Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 241

Tuesday 28th August 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.30. I went outside and played football till 12.00, when we had dinner. Then we went to Woolco at about 12.30 and I got some shoes, football boots and a parka for Conyers.

When we came back I played football till 4.15, when we had tea. After tea I went out again till 6.15, when I watched Tom and Jerry. At 6.30  I watched Kick Start, and at 7.00 I watched Automan.

At 7.45 I watched That’s life, at 8.30 I watched Butterflies, and at 9.00 I went to bed.

Ah, Woolco! Pretty much Woolworth’s big brother as I recall… a gigantic, aircraft-hanger sized megastore plonked slap bang in the middle of Thornaby. It dominated the concrete town centre, and had – famously – been the location for a full, in-character Doctor Who signing circa 1976, with a scarf-wearing Tom Baker grinning insanely at a seething crowd of grotty Teesside kids in flares and parkas.  

(I didn’t go, naturally – I was three in 1976, and far more interested in the Mr Men and The Wombles)

woolco

It sold everything from Star Wars toys (yay!) to kitchenware (boo!) to boring rotten old school gear, and – with only a week of the summer holidays left – my Mum was clearly keen to tick off a few more items from the ‘STUFF YOUR KIDS MUST BRING’ list provided to us by the terrifying, faceless stormtroopers that ran Conyers comprehensive school.

The shoes were a bit of an issue for me, as I’d not actually worn a pair of ‘proper’ shoes for about six years at this point. My first pair of snug, comfy ‘Start Rite’ trainers had been bought from Charles Clinkard’s shoe shop in Middlesbrough around the end of 1978, and I’d never looked back. But Conyers – with its strict uniform policy – stipulated that proper, ‘grey or black shoes (NOT TRAINERS)’ must be worn, and so – in Aisle 43 of Woolco, with Spandau Ballet’s ‘I’ll Fly For You’ playing in the background – I was forced grumbling and sulking into a pair of black, plastic ‘spanner shoes’ with laces like garden worms and interiors constructed entirely from razor blades.

I clumped up and down the shop for a few seconds before my Mum said ‘How do they feel?’. I slumped into a seat, muttered something unintelligable, and shrugged my shoulders.

‘He likes them,’ she nodded to the Kevin Webster-a-like sales assistant, pulling her chequebook from her handbag. 

The football boots were a typically cheap-and-nasty-looking ‘Gola’ pair, with the plastic studs moulded into the soles, but they did the job, and – let’s face it – no amount of money spent on expensive sporting gear was going to turn my lumbering, shambling frame into the next Chris Waddle.

chriswaddle
No problem with my navy blue parka with fur-lined hood and orange lining, of course. It’s a design classic.

By this stage, the spectre of Conyers school was looming so large over me, that the summer holidays had been pretty much stripped of all their magic. And the fact that the first melancholy signs of Autumn were beginning to peep through the summer’s facade only added to my listlessness. Farmer Robert had ploughed his field, there were green conkers hanging from the trees in the copse, and – as the nights grew gloomier and chillier, my Dad was starting to prod restlessly at the stack of fire-bound logs piled up in the side garden.   

In retrospect, I think each week of the summer holidays tended to take on its own unique flavour…

Week 1: YAY!!! SUMMER HOLIDAYS!!! RUN AROUND!!! PLAY OUTSIDE!!! BIKE RIDES WITH MY MATES YAY!!!!!

Week 2: No need to get too excited, let’s plan our fun a bit more meticulously. Doug, what are you doing tomorrow?

Week 3: Another day off. I think I’ll just stay in and watch Tales Of The Gold Monkey.

Week 4: MAAAAAAAAAM! I’M BOOOOOOOORED!!!!

Week 5: It’s raining. I don’t want any more ice cream. When can I go back to school?

Week 6: How long is it to Christmas?

It was usually, genuinely, around the final week of August that I started typing out Christmas lists for my parents, always incorporating a scattered handful of Doctor Who books, Star Wars figures and assorted plastic tat that I’d seen advertised during the breaks in Dramarama (and that was no doubt piled up in Aisle 63 of Woolco). Cough, cough, hint, splutter, hint hint…

At least, on this particular August morning, I knew that an OFFICIALLY EXCITING THING was due to happen in exactly 24 hours time, but I’ll save the full story of that for tomorrow’s entry…

Anyone know why That’s Life was shown on a Tuesday night? I’m surprised there weren’t riots in the streets…

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