Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 205

Monday 23rd July 1984

Woke up at 10.00ish and got up soon after. When I went downstairs I started to do a map of the Citadel of Chaos, but it didn’t work so I went out. Came in at 12.00 and had dinner, then I went out again. At 3.00 I came in and started writing my own role playing game, but I soon got sick and at 4.00 I went out again and played football.

At 5.00 I came in and had tea, then I went out and played on the tarzie. At 6.30 I came in and played on the computer, then at 7.10 I watchesd the last episode of that extremely ridiculous show, Manimal. At 7.45 I went out and played football, and at 9.00 I went to bed.

Don’t be fooled by all this ‘went out and played football’ business into thinking that I actually spent time with OTHER PEOPLE on this second, dreary, overcast day of the summer holidays. I didn’t. For the second day running, I spent all day pottering around by myself… ‘out’ didn’t extend any further than the garden gate, and the ‘football’ I played involved hammering the ball against the side of our house and pulling off increasingly flamboyant saves from the rebounds.

(This backfired spectacularly in the summer of 1981, when one particuarly vicous, curling shot bent around Poggy Doggy’s one-man defensive wall and smashed straight through the dining room window. My Mum spent the rest of night picking shards of glass from a Battenburg cake while my Dad paced up and down muttering about the ‘bloody insurance company’)

battenburg

I think my Mum was starting to ask me repeatedly if I was ‘alright’, probably concerned that her 11-year-old son was growing up to be the kind of intense, friendless loner who would rather lock himself in the spare room with a pile of second hand books and a broadband connection than actually go outside and meet people. Ha! The very thought…

citadel

In truth, being an only child, I’ve always been perfectly happy with my own company, and I just wanted to spend some quality time with the family. The family of Orcs that were chasing me relentlessly around Fighting Fantasy Gamebook No 2, The Citadel Of Chaos, that is. This one was a bit of a bugger, because – as I recall – the locations in said Citadel weren’t laid out in quite such a tidy, linear fashion as the ones in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and it tended to make a bit of a mess of my tidy, graph paper floorplans. Still, what better way to spend a summers afternoon than by cultivating levitation spells in the company of Garks, Black Elves and Golems on my way to defeat the evil Balthus Dire, thus restoring harmony to the fabled Vale of Willow?

Get behind the barriers ladies, I’m spoken for!

The ‘computer’ I was using at this stage was still my ancient Sinclair ZX81, and even the addition of a 16K rampack hadn’t done anything to dampen my desire for a fabled ZX Spectrum. I now wanted a Spectrum SO much that I think, if I’d met the Devil Incarnate at the crossroads outside our house (stopping only to buy a packet of Fruit Polos at the petrol station) I’d have been tempted to sell him my very mortal soul in exchange for one of Clive Sinclair’s latest rubber-keyed computers, providing he also gave me complete mastery of Level 18 of Manic Miner as well (The ‘Solar Power Generator’ room… I still can’t do it, after 25 years of practice…) 

I suppose it’s possible that I did sell my soul to the Devil on this day, and the diabolical punishment he inflicted upon me was to spend the evening watching Manimal. After an amazingly high-profile launch, the show had fizzled out a bit, and was now being watched only by grotty 11-year-old oiks who were still convinced that – if they thought about it for long enough – they’d be able to metamorphose into a sleek, black panther themselves and prowl around the rooftops of the Levendale estate.

(Although no doubt if I had managed to perfect this, I’d have still spent the afternoon curled up on the settee with a copy of Citadel Of Chaos in front of me. And then I’d have played with a ball of wool for a bit… )

I’d completely forgotten that Simon McCorkindale’s sidekick in this affable nonsense was Melody Anderson, who I’d previously seen as Dale Arden in that sensational 1980 film adaptation of Flash Gordon… yes, the one with Brian ‘GORDON’S ALIVE!!!!!!’ Blessed in it. Prior to Manimal, she’d also played the title role in the astonishing-sounding US TV movie ‘Policewoman Centrefold’ in which sassy cop Jennifer Oaks attempts to combine the twin occupations of female law enforcement officer and, erm, Playmate of the Month. 

You never got that sort of thing in Juliet Bravo, and it was probably just as well. Sgt Joe Beck would have choked on his sausage roll.

joebeck

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2 Comments»

  Inspector Hector Vector wrote @

Do you mean to tell me that you missed the notorious photoshoot that Constable Danny Sparks did for ‘Zipper’ magazine around this time?
You were damned lucky not to have found tattered scraps of it lurking under one of your hedges – especially the page with the reflective traffic glove and the cycle clips. Sergeant Parrish was rendered deskbound for the best part of six weeks after seeing it, as I recall.
Young Sparks got a right ticking off from the division as I recall.
“You clearly think you are hot stuff, Daniel!” snapped Longton disapprovingly at the start of his disciplinary.
If only she’d known…

  bobfischer wrote @

Sgt Parrish was in no position to take the higher moral ground after his sensational centre spread in ‘Truncheon’. Bravo, indeed…


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