Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 195

Friday 13th July 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.10. At 8.30 I went to school and at 9.30 we went into the hall to listen to some orchestra. At 10.00 We watched the first Sex Education film and at 10.30 we went out to start the Frankie v Placie cricket match.

We fielded first and got ’em all out, then had a bit of a bat before dinner and got 9 for 6! At 12.00 I had dinner and then we went out again and finished the first innings. Then we had half an hour each batting and drew.

Came home at 3.15 and played out till 5.00 when I had tea. At 5.15 I watched Diffrent Strokes, then at 5.45 I went out till 7.00 when I watched Doctor Who. At 7.30 I watched Simon and Simon, and at 8.30 I went out. At 9.00 I watched Babble and at 9.30 I went to bed.

An orchestral performance, some sex education and a bit of limited-overs cricket! What better way to spend a summers day? I imagine some careful organisation skills were required of Mrs Keasey and Mr Hirst to ensure that none of these events were mixed up. Nobody wanted to see the naked beardy man from The Joy Of Sex fully ‘padded up’ and ready to face a wicked googlie from Dame Evelyn Glennie. And mind where you’re putting that euphonium!


OK, the truth… I’ve no idea how or why the Cleveland Youth Orchestra (or whoever they were… they were definitely kids, and the percussionist was a dead ringer for Doug’s sister Jen, a suggestion that he pooh-poohed with surprising vehemance after the show. Maybe he’d had a bad experience with a female glockenspiel player than I didn’t know about)  appeared in our school hall for half an hour on a Friday morning, but they did, and I sat through their performance in mortal fear, knowing full well that our first Sex Education film was set to follow.

I’m not sure why I was so scared of a bit of Sex Ed… it wasn’t as if I came from some repressed, madly religious family where ‘the other’ (copyright Sir Sidney James) was an off-limits subject. My parents were absolutely cool with anything like that, and hadn’t even mentioned the forthcoming films. It was just me, being my usual paranoid self. I think I felt as though a big chunk of my innocent childhood was being set adrift, and I was (in the words of Obi Wan Kenobi) about to make my ‘first step into a larger world…’ 

Although I had a childhood phobia about facial hair as well, so it’s possible I was just a bit edgy about the women in the film.


At 10am on the dot, Mrs Keasey uttered the immortal words that I’d been dreading all week. ‘Can all Fourth Years make their way into the hall, please…’ We shuffled in from our various hidey-holes, as our grinning form teacher ominously closed the curtains on ALL the doors and windows (clearly to exclude the prying eyes of the school’s more junior filth-hounds) and wheeled our legendary TV-in-a-wooden-cabinet-on-a-trolley out in front of the PE Apparatus.

‘Before we start,’ asked Mr Millward, his moustache all a-quiver, ‘Is there anybody here whose parents specifically requested that they DIDN’T watch the film today?’

A grumbling trio of 17th Century puritan boys from Yarm’s thriving Amish community shuffled reluctantly towards the door to get back to their finger painting.


My heart was pounding as the film started. I’ve tried and failed to find any Youtube footage of the video we watched, but it was Part One of three half-hour shows, and was a proud cousin to the classic, stern-voiced Public Information Films that popped up all over British TV in the 1970s and 1980s. I’m sure it was a ‘BBC For Schools And Colleges’ production (complete with ticking ‘countdown’ clock, and yes… we were still unable to resist ‘shooting’ off the seconds with our loaded fingers)…

I think we were about twenty minutes in before I started to relax. Probably at about the point that I realised that today’s Sex Education film was going to contain NO INFORMATION ABOUT SEX WHATSOEVER. We learnt a lot about ‘The Miracle Of Life’ and how babies develop in the womb from a single cell (all accompanied by brilliantly static 1970s animations and a gravelly, authorative narration – probably done by Patrick Allen from the Barrett Homes advert and ‘Two Tribes’) but there was no mention at all of ‘how’s your father’ (thanks again, Sidney)

As we emerged afterwards, Simon Thompson, a cheeky-faced young scamp from the year below us, was waiting eagerly by the doorway. ‘Phwoooar!’ he said, making an obscene gesture with his forearm. ‘I was listening to that, it sounded pretty hot stuff. I got a peek through the curtains as well. What was that round thing?’

‘An ovum,’ said Doug, rolling his eyes. ‘What a waste of time. There was nothing there that I didn’t know already’.


Roll on Part Two – rumours of a naked beach volleyball scene were already spreading like wildfire.

