Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 270

Wednesday 26th September 1984

Woke up at 7.50 and got up at 8.15. At 8.45 Doug came with Gazzie and we went to school. First it was art and I got one third of a merit, and then came history and maths.

At 12.00 I had dinner, then it was French. Next was English, and finally Science. At 3.40 I came home and had tea, and at 5.00 I watched Think of a number. At 5.30 I watched The good life, then I went out.

Came in at 7.00 and did my homework, then I watched Benny Hill at 8.00. At 8.30 I watched Fresh Fields, and I watched Minder at 9.00. Then I watched the end of the Black Adder before going to bed at 10.00.

Good to see Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones joining mine and Doug’s little walking-to-school arrangement… I think his parents had just discovered that it was far easier to drop him at my house then get clogged up in the procession of Ford Escorts and Volvos gridlocking the entrance to Conyers School. Which suited us down to the ground, and gave us an five minutes of smutty cameraderie to help us through the day.

The mornings were starting to get seriously damp and miserable now, with mushy brown leaves and the odd premature conker dotting the pavements, but there was always that sturdy old favourite ‘Tuthankhamen’ to warm our 11-year-old cockles…

Scribbled in coloured pencils exactly 25 years ago today, with drizzle hammering against Mrs Ansbro’s first floor window, this was probably the 4,315th drawing of the Teenage Pharoah that I’d attempted since starting school in 1977, and will undoubtedly not have been the last.

Still, credit to Mrs Ansbro for kindly debunking the ‘Curse of the Pharoahs’ myths that had so terrified me during our Ancient Egyptians topic work at Levendale Primary School in early 1981. I’d been so shaken by Mrs Keasey’s stories of King Tut’s Curse that I’d taken to assuming ANYTHING older than the previous Tuesday’s Evening Gazette had potential to bring death, woe and famine upon my family. This culminated in me refusing to touch a 1920s halfpenny coin that my Dad brought home after discovering it in a Teesside garden during a bit of part-time building work.

‘I’m not going anywhere near it…’ I insisted, backing up nervously against the dining room wall.

‘Why?’ he frowned. 

‘It might be cursed. I’ve been reading at school about The Curse Of The Pharoahs’.

‘It’s alright, it’s not from a tomb in the Valley of The Kings’

‘Where’s it from, then?’

‘A council house garden in Hemlington’

I weighed up the options and decided I’d still rather not take the risk. I was still terrified of the house spiders that landed in our bathroom sink every Autumn, I wasn’t doing anything that might provoke a plague of locusts.

Thankfully, by 1984, I was of more of a scientific mind, which came in handy when Mr Warren set us to work measuring the laboratory with a meter rule…

I’m not sure what the scientific hypothesis for this experiment was, but the practical result was an outbreak of metre-rule swordfencing that made the exploits of the Three Musketeers look like a minor punch-up down a Thornaby back alley. Conclusion: Science Class 1CW are a bunch of annoying gits.

Still, I made up for it by watching Think Of A Number with Johnny Ball, still one of the greatest educational TV shows ever made, and with a title sequence that has the power to strip away the past 25 years like old Vymura wallpaper…

And ‘The Black Adder’ was, of course, the first series of the now legendary historical sitcom – although this was a repeat, as the original screening was in summer 1983. A very underrated series though, often overlooked in favour of the bawdier sequels, and with lovely little cameos from the likes of Peter Cook and Brian Blessed…

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