Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 263

Wednesday 19th September 1984

Woke up at 7.40 and got up at 8.10. At 8.35 Doug came and we went to school. First it was double Art, then History. Then it was Maths and at 12.00 I had dinner.

Then we had French, English (I got a merit) and double science. Came home at 3.40 and played football till 6.30, when I did Homework.

At 7.10 I watched Hotline, and at 8.00 I watched Benny Hill. Then I watched Fresh Fields, and at 9.00 I watched Minder. Went to bed at 10.00.

I’m pretty sure it was around this time that our lovely Kate Bush-a-like art teacher Mrs Coleman decided to make full use of Yarm’s autumnal woodland environment and let us loose on the first proper drawing of our secondary school careers. Yes – brace yourself – we had to draw a pine cone!

Naturally, they were provided. They were in a big cardboard box in the corner of the art room, together with those other staples of the modern art world –  uncooked pasta and silver spray paint. Come to think of it, WHO EVER DECIDED that pasta was a perfectly valid medium for artistic expression? It’s food, for crying out loud! I’m guessing that any leftovers from the morning art classes were scooped up into a Hinton’s carrier bag* and thrown into a bubbling vat in the school kitchens by three cackling dinner ladies in pointy black hats…

*Not by the lovely Mrs Cashmore, she was above such debasement of art.

I made a case for drawing my pine cone using the vibrant and exciting new medium of baked beans and Monster Munch, but was sadly overruled…

Anyway, my abiding memory of this lesson was how downright bloody good Stephen Mason’s effort was. Yep, the loveable veteran Levendale grumbler was a fabulously talented artist, and – while the rest of us fiddled about doing wobbly, HB pencil-shaded Still Lives, Mr Mason drew an astonishing Maurice Escher-style landscape with individual pine cone leaves standing upright, dotted around an impossibly complex fractal landscape like tall, wooden monoliths. Mrs Cashmore instantly gave him a merit and he never stopped whistling ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the rest of the morning.   

My history exercise book, on the page dated 19th September, contains a little handwritten paragraph about – yes! – those hardy school perennials The Ancient Egyptians, whose legacy to the world was the provide endless material for 1980s teachers to enthusiastically recycle at least three times in every school year. Did Tutankhuman die in vain? NO! He died so that – 3,307 years later – I could write ‘The Nile Valley was well protected from attack, with deserts to the East and West and steep cataracts to the South’ in a dusty classroom near Middlesbrough.

And then spent the rest of day wandering around with a frown on my face, because my Gran had suffered from cataracts a couple of years earlier, and it was hard to imagine them providing much of a defence against marauding Hittite tribes. Although she lived in Acklam, where marauding Hittite tribes were pretty thin on the ground (especially on a weekend, when they spent all day in the Golden Eagle watching World Of Sport)

I’ve been rummaging around the internet trying to find a bit more information about the Chris Tarrant vehicle ‘Hotline’ (basically a proto-Watchdog, with the post-OTT Tarrant solving viewers problems over a no-doubt RED HOT PHONE). Information seems thin on the ground, but thanks to the immortal TV Cream website for pointing out that all of Tarrant’s helpers for the show were curvaceous young ladies who ferried information around the studio on Starlight Express-inspired roller skates! Sensational stuff. If only Nicky Campbell and Julia Bradbury had thought of this.

(PS Sorry for the lack of genuine schoolbook scans today – my 10-year-old scanner has packed up this morning! I feel like I’ve lost an old friend. I do have an all-in-one printer/scanner thing here already, but I can’t get the bloody thing to work… hopefully I’ll sort it for tomorrow. Could be a long night…)



  Inspector Hector Vector wrote @

Now then young ‘un – was your Gran ever actually set upon by Hittites? Well? No, didn’t think so!
So //summat\\ must’ve saved her from this unpleasant experience. Have a little faith, lad! Don’t be so quick to dismiss.
I hope tha figures out thy scanner, for it’s no fun having modern tools lying there doing nowt.

  bobfischer wrote @

You are, of course, correct, Inspector Vector. Our eternal thanks go out to you and your fellow boys in blue for keeping the suburbs of 1980s Middlesbrough free from the peril of pre-Christian North African tribes. Where would we be without you?

The scanner is now up and running, I’m delighted to say!

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