Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 254

Monday 10th September 1984

I’d just got downstairs when Doug came at 8.30. We walked to school and our first lesson was maths. Then we had history, and had to write up the voyage to punt, and then we had double Rugby.

At 12.00 I had dinner, then we went to French and got our textbooks, and next it was English. After starting an essay on ourselves, and Shelagh Walker being locked in the bogs, we went to Geography, and lastly maths.

Came home at 3.40 and covered some books, and at 5.00 Doug came and we had a muck on. He went and I had tea at 5.30, then I covered most of my books. At 9.00 I watched Kelly Monteith, and I went to bed at 9.30.

Another dreamy morning spent in the musty, dusty domain of Mrs Ansbro, the delightfully dotty history teacher whose eyes would light up with a missionary zeal whenever we discussed Ferdinand Megallan or Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt. Which we did… 25 years ago this morning. When I transcribed the above diary entry ten minutes ago, I had no idea what the ‘voyage to punt’ was, but bless you Mrs Ansbro – you made me write it all down…

history_voyagetopunt
Before we get carried away with this triumph of education, I’d like to point out that the incident I DO remember from this lesson took place outside the classroom, thirty seconds before we were due to begin. As I walked into the room, a grinning Jo Spayne stuck out a cheeky leg and sent me tripping and stumbling across the corridor… where my flailing hands landed on the disturbingly curvaceous body of a ferocious-looking fifth form girl, leaning on Mr Moore’s geography doorframe and chewing Hubba Bubba.

Needless to say, she wasn’t overly impressed, and I was instantly cracked over the head with a weighty O-Level Chemistry textbook and sent on my way. This terrifying encounter was completely soundtracked by the girl’s friend, peering out from beneath a gigantic burgundy fringe and singing (in a broad Teesside accent) Miami Sound Machine’s contemporary chart hit, Dr Beat…

Good to see our lovely form tutor (and French teacher) Miss Wilson dishing out the legendary Tricolore textbooks as well! A series of brightly-coloured A4 slabs whose main action (‘Ou est la gare?’) took place exclusively in the little fishing port of La Rochelle.

For years, I thought that La Rochelle was a fictional place, the French textbook equivalant of a quintessentially English village called Bobbly-on-the-Wold, or somesuch. I think I was about 14 before I discovered that it actually existed. Et, voila! La gare de La Rochelle…

lagare
Our English teacher for the year was Mrs Macdonald, a briskly eccentric disciplinarian with a mane of frizzy red hair and an enormous pair of gigantic red-framed spectacles that might as well have had ‘LOOK!!! THIS IS 1984!!!!’ daubed across the lenses in Tippex. In all my 14 years of school education, I was never let down by an English teacher, and Mrs Macdonald was no exception. I liked her a lot.

(Although, for my money, she could have left Shelagh Walker locked in the bogs for a bit longer. Shelagh was a constantly-outspoken Scottish girl who once actually beat me in an arm-wrestling competition. We got on well, but a bit of solitary confinement wouldn’t have done her any harm)

The ‘essay on ourselves’ was, I guess, Mrs Macdonald’s way of easing us gently into the world of creative literature, and – terrifyingly – my effort is still present and correct at the front of my bright red English exercise book.

10th SEPTEMBER 1984
MYSELF

My full name is Robert Fischer, and as you can see, I have no middle names, which I suppose is pretty handy if I ever have to write my name in a small space.

I was born nearly twelve years ago on 15th November 1972 in Parkside Hospital, which is in one of the twisting, maze-like streets of Middlesbrough.

I haven’t got any brothers or sisters, but I do have two collie dogs. One of them is stupid and has a bark like a poodle being throttled. The other one is slightly aggresive and bites anything that moves.

I’m about average height, and pretty thin. My face, says mum, is exactly like my dad’s. If that’s true, then it’s not the only coincidence, for our birthday’s are on the same date too.

I’ve got quite a pale complexion and as I have rather a high fringe to my dark brown hair (which my mum reckons has grown considerably darker over the last couple of years) you can see that I have quite a few freckles on my forehead.

I have narrow, brown eyes and a small slightly snub nose. Protruding from my upper gum are two fang-like teeth that make me look like some kind of Vampire when I smile.

I don’t really have any habits (Well, dad complains at me for whistling, but despite what he says, I don’t do it all that often)

Talking of dad, he’s got a terrific face (he must have if it’s like mine) and even when he isn’t building for someone else, he’s still busy because we can’t go six months without dad knocking down one of our walls, building us another, rearranging the kitchen etc.

