Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 256

Wednesday 12th September 1984

Woke up at 7.30 and got up at 8.15. Doug came at 8.45 and we went to school. First we had double art, then there was no history teacher so we did more art. Next came maths, then at 12.00 I had dinner.

After that we had French, English and double science (I got a merit). Came home at 3.40 and played out till tea at 5.00. At 5.30 I watched The Good Life, then I played out till 7.10, when I watched Hot Line.

At 8.00 I watched Benny Hill, and at 8.30 I watched Fresh fields. At 9.00 I watched Minder, and at 10.00 I went to  bed.

Oooh, I wonder what happened to poor Mrs Ansbro on this fateful morning? She probably got herself all a-fluster reading about Vasco Da Gama and had to lie down in the staff room for a while. With a stiff gin and tonic and a Zantac. I do have vague memories of some sniffing, arse-scratching sixth form emmisary being sent into our art class with five minutes to go and mumblin’ sumfink incomprehensible to the divine, Kate Bush-a-like Mrs Cashmore.

‘Try not to get too overexcited, but you’re staying with me for an extra lesson…’ she smiled, saucily. I retrieved my propelling pencil from my blazer pocket with a flamboyant flourish and got straight down to drawing a fresh series of straight lines with my Shatterproof ruler (no idea why… we just seemed to draw a lot of straight lines in those early weeks)

Was it just me that took a little bit of solace from Wednesday dinnertimes? Long, long, long before my Conyers days had started, I’d worked out that Wednesday dinnertime was the exact mid-way point of the school week, so the second I took my gravy and semolina-splattered tray over to the slop bucket, I was already winding down towards the weekend. This particular Wednesday dinnertime was livened up by a gangly fourth-former with a blumfluff moustache, who slammed a mountain of Close Encounters-style mashed potato onto our table and told us the following joke…

(NB Disclaimer… it’s a rude joke. Pensioners, small children and disciples of Mary Whitehouse, turn off your computers NOW)

There were three lads at the park, and a bloke with a knife came up to them and said ‘If your willies don’t measure eight inches between them, I’m going to cut them all off’. 

So the first lad got his willy out, and it measured four inches. The bloke made a note of this. Then the second lad got his willy out, and his measured three inches. The bloke made a note of this.

Then the third lad got his willy out, and it was absolutely tiny. The bloke measured it with his ruler, and it was exactly one inch long. ‘That’s eight inches in total,’ said the bloke. ‘You’re safe, lads. I won’t cut your willies off’.

The lads all breathed sigh of relief. ‘Good job I had a four-inch willy,’ said the first one.

‘Good job I had a three-inch willy’, said the second one. 

The lad with the tiny willy looked a bit embarrassed and said ‘Good job I had a hard-on’. 

Come on, we were 11. We laughed solidly for about forty minutes, and Robert Graham snorted Kia-Ora down his nose.

Our English lesson seems to have been an exercise in poetry analysis, and – given our already volatile state – I can only imagine the carnage that the first extract caused amongst the boys in the classroom…

Out of the night, two cocks together crow
Cleaving the darkness like a silver blow
(‘Cock-crow’, Edward Thomas)

I think, 25 years on, Stephen Mason is still sitting at the back of the classroom, banging the desk with his open palm while hysterical tears stream down his face. To be fair to the well-meaning Mrs Macdonald (who rolled her eyes and said ‘For goodness’ sake’ quite a lot during this lesson), we also studied The Jumblies by the brilliant Edward Lear, specifically this gorgeous couplet…

They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong…

‘I think this poem is good because it gives a sort of dreamy effect and that, I think, somehow emphasises the sound of the coppery gong’ I scribbled, entirely proud of myself. And then was completely usurped by a dark-haired girl called Alexandra, who wrote the most glorious, evocative half-page of surrealism based on the above two lines – all about ‘pot-bellied hobbits sitting on clouds’. Mrs Macdonald read it out to the rest of us, and it was glorious. I can’t remember her surname at all, though – anyone?

Meanwhile, in Mr Warren’s science lesson, we were still faffing around with Bunsen Burners…


I’ve got this lodged at the back of my head for some reason, but is it true that modern-day teachers are forbidden to use red Biro on kids’ work these days? Or is that an urban myth? It’d be a shame to lose this fine tradition, as I always imagined that all of my teachers wrote EVERYTHING in red Biro, from cheques to job applications to notes for the milkman. I’ve had to add a software attachment to this very website to convert Mr Hirst’s blog comments to black text whenever he posts.

And what a fine selection of 1980s TV! I have very dim and distant memories of watching The Good Life on weekday teatime… was this part of a full run? It was a programme that I thought I’d never seen before, until I heard the theme music – at which point my 11-year-old self went giddy with nostalgia, and I was transported back to some incredibly vague and fuzzy memories from my very early childhood.   

And go on, I admit defeat. What’s ‘Hot Line’ at 7.10pm? It sounds like it might be a That’s Life/Watchdog style consumer thing, but Google has failed me. Heeeeeeeelp! 

