Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 216

Friday 3rd August 1984

Woke up at 9.30 and got up at 10.00. I wrote my Fighting Fantasy all morning, then at 12.15 I had dinner. Then, inbetween playing on the computer, I rang Doug but he wasn’t in. Eventually, at 2.15, he answered and at 2.45 he came down and read my Fighting Fantasy.

Then we played on the computer till 5.00, when I had tea. At 5.15 We watched Diffrent Strokes, and at 5.45 Doug went home and I wrote some Fighting Fantasy till 7.00, when I watched I’ll fly you for a quid.

At 7.30 I watched Kenny Everett, and at 8.15 I watched the last bit of Simon & Simon. At 8.30 I wrote some more Fighting Fantasy, then at 9.00 I watched Babble. Went to bed at 9.30.

Aaaaaaaaaaargghhhh! Give it a rest, young 11-year-old Fischer. There’s nothing more dreary than someone trying to convince an unthusiastic friend that their hobbies are REALLY COOL and INTERESTING and the sort of thing that EVERYONE would love if only they’d give, erm, Fighting Fantasy games and Sinclair BASIC programming a chance.

ZX81topI have to read diary entries like this through my fingers, because it’s obvious that, back in 1984, poor Doug was far more interested in messing about on bikes and finding new tarzies than he was in my burgeoning geekdom. And who could blame him? He was a healthy, rogueish thrillseeking 11-year-old and it was the height of the summer holidays. I’ve nothing but admiration for the fact that he sat patiently through me demonstrating the rudiments of Z80 Assembly Code in the corner of the front room while the sun beamed through the windows and the sounds of our best friends gleefully demolishing a railwayman’s hut drifted into the house on a light, summer breeze.

He must have been crying inwardly, though. I’m surprised, by the end of the holidays, that he hadn’t had me ‘rubbed out’ by Stephen Mason and Phil Slack, our school’s acknowledged Mafia-style hit squad… chinese burns and wedgies a speciality.

drwhounderpants Did anyone actually give or receive a fabled ‘wedgie’? The first I heard of this phenomenon was circa 1993, when it was described to me by a chortling Slackie himself. For the uninitiated, the victim is pinned to the floor by a brawling mob, who then manfully grasp the top of his underpants (at the rear) and yank them towards the nape of the neck as violently as possible, resulting in the gusset of said undergarmet ‘wedging’ painfully into (and there’s no easy way of putting this) the crack of the victim’s arse.

For an added frisson, the victim can then by hung from a protruding object (say a tree branch) by the top of his underpant, rendering the agony excruiciatingly permanent, at least until a passing responsible adult walks past and unhooks the poor, bawling sap from his torment.

underpantsI also heard tell of an alternate, even more disgustingly painful variant, in which the same treatment is handed out, but this time it’s the FRONT of the underpants that are used. This unimaginable torment was described to me as a ‘Shelfie’, for reasons that I don’t even want to consider…

And yet…! Guess what? Although rumours of Wedgies and Shelfies had become a vital part of our long-standing school oral tradition (everybody knew about the mythical ‘mate of Baggsy’s brother’s next-door neighbour in the fifth form who got a Shelfie and had to go to hospital and now he’s only got one ball, and he keeps the other one in a jar in his bedroom…’ etc) I NEVER ACTUALLY SAW ONE TAKING PLACE AT ALL. EVER. Can anyone confirm or deny whether these terrifying phenomena actually existed, or were the stories just another Exocet Missile of Untrue Terror designed specifically to strike fear into the hearts of 11-year-old boys everywhere?

OK, the night’s TV!

openallhours‘I’ll Fly You For A Quid’ was an odd choice to be broadcast on a Friday evening in 1984, it’s a one-off Ronnie Barker comedy from 1973 about a gambling mad Welsh family whose grandfather backs a winner on the day he dies without telling them where the betting slip is hidden. It’s part of a series called ‘Seven Of One’… basically, seven pilots for potential sitcoms, all starring the mighty Ronnie. Two of them became Open All Hours and Porridge, but I’ve no idea why this particular episode (brilliant though it is) was shown on this night. Part of a Ronnie Barker season, possibly? Anyone? Anyone…? Bueller……?

