Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 257

Thursday 13th September 1984

Doug came at 8.40 and we went to school. First it was double science, then music. After that we had Geography, and at 12.00 I had dinner. Then we had DT and after that, RE. Lastly it was history and, after answering a quiz on the school, I came home at 3.40.

I read a library book till 5.30, when I watched Grange Hill, and at 6.00 I had tea. Then I played out till Top of the Pops at 7.00. At 7.30 I watched Kenny Everett, and at 8.00 I watched The Magnificent Evans.

At 8.30 I watched Duty Free, then at 9.00 I went to bed to read my Doctor Who Magazine.

Time for a proper word about DT, I think. Or, as we were duty-bound to refer to it in official circles, CDT – ‘Craft, Design and Technology’. Our teacher was the twinkly-eyed Mr Hendry, a gigantic, bearded Pennine of a man with a passion for Gilbert and Sullivan that led him to perform a sensational version of ‘A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One’ at our school’s 1989 musical revue.

(I took a starring role in a very Morecambe and Wise-esque intepretation of ‘There Is Nothin’ Like A Dame’, and got to do the ‘There is absolutely nothing like the fraaaaaaame…. oooof aaaa daaaaame….’ bit at the end, in my best wobbly teenage basso profundo. With legendary drama teacher Eric Harrison – complete with knotted hanky on the head – also in the cast, together with Scott Doran, now the lead singer of respected London electro-pop trio Eskimo Disco)

Anyway, amazingly, 25 years ago today, we seem to have been given the rudiments of some early 1980s Health and Safety precautions….! 

So there you go… half an hour writing down a few simple guidelines in our exercise books, and it was now perfectly safe to allow thirty 11-year-olds loose on a selection of industrial lathes and soldering irons. No, really. I seem to recall our project in this first term was to make a plastic keyring using a selection of growling, steaming, white-hot machines, each with the capability to reduce the averate pre-pubescant boy to a small mound of diced, blood-stained flesh…

(…which, naturally, would be swiftly delivered to the school kitchen with a brief apologetic note despached to grieving parents)

Good to see Mrs Ansbro back for our late-afternoon history lesson, as well. Single-period lessons at the end of the day ALWAYS had something of a ‘demob happy’ feel to them… they began at 3.05pm, and we knew full well that the final bell for the end of school would ring at 3.40pm (‘SIT DOWN!!! THAT’S A SIGNAL FOR ME, NOT FOR YOU!!!!’)

As such, I think there was a tacit agreement between teachers and pupils that not a lot of serious, head-down study was ever going to be achieved during this period. We were dreaming of post-school kickabouts and Top of the Pops, they were dreaming of a John Player Special in the car on the way home and a nice cup of Maxwell House in front of Gardener’s World.

As such, we did a quiz! On the history of Conyers School!

1. In which year was Conyers School founded? (Clue: Look on the badge on your blazer)
2. At this time, what were the two main areas of industry in Yarm? (Clue: Look on the badge on your blazer)
3. What is the school’s official Latin motto? (Clue: Look on the badge on your blazer)


A late tea tonight as well (my Dad must have found gainful employment for a while – he was still attempting to run his own building business in 1984, but seemed to have long spells of unemployment… just like 75.3% of the rest of the country, YEAH KIDS???), which gave me time to drink in a bit of Grange Hill.

(Presumably a repeat of the series from earlier in the year, as there were no new Grange Hill episodes until February 1985. Which deprives me of the chance to write about my undying, adolescent love for Calley Donnington, but it’s probably for the best…)

And Top Of The Pops… with Dave Lee Travis and Bruno Brookes doing the dubious honours between top turns from this horrible lot…

• Aztec Camera – All I Need Is Everything [Performance]
• Depeche Mode – Master & Servant [Performance]
• OMD – Tesla Girls [Performance]
• Ray Parker Jnr – Ghostbusters [Promo Video]
• Shakin Stevens – A Letter To You [Performance]
• Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You [Promo Video]
• U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love) [Promo Video]

The above clip brings to mind a weird aspect of Top Of The Pops that I’d completely forgotten. Am I right in thinking that the Top 40 countdown (‘And STEAMING into the charts at NUMBER SEVEN, it’s OMD, on their lovely LOCOMOTION… toot toot!’) always stopped at No 11, at which point we’d have a performance (or video) of that song, whatever it was? A bit of a risky tactic that, what happened if there was something irredeemably and offensively shite at No 11 that week? St Winifred’s School Choir, or – even worse – U2?

Anyway, I’ve also just remembered hearing ‘Master and Servant’ for the first time at Youth Club two nights earlier, while queuing at the tuck counter to buy a Wham Bar. It struck me as one of the strangest songs I’d ever heard. ‘Let’s play Master and Servant? Who’d want to play THAT? You’d never find anyone who wanted to be the servant. That’s MENTAL!’

I dread to think how Dave Lee Travis and Bruno Brookes introduced it.



  Kim Tesseract wrote @

I am sure that Dave (or is it Dave Lee?) would have been the ‘master’ and Bruno the ‘servant’.
Having three names and a beard is pure Master territory if you ask me, while servants tend to have two identical initials, a bit like some pets do.
I had forgotten the ‘Legs 11’ slot too. It would have made more sense to play whatever was at No. 10 because it was a Top Ten record. You still ran the danger of it being rubbish of course and indeed it often was. One week I remember it being ‘Clare and Friends’ but I think that was a different year.

  David Brunt wrote @

The “stop at number 11” didn’t always guarantee that #11 would get shown.

If the song at #11 was riding down the chart it was just as likely to have “and this week at number 15 a new entry of Keith Harris and Orville…”

  bobfischer wrote @

You’re right as ever, Mr B… it all comes back to me now. ‘At No 11, it’s Bucks Fizz, with My Camera Never Lies, but now let’s go back to No 17… and performing live in the studio, it’s Joan Jett… and she LOVES Rock And Roll…’

And Claire and Friends! Fantastic. She won a Saturday Superstore talent show, didn’t she? ‘It’s Orrible Being In Love When You’re Eight And A Half’… it was in the charts in the summer of 1986 and soundtracked the week’s holiday that I took at PGL Outward Bound centre in the Lake District, with Alistair Burton, Marc Thompson, Jon ‘Nobby’ Haworth (and his brother Wiggy) and Ian Farrage.

Written by Brian & Michael of ‘Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs’ fame. POP FACT.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Haha oh my-I’d forgotten all about Claire and Friends. I prob have it on video somewhere, because I think she may have been on Saturday superstore at the same time as A-HA and I taped everything they were on!

  bobfischer wrote @

Fill your boots… 🙂

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Awwww 80’s novelty songs. You can’t beat them haha!

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