Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 204

Sunday 22nd July 1984

Woke up at 9.40 and got up at 10.00. I started to do a map of The Warlock of Firetop mountain, then at 12.00 I had dinner. After that I did some more of the map, then I went out and played on the bike. At about 3.00 I came in and did some more mapping.

At 3.30 I watched Battlestar Galactica, then at 4.30 I continued to map. At 5.00 I had tea, and at 5.30 I mapped some more. Then at 6.00 I ate a few biscuits, a slice of toast, a packet of crisps, an apple and some trifle, then I listened to the charts.

At 7.15 I watched Are you being served, then I went out till 9.00, when I went to bed.

Ha! Day 2 of the summer holidays, and you’ll notice that my ‘getting up’ time has gone back an hour already. This pattern became exaggerated to such an extreme during my teenage years that, in August 1988, my Dad described me angrily as ‘virtually bloody nocturnal’. It wasn’t my fault that ITV’s night-time TV schedules were so good. They had repeats of The Chart Show, and everything. I refused to even contemplate going to sleep until 5am, when the music from the North-Eastern Jobfinder Teletext pages would gently lull me into unconsciousness.

A 10am start isn’t too bad, though. Even by my current standards. By 1988, I wouldn’t be getting out of bed until at least 1pm, at which point I’d slip into a pair of Dunlop Green Flash tennis shoes and skulk over to Neil Braithwaite’s house to spend the afternoon playing Dungeons and Dragons while listening repeatedly to Iron Maiden’s ‘Number Of The Beast’ album. In 1984, I wasn’t doing anything quite so geeky. I was, erm… just making a map of… erm… The Warlock of Firetop Mountain… *blushes*

And here it is!!!


Yep, my bespoke 1984 map of Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson’s legendary fantasy gamebook! I’m assuming this is it, anyway… if I’m honest, the handiwork looks a bit too ‘mature’ for my 11-year-old self, so I’m wondering if I might have redone it during my teenage years, possibly while watching The Chart Show on my bedside portable TV at 3.30am. But it was with a pile of 1984 stuff in the loft, so I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt…


I’m not sure where that bizarre list of food comes from, as it’s something I’ve never done in my 1984 diary before! Perhaps my burgeoning obsessive compulsive gene was starting to wake up (after a late night watching American’s Top 10 with Casey Kasem) and I decided there just WASN’T ENOUGH DETAIL in my diary…? In which case I’ve completely let myself down by not including the brand of biscuit, the spread on my toast, the flavour of the crisps and the content of the trifle.

If I get time this afternoon then I’ll book myself a course of hypnotherapy sessions to attempt to retrieve these details from the back of my brain, but until then I’ll hazard an educated guess at: Mint Viscounts, Robinson’s mixed fruit jam, Tudor pickled onion and strawberry (made, obviously, from powder and dried things in little cardboard packets. It had never been near a REAL strawberry in its short, trifly life)


I was getting quite addicted to the Radio 1 chart rundown by this stage, despite the fact that Simon Bates was still overseeing them like a strange, rumbly-voiced public school headmaster. Two Tribes was still at No 1, with Relax now having been bumped to No. 3 by Hole In My Shoe (and I’m sure Nigel Planer, in one of his Top of the Pops appearances, did a fab little speech at the start of the song – ‘Oh wow Frankie, really sorry about the charts, man… what a bummer…’ etc).

This little gem was still propping up the Top 20 as well…

24 years after Doug and I sang this song repeatedly as we cycled aimlessly around the streets, building sites, derelict wasteland and dangerous railway embankments of Yarm, I interviewed Nik Kershaw for my radio show. He was utterly charming, and we ended up talking a lot about the ‘Danish oil’ that he’d been applying to the floor of his recent garage conversion. ‘Where do you get that from?’ I asked. ‘Denmark,’ he replied. Funny how life turns out sometimes. 

And ‘Are You Being Served’! Fantastic. ‘Ground floor – perfumery, stationery and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery, kitchenware and food… going up!’ Don’t think for a second that I had to look that up.

By the way, is it true that Pink Floyd nicked the idea for ‘Money’ (from ‘Dark Side of the Moon’) from the Are You Being Served theme? I’d like to think so, and am only disappointed that Roger Waters never got round to making his oft-rumoured ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ concept album. (The final track on Side 3, ‘Lovely Shoulders, Boy, Show ‘Em Off’ would have been Christmas No. 1 in 1980)  


Anyway, on first glance at this diary entry, I assumed that BBC1 must have been showing some cheeky repeats of this vintage 1970s sitcom, but then realised… no! Are You Being Served was stil being made in 1984! At one point, amazingly, Wendy Richard was playing Miss Brahms and Pauline Fowler simultaneously. It’s staggering just how long some of those old sitcoms ran for… ‘Served’ clocked up ten series between 1972 and 1985, before the sixtysomething David Croft decided to slow down, enjoy his retirement, and… erm, write nine series of Allo Allo.

Great stuff anyway, and the opening seconds of that ‘Served’ theme take me back way beyond 1984… I’ve just had an overwhelming nostalgic flashback to being at my Gran’s bungalow circa 1977, aged four, and laughing hysterically at Mr Humphries’ antics as my Gran wheeled in a suppertime bowl of steaming Quaker Oats (and an overflowing sugar bowl with a few congealed brown lumps) on the hostess trolley. Glorious stuff.

warlockoffiretopAnd I might have gone to bed at 9pm, but I bet I stayed awake until after midnight reading The Warlock of Firetop Mountain and trying to work out why my map went wonky around the approach to the Minotaur’s lair.


  Thing wrote @

Strange to think that Frank Thornton has now been doing Last of the Summer Wine, from 1997 onwards, for nearly as long as he did Are You Being Served.

  bobfischer wrote @

Blimey, so he has! What a great comic actor… no-one does ‘pompous and stuffy’ quite like Sir Frank. His Captain Peacock is a delight.

Still acting at 88 as well! You wonder how he has time to make all those chocolates…

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