Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 239

Sunday 26th August 1984 

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.00. I did some more of the Fighting Fantasy A-Z, then at 12.00 I had dinner. After that I rang Doug but he was out so we trudged through six fields at Carlton, then found that Carlton Bank had been taken over by motor cyclists with red suits, yellow helmets and green kawasakis.

We came back at 3.30 and I went to Doug’s then we went to thee mud track and climbed thy tree. Came back home without Doug at ten past the hour of six and had thy cheese sandwich.

At 6.30, Dad, thy mad dog by the name of Tina and myself played football. At 7.15 I watched Are you being served, and at 7.45 I watched The old man of hoy. At 8.30 I watched the film of Porridge, and at 10.00 I went for a bit of like sleep, you know, in bed, you dig?

Clearly by this stage of the school holidays I’d broken through the bored and listless barrier and moved onto sheer, suicidal tedium!
All those charming olde worlde ‘thee’s and ‘thy’s undoubtedly came form the swords-and-sorcery-filled universe of my beloved Fighting Fantasy books (and possibly from Compo in Last of the Summer Wine as well) and the last sentence is a nifty little tribute to Neil from The Young Ones.

The ‘yellow helmets and green kawasakis’ line is a bit of deliberate innuendo as well… I remember sticking my tongue firmly into my cheek as I wrote my diary in, like, bed (you dig?) and congratulating myself on becoming the new Kenny Everett (weeeeelllll…. I’ve got the beard, anyway. Hello, Sorcha).

I was genuinely pissed off about this, though. Carlton was, of course, the little Yorkshire village that had played host to my school’s Outward Bound week back earlier in the year (have a look at the blog entries from 30th March onwards!) and was a delightful bucolic refuge for me and my parents… especially on a Sunday afternoon when we’d snuffle our way through oxtail soup and crumpets in front of Farming Outlook before heading out into the sticks.

Normally we’d walk the dogs up a winding, narrow pathway to the top of the towering Carlton Bank, huffing and puffing and cracking jokes as we went. He’s me, attempting to re-enact the ascent with the aid of Sherpa Jones, earlier this year…

On this occasion, though, the footbpath had been completely taken over by grotty teenage herberts on ‘scrambler’ motorbikes… all mullets and home-made tattoos and bumfluff moustaches. And – hey! – that was just the girls. Clearly inspired by BBC1’s Kick Start, they were haring up and down the footpath on what my Dad venomously referred to as ‘motorised farts’, scattering dogs, families and miserable-looking hikers to all corners of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Even at the age of 11, I saw this as an appalling affront to the glorious majesty of nature, and was even more cheesed off when it started to piss down on the journey back through those six bloody fields. As a result, I spent the rest of the afternoon in a bit of a sulk, grumbling to Doug’s mum about the whole sorry affair, and turning a perfectly decent afternoon’s mooch with my best mate into a bit of a surly whinge-fest.

I think this was also the afternoon on which two unwelcome intrusions from the adult world combined to plunge me even further into misery…

1. As I was climbing the tree at the ‘mud track’, a podgy, well-spoken Yarm thirtysomething trotted up apropos of nothing and barked, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’

‘Climbing a bloody tree, what does it look like?’ I sulkily grumbled.

‘Get down,’ he huffed, which I responded to with a disdainful snort. And then, to my eternal shame, I actually got down. At which point he seemed satisfied enough that he’d asserted some utterly meaningless authority over a situation that didn’t concern him at all, and wandered off to be cruel to some small animals somewhere. Probably.

2. As Doug and I were idly cycling out of the park, we were stopped by a party of four elderly walkers, who treated us to a lengthy diatribe about how ‘idiots like us, riding bicycles on the footpath, make it dangerous for normal, law-abiding people everywhere just to enjoy a quiet walk on a Sunday afternoon’. I think the phrases ‘in our day’ and ‘the youth of today’ were also used freely and with gay abandon.

I report with a mixture of shame and perverse pride that Doug and listened intently before rolling our eyes and defiantly climbing back onto our bikes to cycle away like fury, no doubt flicking a few indignant V-signs as we went. Funnily enough, I didn’t see any irony whatsoever in this behaviour considering my annoyance with the Carlton Bank scramblers a matter of hours earlier.

