO BE BRITISH. Now, whose turn is it to put the kettle on?

And, ah yes… Agatha Christie. ‘And Then There Were None’ was, of course, a glitzy mid-1970s film adaptation of a 1939 book that originally had a very different title indeed. I’m actually slightly impressed that, at the height of ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ and whatnot, anyone involved with the film actually saw fit to use the alternate title, although – somehow – WE at school definitely knew what it was.

andthenthere

‘Do you know what the original book’s actually called?’ said Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald to me, over a playground game of ‘Stuck In The Mud’ one sunny dinner hour in the summer of 1984.

‘No…’ I shrugged.

‘Ten Little Niggers’, he whispered, incredulously. Even in 1984 we were a bit taken aback by this discovery, which I’m quite pleased by now – especially considering that we were pupils at a school whose entire non-white British population (as far as I can remember) consisted of a lad called Matthew, whose dad was from (I think) somewhere in central Africa, and a girl called Pippa, whose father was Chinese. And both of them had still been born and raised on Teesside.

You’d think, given the popular culture of the time (remember, The Black and White Minstrel show was a popular BBC1 ratings winner until – yikes – 1977) and the fact that we’d all grown up in a resolutely white, middle-class area, that the very mention of the naughty N-word would have had us tittering into our sleeves.

But it didn’t, and somebody should probably take a bit of credit for that. No idea who, but definitely somebody…!

Anyway, I really enjoyed the film, with its uber-70s cast of Oliver Reed, Dickie Attenborough, Elke Sommer and Charles Aznavour, and I should probably check it out on DVD at somepoint. In the meantime, it’s just struck me – 30 minutes after I started writing this rubbish – that the global Tippex market has probably completely collapsed now, hasn’t it? Is there a possibility that the cracked four inches of solid Tippex caked onto my diary page exactly 25 years ago is actually worth something?

If someone offers me enough money for it then I’ll chip it off the page, and the mystery will be solved…

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2 Comments»

  Chris Byers wrote @

There is very simple reason why we all new the alternative title to ‘And Then There Were None’ and that is because there was a copy of the book in the school library. Even at the time we couldn’t believe they allowed a book with that title in the library.

  bobfischer wrote @

Blimey, really? I’d forgotten all about that. There’d probably be legal action somewhere along the line if that happened these days. What a hotbed of sin and depravity the school library turned out to be… I still remember how traumatised I was the first time I saw pages 88-89 of the Junior Encyclopaedia of the Human Body.

(Page 95 was a bit fruity as well)


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