PS I’ve celebrated the release of the new Beatles remasters by hiding the title of one of my favourite Beatles songs in the above blog entry. There’s a cyber-hug for the first person to spot it. (NB I’ll narrow the field by stating unequivocably that it ISN’T ‘Good Job I Had A Four-Inch Willy’. That’s on one of Ringo’s early solo albums)



  Doctor Giles Parcel wrote @

Is the song Heeeeeeeelp! ?

If we can Get Back to your schoolwork, however, there is Something I am disappointed to see: that in the science classes of Yesterday, eleven year olds were not required to note down an hypothesis before detailing their method. This strikes me as lax.
Fortunately I believe It’s Getting Better and that modern children are correctly schooled in the scientific method. – the 2% who still choose to study the sciences, of course. I Should Have Known Better than to expect a genuine improvement.

  Patsy wrote @

Is it ‘Long long long’ from White Album ?

Definitely no red biros allowed any moer !

  bobfischer wrote @

Didn’t notice Heeeeeelp… *blushes*

Dr Parcel, If I Needed Someone to help me with scentific method, then I’ll Get You. Although I’d rather go with Mr Warren’s old maxim – ‘Think For Yourself’. Still, Tomorrow (13th September) Never Knows…

Erm, Glass Onion.

  bobfischer wrote @

Patsy, come here for your cyber-hug… mmmgh! 🙂

  David Brunt wrote @

“Hotllne” was the first episode of a live phone-in show from Manchester with Chris Tarrant and Mary Parkinson. “television’s first personal column”. Managed six episodes, then to vanish into obscurity.

The Good Life repeats started the week before and ran into 1986.

  Chris Orton wrote @

We had our work marked in either red or green biro by the teachers I think. As a consequence of this policy we were only allowed to use blue or black ink. I preferred black ink as everybody else used blue, which is a policy that I continue to apply to this very day for some reason.

Bizarre, but I just don’t like the look of blue ink.

  Patsy wrote @

Ooh, I really, really enjoyed that hug, ta 😉 Just love that song, George was my hero.

  Chris Byers wrote @

I think the name your looking for is Alexandra Bennett, but I am not hundred percent on that. I think she left in our first year.

  bobfischer wrote @

David – thanks for the info, as always. Although I can’t even begin to imagine how fraught and distressing life has to become before you consider emotional seeking advice from Chris Tarrant.

Chris O – oddly enough, I always write in blue Biro, and that’s something that comes directly from my school days again. Inexplicable, but yep – I just liked the look of it. Sad to think that the traditional teachers’ red ink has now gone by the wayside, though… it wasn’t all negative, I had some lovely things written about my work in red handwriting!

Patsy – yeah, George was always the coolest Beatle. With the best legs by a country mile. 😉

Chris B – you have an amazing memory for details! Yeah, I’m sure it was Alexandra Bennett. And no, I don’t remember her being around after first year, either. A little dark-haired girl wth a fabulous talent for writing, as I remember… I was always really jealous of her stuff. Heaven only knows where she is now, but I hope she’s still scribbling away somewhere.

  Ian Farrage wrote @

Am I wrong with thinking this was “Ali” Bennett, sister of “Tasha” who both left to go to the brown knickers & uniforms of Teesside High ? As far as I recall they were both very lady like girls, way too good for Conyers anyway.

  bobfischer wrote @

Yep, that’s her! And you’re right, she did well to get away. We’d only have dragged her down to our level.

  Mark Hirst wrote @

Not allowed to mark in red ink? Urban myth I’m afraid. I love it! There’s no legislation banning it and no good reason to do so, in my opinion. No doubt the Evening Gazette will ring me up for a pithy quote sometime.

That said, a lot of the `new breed` of teacher prefer not to use red as it apparently can be interpreted as `aggressive`.

How writing “Excellent work!” in red ink can be deemed `aggressive` I don’t know?
It’s a big bright celebration of achievement!!

Similarly, “Fischer, I have never read such shite!” scrawled at the bottom of a piece of work, carries far less impact if written in `calming` green.

Call me `old school` but it’s red all the way for me!

  bobfischer wrote @

Delighted to hear it, Mr H! And ‘calming green’??!?!? What madness is this? There should be nothing calming about anybody’s schooldays. They should be a relentless fourteen-year assault of terror, mental intimidation, snot, early morning rugby and being dangled off the edge of waterfalls.

That’s what made me the man I am today. *twitch*

  Mark Hirst wrote @

Well said Bob! Glad you kept your head down and learnt something.

Imagine if we’d singled you out for special treatment though? Your formative years wouldn’t have been such a hedonistic jaunt!

(Looking back though, I might have moderated the waterfall stunt and made it exclusive to the likes of Slack, Mason and Herbert.)

  bobfischer wrote @

I learnt that, and the word ‘Meniscus’. Not bad for fourteen years of schooling.

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