Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 243

Thursday 30th August 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.00. I rang Doug but he was out so I put up my Master poster and went out till 12.00 when I had dinner. After that I painted my bookcase blue and then played football till the paint dried, and I did a second coat.

At 4.00 I had tea, then I started to sort my bedroom out. When I got sick I went out and played football till 7.00, when I watched Encounters with animals. At 7.50 I watched Top of the pops, and at 8.25 I watched The paras. Went to bed at 9.00.

Five days away from a fresh start at a new school, and I decided to get my house in order. Or, at least, the little fetid corner of the house that was filled with comics, books, half-eaten Penguin biscuits and assorted Doctor Who ephemera. In short… my bedroom. Soon, for the first time in my life, I’d be expected to bring some of my school work home (work… home… home… work? Homework? Was that what it was called?) so clearly it was essential that my bedroom was a tidy, efficient, stripped-back office space for the latter part of the 20th century.

So I shoved all the shite under the bed and painted the bookcase where my Doctor Who stuff was kept. Ha!

(Incidentally, the above advert was invariably sung along to in our house with the slightly amended lyric ‘P-pick up a Penguin… a bloody great Penguin…)

Anyway, my bookcase. I have absolutely no idea where this sturdy, hand-built-looking bit of furniture ever came from, but it’s been a faithful retainer and companion for pretty much all of my life. For most of my childhood, it was a kind of streaky, off-white colour, and contained my entire book collection – from ‘The Invisible Womble and Other Stories’ by Elisabeth Bereford to the latest Fighting Fantasy books. In recent years, though, my ever-expanding collection of Doctor Who Target Novelisations had started to ruthlessly invade the shelf space, seeking TV Tie-In liebensraum and relegating the Wombles to a filthy ghetto down the side of the wardrobe.

I’d decided the bookcase needing freshening up a little, and that the recent redecoration of the bathroom provided the ideal opportunity. That’s right – I slapped a load of electric blue matt silk from our bathroom walls over this priceless artefact of family history. And, amazingly, it stayed there until 2000, when I finally snapped and repainted the thing bright yellow in the musty garage of a house I was renting on the other side of Yarm.

I’m delighted to say that my trusty bookcase is still seeing active service, and is currently resident in our front room, filled with Doctor Who and X-Files DVDs…

(NB At the very top of the case, near the right-hand edge, you can see where a tiny piece of yellow paint has flaked off to reveal some vintage 1984 blue beneth it!)

Anyway, it’s good to see that at the utterly boring fag-end of the school summer holidays, I spent a tiny part of it literally watching paint dry! And, even better, a small portion of the following day was spent pulling teeth. No, really… stay tuned…

Righty ho, Top Of The Pops…

• Bucks Fizz – Talking In Your Sleep [Performance]
• Depeche Mode – Master and Servant [Performance]
• George Michael – Careless Whisper [Promo Video]
• Howard Jones – Like To Get To Know You Well [Performance]
• Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You [Promo Video]
• Tears For Fears – Mothers Talk [Performance]
• The Smiths – William It Was Really Nothing [Performance]

Weirdly, this edition seems to have been a rare four-man job, with the terrifying mob-handed quartet of Jimmy Saville, Simon Bates, Mike Smith and Richard Skinner all sharing presenting duties. I can only assume there’d been some ‘bother’ (or, to use the Teesside vernacular, ‘chew’) on a recent programme, and that the heavyweight bruisers that were Bates and Saville had been brought in to keep muscular order.

Let’s face it, on a programme where Morrissey was sharing tense, pre-show dressing room space with Cheryl Baker, it could literally have KICKED OFF AT ANY TIME.

Actually, I can now distinctly remember watching this edition, as I think this was The Smiths performance when The Great Man – on reaching the line ‘Would you like to marry me?’ tore open his chiffon blouson to reveal the words ‘MARRY ME’ written in permanent marker on his bare chest. In fact, I think this is it…

Notice the fantastically inappropriate pink party balloon being bobbed around the ‘Pops studio audience at the beginning of that clip! I still wasn’t quite convinced by The Smiths, but Morrissey was beginning to chip away at my psyche with brilliant antics like this, and – over the course of the next seven years – I’d fall hopelessly in love with the band. By which time they’d been, gone, done and released solo albums, but I’ve never been one to rush headlong into romantic encounters.

Unless it was this song, in which case I considered it one of the most gorgeous and heartfelt declarations of love I’d ever heard in my life…

There’s absolutely no other song that transports me to the dying embers of Summer 1984 than this weird little number. It was EVERYWHERE, and just hearing it now fills me with a combination of home-made plum juice lollies (more of those later), woodsmoke, bramble pie and the gathering stormclouds of the switch to Conyers school.  Who was it said that it’s extraordinary how potent cheap music can be?

Ah, that’s right, it was Richard Skinner. While Bates and Saville duffed up Dave Gahan and Mike Nolan for trying to sneak out the back door for a cheeky ciggie.


  Fiona Tims wrote @

Nooooo I hate that Stevie Wonder song! It’s so insipid!

  bobfischer wrote @

It’s from The Woman In Red, isn’t it – the Gene Wilder film? One of those films that seemed to get absolutely stacks of media coverage without actually being any good at all.

And was there ever a more 1980s-sounding name than Kelly Le Brock?

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