As we left, however, we were punished by a bit of strange, disturbing, instant karma. As we cycled hell for leather out of the park, a goods train rumbled by on the railway viaduct above us, and – I swear – I was hit on the head by a tiny, falling piece of rusty metal. It didn’t hurt, but it must have been dislodged from either the train or the track, and was clearly an official Caution from the Gods. A celestial yellow card. I stuffed it in my trouser pocket and kept it for ages afterwards, but I haven’t seen it for years now. 

And The Old Man Of Hoy! Right, I need help from some TV geeks here. I’m convinced that this was a brand new 1984 documentary about a new ascent on Orkney’s famous 450-foot stone stack. However, I can find very little evidence to support this.. the only TV documentary that I’ve discovered was made in 1967 and featured Chris Bonington’s assault on the summit. Was I really watching a repeat of a creaky, 17-year-old BBC docmentary on this balmy 1980s evening, or was there a new attempt made especially for 1984?

Good to Porridge – The Movie getting a mention, though. I still occasionally refer to lower league football teams as ‘nine small parts, a weatherman and a Widow Twankey’. Including my own.


  PJE_UK wrote @

I remember watching the Old Man Of Hoy. It was one of those occasional all day BBC projects with updates of the climbers progress interspersed throughout the day’s schedule until the summit scaling denoument in the evening.

It was a recreation of the 1967 televised event and featured the daughter of one of the original climbers.

She was Sam Brown who became famous for about 10 minutes due to her “by ‘eck as like, it’s difficult is this” thick as yorkshire pudding, state the bleeding obvious mutterings and spiky hair. Went onto present Razzamatazz !

Her Dad Joe Brown from the 67 assault may have been doing it again. It must be pointed out he was not the hedgehog haired purveyor of chirpy cockney guitar twattery with his crepe sole shod “bruvvers”.

Go on ask me another !

  David Brunt wrote @

Just to confirm the above.

Though it was Zoe Brown. Sam Brown was the hedgehoggy one’s daughter.

  Eddie_Catflap wrote @

I too remember the Old Man of Hoy program. Was it presented by the bloke who was on ‘North East’ TV who had a beard who wasn’t Paul Frost? Or maybe not.

I thought I’d have a look around here after you mentioned your diary serialisation on the radio tonight. What I’ve read so far is very entertaining and oddly familiar. We appear to have a shared history of mapping Fighting Fantasy books for starters. I had the first 10 and would carry them downstairs with me on a morning and back up to bed with me at night. Even wrote a letter to Steve Jackson about the Citadel of Chaos (and he amazingly wrote back). And I wondered at the time why I didn’t have a girlfriend. But I did have some great maps.

  PJE_UK wrote @

I stand corrected by David B, it was Zoe Brown and not Sam.

And the bearded “not Paul Frost” TV presenter was Erc Robson who used to put in a Friday evening late shift on BBC North East TV doing shows like Heroes (complete with Stranglers theme tune) and Coast To Coast (with Eric Claton ‘s Layla on theme duties here)

  bobfischer wrote @

Thanks everyone for the information! And hello Eddie, nice to see you around these parts.

It’s all coming back to me now. Joe Brown and his spiky-haired daughter Zoe! How could I forget? I think I had a terrible 11-year-old’s crush on her for about a fortnight of Autumn 1984. Although clearly Tyne Tees producers did their best to dampen my ardour by standing her next to Alistair Pirrie on a regular basis.

I do have vague memories of Eric Robson being involved in the Old Man of Hoy programme… although I’m not sure if I might be imagining it as well, as I’m sure he was an ITV man. You’d think the BBC would have sent Bob Langley, who – by 1984 – had cornered the TV market in rugged, manly outside broadcasting. I’ve never seen a man looking more comfortable striding up a Pennine in an Arran sweater. EVERYBODY’s Mum fancied Bob.

  Mia Kaminsky wrote @

I hate this site. All I wanted to do was see an image of a bunny and all i get is food and people.

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