Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 211

Sunday 29th July 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.00. I did some Fighting Fantasy, then at 10.30 I rang Doug but he wasn’t in. I did some more Fighting Fantasy, then I went out and played football. At 12.00 I had dinner, then I did more Fighting Fantasy till 1.30, when I called for Doug.

He was still out so I came back and played football till 2.00 when I did some more Fighting Fantasy. At 4.30 I had tea, then played football till 6.10, when I listened to the charts. At 7.00 Spike came into the garden, then at 7.15 I watched Are you being served.

At 7.45  I went out, then at 8.30 I came in and did some more Fighting Fantasy. At 9.00 I went to bed.

I’d just like to say the words ‘Fighting Fantasy’ a few more times, as I don’t think they got enough of a mention in my diary entry for this day. Fighting Fantasy. Fighting Fantasy. Fighting Fantasy. There we go. Ian ‘Fighting Fantasy’ Livingstone, if you’re reading this, can I have a cheque in the post please? A Fighting Fantasy cheque, obviously. Drawn from the Bank of Fighting Fantasy. Signed by you, or any of the other Fighting Fantasy people who worked on ‘Fighting Fantasy’, the popular range of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. 

Mind you, I was always more of a Lone Wolf man myself.

deathtrapJoke!!! I wish I’d kept all the, erm, Fighting Fantasy books that I attempted to write around this time, I was clearly devoting a significant portion of my waking hours to them. I think the story I was hammering away at on this particular occasion was a shameless rip-off of Deathrap Dungeon called, with sad predictability, ‘Labyrinth of Death’.

Amazingly, I was utterly convinced that all of this hilarously knocked-off guff would be instantly snapped up by a publisher the second that I’d finished it… my previous attempts at great literature included ‘Space Wars’ (in which drippy farmhand Lars Starwalker takes on the evil overlord Dark Radar) and ‘Doctor Why’ (in which an eccentric ‘Time Baron’ roams the universe in a malfunctioning red telephone box).

I’ve grown out of this now, of course. I’m currently working on a TV sitcom set in a department store. It’s called ‘Have You Been Seen To?’ and features the camp Mr Touchwood getting into all manner of hilarious scrapes with his stuffy boss Sergeant Hampton and frustrated, middle-aged ladies assistant Mrs Mountjoy. Oooooh, have you been seen to? (Cue raucous laughter)

mrhumphriesAnyway, since yesterday’s sizeable entry (more chortles from the studio audience) I’ve seen concerns expressed that we seemed to have left Spike – the startled hedgehog that Doug and I rescued from the side of the busy main road – in a cardboard box alongside (brace yourself) a saucer of bread and milk. This is, of course, pretty much the worst thing you can ever give to a hedgehog, as their tiny stomachs find it very difficult to cope with… however, back in 1984, it was received wisdom that – frankly – they bloody loved the stuff and couldn’t get enough of it.

Thankfully Spike’s unadulterated, rich new diet didn’t seem to deter him too much, as – 24 hours after being released back into the wild (or, at least, the farmers’ field round the back of our house… that was about as wild as it got in Yarm) – HE CAME BACK FOR MORE!!! And no doubt my Mum dutifully obliged. He’s probably still in Hedgehog Rehab somewhere going through a Seven-Stage Plan to kick his two-loaves a month Mother’s Pride habit.

(NB A little saucer of catfood or dog meat is apparently what’s best for them… see, I’m not just here for the nasty things in life…)

I’d also like to point out that yesterday’s picture of our hedgehog-related indiscretion features a cardboard box with a strange coat of grey paint…

1_Spike the HedgehogUndoubtedly the remants of my poor cardboard K9 from this picture, taken over two years earlier in Spring 1982. My family was recycling decades before our local council got in on the act!


The archetypal lazy Sunday then, really, although I do remember listening to the last hour of the Top 40 while lazing on the settee in the front room while my Mum chipped in with the occasional critical remark… ‘This is awful’ ; ‘Oooh, I quite like this’ ; ‘Is this a girl or a bloke?’, that kind of thing. I think this was the night when Simon Bates got so bored of playing Frankie’s ‘Two Tribes’ for the umpteenth week running, that he flipped it over and played the B-side instead, their sterling cover of Edwin Starr’s ‘War’…

And a song I definitely remember taking a liking to on this very day was Laura Branigan’s thumping power ballad ‘Self Control’, which I still have a bit of a soft spot for. And every time I hear it, it fills my head with a giddy rush of 1984 nostalgia, which is always a lovely thing…


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