Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 189

Saturday 7th July 1984

Woke up at 7.30 and got up at 9.00. I went out, then rode down to Doug’s but no-one was around so at 11.15 I came home and had dinner. At 12.00 we went to Middlesbrough and I got a Doctor Who mag, then after that I got some mirror glasses from Boots.

Then we went to C & A and I got some luminous socks. At 2.00 we went to the hospital and saw Grandma, then at 4.00 dad came and picked us up. Got home at 5.00 and had tea, then at 5.10 I watched Whiz kids. At 6.00 I watched the pyramid game, then at 6.30 I went out on the tarzie.

Came in at 7.00 and watched Ultra Quiz. At 7.00 I went out again and played on the tarzie, and at 9.00 I came in and had a shower. Went to bed at 10.00.

Yegods, I really shouldn’t have been allowed out to buy my own clothes, should I? Alright, let’s examine these fashion crimes one-by-one…

1. The mirror glasses, or ‘shades’ as I think I was just about starting to call them. Before I met Doug, I’d only ever heard them called ‘sunglasses’, or – if my Mum was feeling particularly exotic –  ‘dark glasses’. Doug was definitely the first person that I heard use the word ‘shades’ and I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant when he first said it (this happened a lot with Doug, although the vocabulary he introduced into my life was usually considerably filthier than ‘shades’. I’m STILL not sure what some of it means… )


Anyway, this purchase was undoubtedly inspired by a pair of (ahem) dark glasses that Holly Johnson was repeatedly pictured wearing during the summer of 1984. Although it’s hard to imagine he bought his for £2.99 from the rack near the hemorrhoid cream in Boots (more of a Littlewoods man, I reckon). Naturally I’d destroyed them by the end of the summer, but they looked a bit like this…


Holly Johnson was pretty much my first sartorial role model. Before 1984, I’d always just worn pretty much the same bog-standard kids clothes that all my friends wore… black straight-legged trousers, Marks and Spencers jumpers and various cheap school shirts (usually grey or light blue) bought in packs of three from Woolco. But Frankie Goes To Hollywood made me actually THINK about how I wanted to look (for better or for worse) and this was undoubtedly the start of that. I even (gasp) had my hair cut short and started slicking it back over my head around this time. Although, distressingly, rather than use any recognised 1980s hair product, I just doused it in handfuls of gunk from the ageing tub of Vaseline kept under the kitchen sink. I think I actually used Swarfega one day by mistake.

So thankyou, Holly. Although, let’s face it, the purchase of the luminous socks suggests I’d also been listening to a bit of Black Lace around this time…


Yikes. Pretty much a compulsory accessory for any 11-year-old in 1984, the luminous socks only achieved their full potency if you wore them mismatched and ‘odd’, coupling up the green one with the yellow one, and so on. Thus guaranteeing a string of disparaging comments throughout daylight hours from a procession of boring grown-ups who had NO IDEA about how ACE, MAGIC and downright GEEDY this new fashion trend was.

‘You’ve got odd socks on, you dozy little twat’ became a phrase I heard ringing in my ears at least thirty times a day. Starting with the Matron on Ward 17 of Middlesbrough General Hospital exactly 25 years ago today. Because I did, of course, change into them straight away. And put the mirror glasses on. And then spent the entire two hours of our hospital visit finding ‘stuff to take to the bin’ (banana skins, toffee wrappers, artifical limbs, old ladies etc) because – as I’m sure my Mum quickly realised – the wastebin on the wall of the hospital ward had a large mirror directly above it. So every time I made this selfless journey, I could check myself out in my new shades. Heyyyyyy…. (puts Fonz-style thumbs in the air)


I’m only surprised I didn’t try to hitch my legs on top of the wastebin so I could have a good look at the socks as well. Poor Grandma.

Here’s a picture from a little later in the summer, showing me wearing both of these exciting accessories (I didn’t get the hedgehog from C &A though… it was a cheap knock-off hedgehog from Stockton market)

inthegarden (That’s not Poggy Doggy, by the way – it’s his sister, Tina – aka Poggles Ponsonby. Just to stave off any potential confusion)


Naturally I had my Doctor Who Magazine as well (pictured), and – of course – I attempted to read it while still wearing my new mirror glasses, the only time in my life that I thought Colin Baker’s new costume looked reasonably tasteful…

And ‘Ultra Quiz’! Good lord. Anyone who complains that ITV’s plummet towards low-standard, downmarket entertainment has been a recent development should be forced to spend a night in a padded cell watching The Pyramid Game and Ultra Quiz. We’ve already covered the Pyramid Game in as much detail as is ever necessary, but Ultra Quiz is worth a mention.

Basically a bog-standard TV quiz that gained notoriety due to the sheer number of contestants and the exotic nature of its filming, the first episode gathered 1,000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND) punters together in (I think) a farmer’s field, asked them piss-easy general knowledge questions, and then requested that ‘those who think the answer is ‘cabbages’, move to the paddock on the left, those who think the answer is ‘Sir Keith Joseph’, move to the paddock on the right…’

Further heats to whittle down the heaving masses took place in France, Belgium, Los Angeles and Hawaii, and the whole kaboosh was presented by (wait for it) David Frost and Willie Rushton, thus leading to simultaneous outbreaks of the phrase ‘Bugger me, they must be desperate’ in sun-baked living rooms across the British isles.


Youtube won’t let me embed it into the blog, but there’s a great clip from the grand final here

Fantastically, the ultimate prize seems to have been a relatively measly-sounding £10,000… in one pound coins! Fantastic. I trust you had to carry them home yourself in a giant whiskey bottle.


  Chris Byers wrote @

Like the photo Bob I never realised what a fashion icon and trend setter you were. Poor Christopher Herbert had no chance.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’d been wearing that black shirt for three months solid by the time that picture was taken. And it was, indeed, solid.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I’m trying not to gag at the thought of smearing hair in vaseline. I’m laughing and mouthing ‘oh my god’ at the same time!

I still love luminous socks (anything luminous really) and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

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