And words CANNOT describe how much of an influence Kenny Everett had on my young life and comedy tastes. Along with The Young Ones, Blackadder and Not The Nine O’Clock News, The Kenny Everett Television Show was the comedy series you HAD to watch if you were a nasty, grotty, vindictive little primary school oik in the early 1980s. So that was all of us, then. 

It was AMAZING. Sketches would be adored, devoured, memorized and performed in full in the playground the following dinnertime. I fondly remember the afternoon in which at least thirty chortling lunatics (me, Slack, Mason, Sug, Frankie, Stan, Doug, Jonesy, et al…) pranced from one end of the netball pitch to another performing our own demented take on the legendary ‘Spiderman wetting himself’ sketch. Poor Mrs Gallon didn’t know where to look. 

cupid

The names and catchphrases are burnt into my mind like the great Kings and Queens of British history. Cupid Stunt! Gizzard Puke! Sid Snot! Marcel Wave! At various points in my primary school career, I remember…

a) Mr Millward rounding off one particularly high-spirit end of term ‘games day’ by dancing out of the school waving his pointed fingers in the air and singing ‘Brotherly… brotherly… brotherly love…’

brotherlyloveb) Mrs Keasey describing our school production of ‘Oliver!’ as being ‘all done in the best possible taste…’ (she didn’t say it to a cardboard cut-out of Michael Parkinson, though… just me and Doug, I think)

c) Mr Hirst circumnavigating the Upper Band classrooms shouting ‘Are there any boys that have finished their work and want to come out and play football? We’ll round ’em up… put ’em in a field… and b…’

‘…omb the bastards’ we muttered under our breaths, smirking, as he wisely neglected to complete the sentence himself. We then piled out onto the rain-sodden mudbath of our school field and committed an hours’ worth of assorted atrocities in the name of physical education.

So Kenny was everywhere, and deserves absolutely to be recognised as one of the British comedy greats. If his shows are EVER released on DVD, I’ll book the week off work and get through them all in a mammoth sitting, descending further and further into a pit of my own filth and saying ‘Ello, mah leetle chickadeeees…’ to anyone unfortunate enough to enter the room.

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6 Comments»

  David Brunt wrote @

The Barker repeat was a one-off. Probably used as filler just in case some of the Olympic coverage that night overran by half-hour, so it could be easily dropped.

Although Barker’s “Magnificent Evans” was only a few weeks from being broadcast. Maybe they were trying to gently ease the viewer in to Barker’s terrible Welsh accent?

  bobfischer wrote @

Ah yeah, that would make sense. I do remember my Dad being quite excited about it being on, as he’d seen it the first time round. We were no doubt both willing one of the British Olympic hopefuls to fail dismally so BBC1’s coverage wouldn’t be extended.

The Magnificent Evans pretty much exactly coincided with my first days at secondary school. Both seismic culture shocks to the system in their own distinct ways.

  shaun84 wrote @

I remember watching Kenny Everett on new year’s eve. We would go house to house and drink Coca Cola and eat cheese and pineapple on a stick.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ooooh! I’d bet good money that was New Year’s Eve 1979. Kenny did an ITV show called ‘Will Kenny Everett Make It To 1980?’ and it was ace… you can actually see the finale to it here!

I watched it round my Gran’s house, with my Gran and my Uncle Trevor – who had just returned from the Endeavour pub and smelt exotically of Brut and Harp Lager. He took me outside at the stroke of midnight to hear the ships’ hooters sounding in Tees Dock, several miles away.

  Mark Hirst wrote @

I can confirm that the staff room at that time was full of Kenny catchphrases and Mr M was one of the biggest fans and master of a well placed catchphrase! I regularly referred to him as Cupid.

Later we moved onto dropping Young One’s terminology into school life and the kids would lap it up.

And it has always been thus with staff in most schools, which I think is no bad thing!

  bobfischer wrote @

Fantastic! It was a great show. Long overdue a DVD release. I can imagine Mr M in a blonde wig telling outrageous stories about his early teaching career to a cardboard cut-out of Bill Watson.


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