And cricket! Fantastic… after one of the most stressful mornings of my 11 years on the planet, Messrs Hirst and Millward had brilliantly agreed to take ALL the fourth year boys out of their classrooms for virtually a full day’s worth of competitive cricket on the school field. The idea had actually come from us – a polite, gentle request from ace sportsmen Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank and James ‘Placie’ Place that had clearly struck a chord with Mr Hirst. We had one week of our seven-year primary school careers left, and it was time to let our hair down a bit…


And it was lovely. The sky was a deep azure blue, with great white whales of clouds loping idly above. The sun had made the baked-dry grass of our school field a gorgeous, luminous green, and fat bumble bees were buzzing around patches of milk-white clover. As our two beaming male teachers lead us out proudly onto the pitch, sports bags bulging with junior bats, pads, stumps and balls (oh yes, we were doing this properly), it felt as though all the stress and tension of the dreaded Sex Education films belonged to a different time and place entirely.

We had, for the afternoon, finally got our childhoods back.


‘My voice seems to be getting deeper,’ said Doug, enthusiastically stuffing the legendary cricketing ‘box’ down the front of his jeans. ‘Maybe my balls have dropped since I saw that film this morning…’ 

It was the first time I’d ever heard the phrase, and I had to seek confirmation from him that did, indeed, mean exactly what I thought it did. The BBC’s Sex Education Department must have been saving it up for Part 3 of our films. Just after the naked beach volleyball.

My three main memories of our day’s worth of cricket…

1) We used a ‘proper’ cricket ball, rather than the usual harmless fluffy tennis ball substitute. ‘Now, these can HURT…’ warned Mr Millward, sternly. ‘If anybody would prefer to face a tennis ball instead, then speak up now – NOBODY here will think the worse of you for it…’

Needless to say, not a single hand was raised. Thirty seconds later, our opening batsman Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald faced an opening delivery from Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank that fizzed along the wicket like a Exocet Missile  and exploded, with a sickening *thump*, directly into Ozzie’s testicles. He dropped alarmingly to the turf and lay there in disarmingly still silence, clutching his throbbing privates as the ball wobbled around his feet before resting gently against his off-stump.


‘Are you alright?’ asked a concerned Mr Millward.

‘I’d like to face the tennis ball, please,’ gasped Ozzie, through stifled tears and a small pool of snot.

‘Look, the ball’s hit his stumps,’ said Frankie. ‘He’s out! Who’s next in bat?’

‘He’s IN,’ ruled Mr Hirst ‘His bails are still intact. We hope. Now get back to your crease and be careful where you’re bowling..’

2) Our pre-dinner collapse forcing me to don my pads and (snigger) ‘box’ much faster than anticipated. ‘Someone help him pad up, the poor lad’s struggling here…’ frowned Mr Millward. I’d never been good with fasteners and buckles and things, and was getting myself into a bloody awful mess. Needless to say, no-one wanted to help stuff my box down my trousers. Story of my life.


I batted opposite my team captain, James ‘Placie’ Place, who favoured an unorthodox left-handed approach that built us a nice little fourth wicket stand (five runs) before I – inevitably – attempted a ludicrous fifty-yard slog that was caught one-handed by the Nursery School cabin by Paul ‘Frankie’ Frank. I think he was eating an apple with the other hand.


3. I appreciate this sounds utterly, utterly, mental, but – at one point during the gorgeous,  sun-drenced afternoon, I swear I saw a giant, kindly, benevolent face looking down from the fluffy mish-mash of clouds in the summer sky, and assumed that God himself was blessing our idle afternoon knock-up with his approval. I think I must have been out in the sun for too long, or had eaten a mouldy Spam Fritter for dinner.

I was hilariously sunburnt by the time I got home. My Mum was scrubbing carrots at the kitchen sink.

‘Someone’s caught the sun,’ she smiled. ‘Ooooh, how was your Sex Education film this morning?’

‘Fine,’ I replied. ‘We scored 9 for 6 by dinnertime, then me and Placie had a nice fourth wicket stand. Then Doug went in bat, and scored three fours in a row! But when Jonesy started bowling, that’s when it all fell apart…’ 

I had nightmares about naked beach volleyball that night.



  Drew Smith wrote @

I haven’t read this blog for a while and it perhaps says a lot about me that I was lured back with the promise of sex education films…

  bobfischer wrote @

And I thought you loved me for my junior cricketing anecdotes. You men are all the same.

It must be disappointing to turn up and find that today’s entry contains virtually nothing about whatsoever about sex. Disappointing, but strangely in keeping…

(Wait until we watch Parts 2 and 3, though. PHWOOOARRRR!!!!)

  janet haigh wrote @

enough with the pictures of james place! swoon.

anyhow, i remember that tv set so well, but i bet it’s shrunk…

  Fiona Tims wrote @

I| was looking through some long misplaced childhood photos the other day. I jokingly remarked to my parents that I couldn’t believe how suntanned/burnt I was and that I’d prob get skin cancer in later life. They said people didn’t worry about it back then and I said it was because they were bad parents hehe.

  bobfischer wrote @

It had doors on, didn’t it? The TV set that is, not James Place.

