Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 267

Sunday 23rd September 1984

Woke up at 9.00 and got up at 10.20. I tidied my desk, then I started to draw a map of the world. At 12.00 I had dinner, then I finished my map and put it on my bedroom wall.

After that I went outside and played football, then when I came in I listened to the charts. At 6.00 I had tea, then I listened to the charts again.

At 7.00 I went out and at 8.00 I had a shower. When I came down I coloured some more of my Cliff Hanger adventure book and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Ah, the ‘map of the world’! This was a recurring childhood project for me, and I think I drew a new one at least once every couple of years. In early 1982 I got carried away and created a giant, luridly-coloured effort that spanned at least eight pages of A4 (all stuck together with slightly yellowed Sellotape) and saw off a full packet of WH Smiths’ felt-tip pens.

It absolutely obsessed me, and I spent every waking hour crinkling this gigantic behemoth of cartography and noisily colouring in the coast of Bolivia while my Dad rolled his eyes and tried to watch Northern Life with one hand over his ear. I was tracing all of the countries from an ancient paperback-sized book that my Uncle Trevor had used for Geography lessons in the early 1960s, so this created two minor drawbacks for my project…

1. The representations of each country weren’t all on the same scale, so my map had a gigantic Iceland brushing up against a surprisingly modest-looking Scandinavian coast, and so on.

2. The book was almost thirty years old, so my map contained impeccable guides to non-existant political states like Rhodesia, British Honduras and French Indochina. Let’s face it, anyone who attempted to use it to circumnavigate the globe would probably have ended up marooned on a jagged shard of rock about six miles off the coast of Plymouth. Luckily, I just stuck all eight pages on the bedroom wall and left it there until the Summer of 1984, when Doug pointed and laughed at the miniscule size of Australia.

Hence the new version. My ‘desk’ by the way, was not quite as grand as it sounds… it was a toy school desk that had been bought for me at the age of five. It had a flip-top lid and a little yellow chair, but when I attempted to use it at the grand old age of 11, it was vaguely reminiscent of a scene from Gulliver’s Travels.

Good to see me still glued to the Radio 1 chart rundown, this week’s edition being the last to be hosted by Simon ‘Our Tune’ Bates before Richard ‘Roundtable’ Skinner took over the duties. Not a vintage charts this week, although it did see one of my favourite pop songs of all time CRASH into the Top 40 at, erm, No 39…

Whenever I hear ‘Together In Electric Dreams’, there’s a little part of me that’s always transported back to my parents front room, sprawled on the carpet with my ear pressed against the speaker on our Stereo system because my parents were watching the Antiques Roadshow and didn’t want to hear ‘that bloody rubbish’.

Which sounds harsh, until you realise that ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ was still at No 1 in the charts.


  Chris Orton wrote @

Ah, cartography! I used to trace maps out of my Dad’s Phillips World Atlas from time to time, little thinking that it would be how I would later earn my living…

  Stuart Downing wrote @

Together in Electric dreams only got to number 39?? Spookily, I’ve been listening to that song on my way home this very evening – I put it on a compilation CD at the weekend.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ah no, that’s just where it entered the charts! These were still the days when new singles entered the charts quite low and then worked their way to the top. Eventually it rose up to No 3 in the hit parade.

Didn’t realise you were a cartographer Mr O! Are you ever tempted to write ‘Here Be Dragons’ next to somewhere unsavoury?

  Chris Orton wrote @

When the maps here used to be drawn by hand with pen and ink, some of the chaps here used to put ‘secret messages’ into the maps, so Here Be Dragons could well have featured in some of the worlds most prestigious academic journals. Sadly, it’s all computers now so you can’t really get away with that sort of thing any more!

  bobfischer wrote @

Bloody computers take the fun out of everything!

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