Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 264

Thursday 20th September 1984

Woke up at 7.45 and got up at 8.20. At 8.35 Doug came and we went to school. First we had double science and watched A safety film, then it was music. Next was Geography, and at 12.00 I had dinner.

Then we had DT and RE. Lastly it was history and at 3.40 I came home and played out till 5.30 when I watched Grange Hill. Then I went out till Tommorrow’s world at 7.00.

At 7.30 I watched Top of the Pops, at 8.00 I watched The Magnificent Evans, and at 8.30 I watched Duty Free. At 9.00 I watched A Kick up the eighties, and at 9.25 I went to bed.

What’s this?!?? A safety film? In Double Science???!? We’d been at Conyers school for over a fortnight, surely if anything was going to go wrong in the laboratory, it would have happened by now. My memories of this are fuzzy, which suggests either…

a) It was really gory and gruesome, with endless shots of Bunsen Burners exploding in innocent faces and magnesium ribbon blazing out of control on school jumpers, in which case I’d have spent the lesson watching it fleetingly through my fingers, or…

b) It was really boring and dreary, in which case I’d have spent the lesson watching Debbie Jarvis through my fingers. 

Whichever was the case, it will undoubtedly have looked a little like this…

Still, there was really no need to worry about health and safety in the laboratory, because we had – thanks to Mrs Mainwaring-Taylor in the RE department – a little bit of luck on our side…

I should point out that the drawings I did in my exercise book exactly 25 years ago today are not, repeat NOT to scale. We don’t have giant, radioactive clover and ladybirds the size of horsehoes roaming wild around the fields of Yarm. Although I did once see a rat the size of a Yorkshire Terrier disappearing into the bushes on the outskirts of Teesside Park retail estate.

Good to see the word ‘fetish’ being introduced to our religious education as well, albeit slightly removed from its more familiar context in the News of the World, where it was almost always prefixed with the words ‘kinky’ and ‘Tory MP’s’. 

And another cheeky jolly down the River Nile in Mrs Ansbro’s charmingly light-hearted history lesson…

Good to see the Aswan Dam given a prominent place on the map, and I seem to remember spending the rest of this lesson silently pondering on whether ‘Aswan’ was the name of the titular big cat in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (and, if so, how had the Ancient Egyptians managed to read it?)

Still, good to see my interest in science continuing into Tomorrow’s World…

The first few seconds of this theme tune never fail to make me think that Holly Johnson is about to start hollering ‘Ow Ow Owwwww’ over the top. And I was never keen on the computerised ‘brain’ footage during the title sequence, which would always put me off the packet of Monster Munch I invariably had in my hand by 7pm. I’ve always been appallingly squeamish when it comes to watching stuff while I’m eating. I was once put off pork pies for years because I was eating one when a documentary on Tollund Man popped up on TV.

Anyway, I’ll do my BBC duty and point out that eleven full episodes of Tomorrow’s World are now available to watch for free in the BBC Archive Online! Check out Kieran Prendiville playing snooker against a robot in the 1981 edition, it’s a bloody sensation.

And quite a nice little mixed bag on Top of the Pops, with Steve Wright and Andy Peebles doing the dubious honours…

• Adam Ant – Apollo 9 [Performance]
• Bronski Beat – Why [Performance]
• David Bowie – Blue Jean [Promo Video]
• Level 42 – Hot Water [Performance]
• Nik Kershaw – Human Racing [Performance]
• Queen – Hammer To Fall [Promo Video]
• Sister Sledge – Lost In Music [Performance]
• Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You [Promo Video]

The most famous thumb of the 1980s! (Along with Ford Prefect’s…) Incidentally, I’d always assumed that Level 42 took their name from a sign on the drivers’ cabin on Cleveland Transit buses that stated ‘BUS CAPACITY: LOWER LEVEL 34, UPPER LEVEL 42’. But apparently it IS indeed an homage to the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Which seems a bit disappointing, as I liked the idea of Mark King receiving his flash of inspiration on the 13A bus from All Saints Church to Acklam shops.

And I think this was the final series of ‘A Kick Up The Eighties’, with a post-Young Ones Rik Mayall still just about clinging on as hapless investigative reporter Kevin Turvey…



  Chris Orton wrote @

“Aswan” is, of course, the name of that reggae band.

I remember two safety films being shown to us whilst at school – neither of which were to do with being in school itself. One involved a boy being horribly electrocuted after he strayed onto the railway lines for some reason, while the other was that one where the boy lost his kite (or frisbee, I can’t remember which) after it went over into an electricity sub-station. The fool only went and climbed a pylon to try and get it back didn’t he? Cut to a scene of a smoking boy lying on the grass at the foot of the pylon. I liked to think that the person who devised this particular safety film had been inspired by the end of Logopolis, but I bet that he hadn’t.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ooh, classic stuff! We were certainly shown both of those gruesome safety films at Levendale Primary School – and I think there were even presented to us by a bona fide Cleveland Constabulary policeman, who popped up in our hall to give us a sterling hours worth of ‘Ello, ello, ello…’ and vintage knee-bending.

He also clamped legendary Stephen Mason into his handcuffs, then did the classic ‘Hang on… did I bring the key with me…? Oh blimey… don’t tell me I’ve left it down the station…’ routine. To much hilarity.

I’m pretty sure this was in early 1981, so it’s unlikely Logopolis was much of an influence – maybe it worked the other way around, though!

  Justin wrote @

I don’t think we were ever shown films like this in school but I remember those two from the Public Information Films they showed on the TV.
For those that don’t know (and actually might care) both the safety films mentioned are available on the really most entertaining “Charley Says” DVDs along with loads of other PIFs stretching back to the late 50s. So, who can remember what SPLINK! stood for?

  bobfischer wrote @

Stop… Panic… Lactate… Impersonate Neil Kinnock.

The only safe way to cross the road.

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