I saw Time Bandits for the first time ever on that TV.

  bobfischer wrote @

Nobody cared at all about sunburn until around 1990, did they? I used to get horrendously burnt at some point every summer, and my Mum would just roll her eyes and slap Boots Aftersun all over me.

To be fair, of all the bloody stupid things that I’ve done over the decades that could potentially harm my health, going out in the sunshine is pretty far down on the list. 😉

  Justin wrote @

Were the sex education films old enough to be covered in this little gem?

  bobfischer wrote @

I did wonder about that DVD, but I think the most recent film on that is from 1973, and ours was more from the late 70s/early 80s. I’ve seen clips of the 1973 film on Youtube, and it’s more ‘adult’ than ours was… there are bits about contraception and abortion in it, whereas ours was very much a straight ‘this is how babies are made’ film aimed at much younger children.

I’m sure it was a BBC production. I did catch it on TV once in about 1988, on BBC2 one weekday afternoon when I was ‘ill’ – again, shown as part of their ‘Programmes For Schools and Colleges’ schedule.

  Mark Hirst wrote @

We showed the latest sex education film to our Year 5 (9/10 year olds) just last week. The girls watch a girly one and the boys watch a similarly boyish one, And then they come together for the joint episode. As you can imagine, the sex education films have progressed to a graphic degree. We (the teachers) then have to field the inevitable questions. It’s always a fun filled afternoon and I learn so much! You can order this DVD from Pulse and Cocktails at Skippers Lane.

I would have hoped that during the cricket match I took an unscheduled spell with the new ball? It was always satisfying to hurl a hard ball at the likes of Slackie, Mason and Herbert.

Stan or Frankie would just drive me through the covers for four and wave at the crowd.

  bobfischer wrote @

MORE graphic? What can possibly be more graphic than a drawing of a wobbly ovum and a cartoon beardy man taking off his underpants?

Interesting that the girls and boys get seperate films these days, I don’t think that was the case for us, was it? I’m pretty sure we were all lumped in together. You start much younger these days as well… I was only a few months away from my 12th birthday at this stage. The only sex education I got at the age of nine was when Terry McCann went to a strip club in Minder.

To be fair, it’s stood me in good stead. On the rare occasions that I’m in a room with a naked woman, I’m now a dab hand at looking vaguely appreciative while drinking half a pint of Harp Lager and smoking a cigar.

And I’m sure you did have a couple of cheeky overs, Mr H! Come to think of it, it wasn’t you that took out Ian Oswald’s prize middle stump was it?

  Drew Smith wrote @

During our primary school sex-ed the boys and girls watched one video about male puberty together and then all the boys were sent out while the girls were shown their tape. We all thought it was very unfair and I’m still not 100% sure what happens down there.

The BFI Sex Ed DVD is fantastic! I watched it at a friends house in London. Emma was there too and I’m not sure if that makes it more or less seedy. Some of the things we learned from the films in the set include:

During your period you should avoid stepping in puddles and must remember to wash your face.
Sanitry towels used to be the size of Cornflake boxes.
Only hairy, beardy men get sex.
If you get pregnant outside of wedlock your baby will be sent to an orphanage, diagnosed with a heart condition and locked up forever.

It also features both the most disinterested masterbator ever comitted to film.

  bobfischer wrote @

I t hink the girls-only sex education tape contains lessons on silent sulking, crying in the locked bathroom and finding Double Deckers at 3am during the peak of the menstrual cycle. Sacred knowledge that we men are forbidden to access.

But blimey, that DVD sounds like a must-see! But let me get this straight (so to speak)… one of the vintage, retro sex education films contains footage of a gentleman, erm, touching himself? Please, please tell me this dates from the 1950s and he’s wearing a trilby and casually eyeing up a postcard of Kim Novak.

  Drew Smith wrote @

Disturbingly, yes it does. I think that one was 1970s. 60s at a push maybe. By way of contrast the female demonstrator looked well into it. I hope she got more money!

Most of the films are really bleak, you’d never want to have sex if you were shown these as a kid. I think that must have been the trick. Kids today should be brought up on grubby looking nude models who look like they need a good feeding; not Skins and Hollyoaks.

  bobfischer wrote @

Crikey! Rather like Queen Victoria, I refuse to accept that ladies would ever do such a thing. (And I have a German name and a penchant for bearded Scotsmen, but that’s where the similarities end)

Seriously, that’s amazing, I had no idea that 70s Sex Education could be so (ahem) frank. If that had been shown on BBC2 at 11pm on a Thursday, the country would have self-destructed. Ted Heath would have sent the army in to deal with the street riots.

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