Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 226

Monday 13th August 1984

Woke up at 8.00 when Poggy Doggy jumped on me, but went back to sleep again till 10.00, when I read the Five Doctors. At 11.00 I got up and wrote some more Fighting Fantasy, and at 12.00 I had dinner.

After dinner I played Deathtrap Dungeon and won, then I went out and played football. At 3.45 I went and fed Doug’s rabbits, then at 5.00 I came home and had tea. Then I went out and played on the tarzie, and at 6.10 I watched the highlights of the Olympics.

At 7.10 I watched Star Trek, and at 8.00 I watched Only Fools and horses and at 8.30 Dad and I took the dogs on the field. At 9.15 we came back and I went to bed.

According to the previous day’s diary I went to bed at 9.15pm, so it’s good to see I spent a nice, solid 14 hours lying in a pit of my own filty before daytime activity beckoned me downstairs! If you can call it ‘activity’, that is. My bed was the rickety bottom half of a set of late 70s bunk beds, with nylon sheets and a pale blue (or, occasionally, yellow) bedspread. All of my dreams up until the age of 14 were powered by static electricity.

The bunk beds had been assembled in their entirety throughout most of 1983, as I definitely remember spending that (incredibly hot) summer sleeping drowsily on the top bunk while using the bottom bed as – basically – a dumping ground for comics, computer magazines, Star Wars figures, Doctor Who books and TDK D90 cassettes. Every morning I’d clamber down the ladder and switch on the black and white portable TV on my white plastic bedside table, then climb back into bed and lazily watch Anne Diamond and Nick Owen chuntering amiably through Good Morning Britain…

(For the full 1983 bunk bed effect, I’m watching the above clip from the top shelf on the spare room wall. And yes, the bottom shelf is STILL covered in comics, computer magazines, Star Wars figures, Doctor Who books and TDK D90 cassettes. To my eternal shame, some of them are actually the same ones…)

And 9pm Roland Rat would take over, so there was no point in getting up until after that. Especially if I had Terrance Dicks’ novelisation of The Five Doctors to read, although if I dozed off with the telly still on then I’d occasionally drift into a strange, half-walking slumber in which Kevin The Gerbil single-handedly battled a platoon of Cybermen in Gallifrey’s Dead Zone…

We don’t really have celebrity puppets any more, do we? In the early 1980s, at least 60.5% of TV presenters were covered in thick fur and seemed to have a hand inserted into their back passage (insert your own Richard Keyes joke here). As well as Roland, Kevin and Erroll the Hamster, there were the likes of Nookie Bear, Lord Charles, Orville the Duck, Cuddles the Monkey and even Basil Brush still doing the rounds. The Muppets were still going strong, Fraggle Rock was in its infancy, and weekday mornings on Tyne Tees often still played host to Sesame Street. Although I was always a little bit edgy around Big Bird, who was just the right height to reach over into the top half of a set of 1970s bunk beds and start pecking the helpless occupant to death.


The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics had finished the previous day, on Sunday 12th August, and had passed me by a little bit, to be honest… I was going through a time of my life when I just wasn’t that interested in sport. My mates, my bike, Doctor Who, Fighting Fantasy books and pop music were my main pre-occupations, which didn’t leave a lot of room for poor old Seb Coe and Fatima Whitbread, although (as I think I’ve mentioned before) Daley Thompson was a bit of a hero of mine. His 100m sprint at the start of the below clip still looks utterly amazing to me…

Still, why spend a full fortnight glued to the telly watching this stuff, when you can catch up with everything you need to know in a quick, easily-digestible hours worth of highlights on BBC1 on a Monday night? Although, bizarrely, my main memory of watching this show was that we watched it on the portable TV (dragged kicking and screaming from my bedroom) sitting round the kitchen table while my Dad attempted to stick some random, broken part of his car dashboard back together with superglue.

As he did so, a tiny drop of glue dropped onto his brown late 1970s acrylic trousers, and burnt straight through them with a tiny puff of smoke! Afterwards, a hole the size of a garden pea was visible in the material covering his left thigh, with blackened burnt edges revealing a tiny patch of bare flesh underneath. 

My dad reacted with typical Teesside stoicism. ‘Ow! Ooh! Yer bugger!’ he yelled, before patiently explaining to me how an element in the glue must have triggered a chemical reaction with the man-made fibres in his trousers. I listened entranced and delighted, before he made it clear that he was now putting the glue under lock and key, in case I attempted to spread it all over my nylon bedsheets and create a series of explosions worthy of the Dead Zone itself.



  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

We don’t have celebrity puppets nowadays but we are overrun with celebrity muppets. It seems a poor exchange if you ask me, although I’m fully aware that you did not.

It is heartening to see your younger self taking an early interest in the complexities of chemical reactions. I hope this healthy theme will continue to flourish over the remaining months of 1984. You’re never too young to write down a sheaf of observations on chemical change!

  Chris Orton wrote @

Isn’t there a cactus puppet thing on Children’s BBC these days? Obviously not a patch on Gordon the Gopher, Edd the Duck and the like though. Now they *were* stars!

  bobfischer wrote @

Ooooh yeah, there is! He’s called Oucho, and I get to see him quite a lot on the CBBC channel when I’m waiting for the Sarah Jane Adventures to start.

I am 36 years old.

And yes, Dr Parcel, I was always interested by the wonders of science as a child! Although as an addendum to today’s blog entry I should point out that, at the age of 14, my dreams ceased to be powered by static electricity. Instead, they were powered by Pepsi and Shirlie, Nicola Bryant and Siobhan from Bananarama.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’ve just discovered that Pepsi Demacque is now 50. I need to go and lie down for a little while.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I’m sure it will still be safe to drink. Full of preservatives, you see. However, if the seal has been tampered with in any way you should think again.

  bobfischer wrote @

Seal is only 46. How do I tell if he’s been tampered with?

  Justin wrote @

Ooooh yeah, there is! He’s called Oucho, and I get to see him quite a lot on the CBBC channel when I’m waiting for the Sarah Jane Adventures to start.

Same here (err, except I’m 43)… not forgetting when Ed and Oucho take a break they sometimes have Holly Walsh on (like they did while SJA was transmitting in 2008) and she’ presents with ‘Dunceton the Brain’ who’s a, well, puppet talking brain… though Holly’s writing for channel 4 now so unlikely to return 😦

  bobfischer wrote @

I’ve seen Dunceton the Brain, I’d forgotten about him! He’ll have to go solo if Holly has defected to Channel 4. Don’t George, Zippy and Bungle now tour without Geoffrey? It’ll be just like that, although with a slightly less extravagant rider (I hear Zippy refuses to perform without half a gallon of Wild Turkey inside him)

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