I’m usually found at either Kirklevington, Yarm record shop or Conyers school, and most of them time I’m with Douglas Simpson, my classmate and friend.

I have countless hobbies, but my two favourites are eating and sleeping. I also like making models, and I am what you might call a ‘Doctor Who’ addict. I haven’t missed an episode in five years and I went to Blackpool in the summer just to see the ‘Dr Who’ exhibition.

I said before that I liked eating, but my favourite foods are prawn cocktail flavour crisps and plumbs. I could live on them.

I am usually found wearing a red football top and jeans. That’s when I’m out of school uniform of course, which I don’t mind at all.

I think that Frankies Goes To Hollywood is the best best thing around, and that the Young Ones is one of the best comedy shows on TV.

Well, that’s all there is to me, except that I would like to say a word to Ian Mcgregor. **** off!

english_aboutme
Crikey, a little bit of politics there! Ian MacGregor was the chairman of the National Coal Board, branded ‘the American butcher of British industry’ by Arthur Scargill. Bear in mind that September 1984 was slap-bang in the middle of the bleak, windswept, year-long miners’ strike, and – by the age of 11 – I was a keen follower of current affairs and fancied myself as a bit of a teeny, left-wing firebrand. Mrs Macdonald had encouraged us to ‘write a bit about any political feelings you have’, so I’d gone for it bigstyle. Deftly sidestepping her accompanying theory that ‘swearing is the sign of a poor vocabulary’ (which I disagree with… it’s the perfect f***ing accompaniment to an extensively verbose f***ing personal f***ing lexicon)

Anyway, she crossed out my expletive deleted in red Biro, while remaining largely positive about my work as a whole. ‘8/10 Merit. Lively work, accurately written. See me about your style, which is too conversational’.

Is it? I don’t think it is. I think it’s fine. And I’ve had a book published, so I win (insert winking smily thing). Good to see an acknowledgement of my spiralling ‘plumb’ addiction as well.

And Kelly Monteith! Wise-cracking, square-jawed American stand-up comedian who became the BBC’s poster boy for sly, observational comedy for most of the early 1980s before vanishing completely. Presumably back to America. I’ve only very vague memories of his BBC1 shows – was it pretty much a sketch show with a few bits of linking stand-up? Possibly presented from a mock-up of Kelly’s pastel-shaded flat? I used to watch it quite a lot on my black-and-white portable bedroom TV after official ‘lights out’, but I probably had my nose stuck into a Doctor Who book at the time.

I can’t find anything on Youtube, but Kelly has put a few clips on his own website – I actually really like these!

http://www.kellymonteith.com/BBC_Series.html

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7 Comments»

  PJE_UK wrote @

Re: Kelly Monteith. I can tell you what he was doing on Thursday June 4th 2009. Boring the audience at the “All Star Cabaret Show” on RCCL Brilliance of the Seas on the high seas between France and Italy.

His wry observational style of comedy circa 1983 was still in evidence which was appropriate as most of his material could be similarly carbon dated.

The following night we got a trumpet playing bloke who allegedly had been on the Benny Hill Show, such was the paucity of the “star” turns.

Paul Edwards is 37 years old, married and has holidayed on a cruise liner.

  David Brunt wrote @

Monteith was on BBC2, always at 9pm but meandering through the week on subsequent series.

It was centred on Monteith and his wife in their beige flat, with monologues and short sketches branching off the topic of the week. Rather like “Hark at Barker”.

The wife vanished in later seasons to become a more stand-up and sketch format.

  Mark Hirst wrote @

This blog is becoming far too coversational.

See Me

  Mark Hirst wrote @

Did you spot the deliberate spelling mistake, if not, pay more attention!

  David Brunt wrote @

It was well hidden, very covert…

  bobfischer wrote @

Thanks for the Kelly Monteith updates! I’d actually like to see his live show, ESPECIALLY if it’s still strikingly reminiscent of his 1983 material. I know a few local comedy promoters, I’ll see what we can put together. I’m sure there’s nothing he’d like more than a one-night stand in Middlesbrough Town Hall crypt in the middle of February.

C-, Mr H. See me. 🙂

  Justin wrote @

La Rochelle fictional? Did you not watch the Athos, Porthos, aramis and D’Artagnan taking breakfast on the castle battlements in The Four Musketeers?


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