Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 261

Monday 17th September 1984

Woke up at 7.30 and got up at 8.00. At 8.35 Doug came and we went to school. First it was maths, which I went to after being begged to play an instrument. We started a decimals sheet.

Then it was History, and next we had double rugby. At 12.00 I had dinner, then it was French, and English. After that we had Geography, then Maths again.

I came home at 3.40 and at 5.00 I had tea. Then I did homework till 7.00 when I went out, and at 8.30 I watched Chance in a million. At 9.00 I watched Kelly Monteith, and at 9.30 I went to bed.

My musical career started here!!! Or, rather, it didn’t. At the end of our form period with Miss Wilson (during which we were going through a phase of comedy responses to our names during register call-out… ‘Oui’, ‘Aye’ and an exaggerated, ‘Yeeees, Missss Wilsssson’) I was summoned, rather ominously, to the music department.

schoolorchestra

When I arrived there, the Beige Princess Mrs Usher was strapping on a pair of knuckledusters and garrotting a passing third former with a viola string.

‘I’ve been looking at the results of your listening test,’ she beamed. ‘They’re very impressive. We’d love you to take up an instrument if you’re interested?’

A wave of cold, limb-numbing terror washed over me. ‘No, it’s OK, thanks…’ I mumbled, staring at intently at my mud-splattered plastic shoes.

‘Are you sure? You’ve clearly got a very good ear…’

I shook my head silently and shuffled back to maths. As far as I was concerned, musical instruments were the preserve of the posh kids who spent their weekends shampooing ponies and reading Charlotte Bronte, and I wanted no part of it. I could also imagine the look on my Dad’s face when I raced home to proudly tell him that I’d taken up the Helical Tuba, and he’d need to shell out £350 on the latest model. Plus a further £75 for the case. 

I suspect the phrase ‘Can’t you take up the bloody paper and comb? We’ve got both of those in the middle drawer of the sideboard’ would have been employed with some justification.

‘What did Mrs Usher, Drug Pusher want?’ asked Ian Farrage, as I slinked into the maths class.

‘She said I had a very good ear,’ I replied.

‘Not for much longer you don’t’, said Jo Spayne, and attempted to remove it with a sawn-off protractor. I clawed back a little bit of credibility by blowing a succession of thunderous raspberries into the ether as our class settled down into their chairs amidst a cacophany of screeching and clattering.    

protractor 
‘Who on EARTH is making that dreadful noise?’ boomed Mr Rolfe, the ambulance-driving maths teacher with the beard now CONFIRMED (by Ian Griffiths’ next-door-neighbour’s brother’s girlfriend’s auntie) to have been grown to hide a chin-spanning spiders’ web tattoo.

I stopped in mid-raspberry and looked guiltily out of the window. Mr Rolfe frogmarched me out of the classroom and told me in no uncertain terms that I’d be receiving an ‘order mark’ (the anti-merit) if I made such a noise in his class again. I slinked back in with a smug, chop-spanning smirk as he blew his own raspberry at my back, much to the amusement of the rest of the class. His was rubbish, though. I was the raspberrytollah.

Here are a few of my post-rasberry decimals, spread over two lessons at either end of the day, 25 years ago today…

maths
I can’t make head nor tail of any of this, but I can tell you that – during our second period of maths at the demob happy time of 3.05pm – I was completely unable to get the Adam Ant song ‘Apollo 9’ out of my head. I’d been singing it all day, and the madness had reached a crescendo. A yabba yabba ding-ding…

I never got on with maths, and those late afternoon single periods became very much a time for melancholy reflection while staring across the school courtyard from my table next to the window. Watching a pale Autumnal sun skulking behind the tennis courts and counting the encrusted bogies on the utilitarian steel grey window frame. Eking away my childhood and dreaming of better things.

geographydurham
The only other piece of written work I can find from this day comes from our Geography class (above), where the fluffy-sheep-jumper-wearing Mr Flynn had now taken to occasionally calling me ‘Groucho’, presumably in reference to the strange, loping, head-bowed walk that blighted my pre-adolescent years.

‘Have you ever seen any Marx  Brothers films?’ he asked genially, as I scribbled my drawing of medieval Durham. I shook my head in puzzled silence. ‘Ask your Dad about them,’ he smiled. ‘They’re marvellous’. So I did. And they are. Thankyou Mr Flynn (and Dad)

And ‘Chance In A Million’! One of the great lost sitcoms. No DVD release, barely a repeat, but it was bloody great… thespian heavyweights Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn romping gleefully through a witty, hilarious and downright surreal sitcom about the titular Tom Chance, the forthright, staccato-speaking nutcase whose life is dogged by outrageous coincidence.

I loved it, and so my Dad, whose voracious appetite for new comedy remains unquenched to this day. Who do we both write to for a DVD release?

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3 Comments»

  Doctor Giles Parcel wrote @

Chance In A Million was made for Channel 4 by Thames, so Network could be considered your first DVD company worth contacting as I believe they have ‘first refusal’ for the time being. I expect Acorn would love to get the chance to release it in the USA where its stars would guarantee decent sales.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Your story about being told off for blowing raspberries, had me laughing, a LOT!

“‘Who on EARTH is making that dreadful noise?’”
This cracks me up for some weird reason. Chuckle, Chuckle…….

  bobfischer wrote @

I was terrified of the prospect of going home and showing my parents my first ever order mark with ‘Reason for Order Mark: Blowing raspberries in class’ written next to it in Mr Rolfe’s spidery handwriting.

The order for the Christmas ZX Spectrum would have been cancelled on the spot.


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