Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 271

Thursday 27th September 1984

Woke up at 8.00 and Doug came at 8.30. At 8.35 Gazzie came and we went to school. First we had double science, then music. Then it was Geography, and we finished our history of Yarm.

At 12.00 we had dinner, then it was DT. Next was RE and after that it was History. At 3.40 I carried Doug’s bag for him as he had his salad to bring home, and when Doug went home I played out till tea at 5.00.

At 7.00 I watched Tomorrow’s world and at 7.30 I watched Top of the pops. At 8.00 I watched The magnificent Evens, then Duty Free. Lastly I saw A kick up the eighties and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Ah, still measuring things… this time, the mass of different materials found around the science laboratory. ‘Put Anita Hargreaves on the scales, she’ll redifine the laws of physics,’ shouted Jo Spayne. ‘Get on with your work,’ replied Mr Warren, entirely reasonably. Did we really have such an impressive slab of marble in the science laboratories? And had the wax, as speculated, come from Simon Bentley’s ears?

I’m sure this will be as much of a surprise to him as it was to me, but Mr Flynn’s Geography lesson 25 years ago today provided one of the most exciting moments of my school career to date… not only did we finish our official History of Yarm (26th Sep 1805… Iron Bridge built, costing £8000. 13th Jan 1806… Iron Bridge collapses) but we also produced… THIS!!!

Yep, a home-made map of Yarm High Street and its surrounding environs, complete with – SURPRISE, SURPRISE – the first-ever site of Conyers School clearly marked. It was founded in 1590, you know. I believe the date was actually mentioned in a few of our lessons. Once or twice. Every twenty minutes. For seven years.

Anyway, after almost a full year of playing Fighting Fantasy books, my burgeoning inner geek had developed a fully-fledged love of map-making, and to discover that Yarm’s cobbled High Street ran almost precisely from South – North, and that the River Tees enveloped it in an exciting horse-shoe shape, was impossibly exciting. And this… why, THIS would explain why I could watch the Sun setting from my Eastward-facing bedroom window on an early Winter’s evening! Ah, the glories of modern science. I was genuinely overcome by these revelations, and my mind spent the rest of the day deliriously mulling them over. Good job I was only a humble schoolkid, and not expected to handle sharp objects or deal with heavy machinery in the course of my working day.


Yes, in ‘CDT’ (‘There’s no Design or Technology without Craft, is there n-‘ ‘YES MR HENDRY, WE KNOW!!!’) we were faffing about with industrial equipment and, erm, drawing nice pictures of it all while our genial, bearded Man Mountain teacher paced around the workshop in an oil-stained apron.

‘The vices used in the metal work room are fixed to the bench top. The jaws of the vice are HARD and will mark soft metals. To prevent this happening JAW guards are used. These are sometimes called SOFT jaws or vice grips’

That’s what I wrote in my CDT exercise book 25 years ago today, and the words in capital letters have been underlined in fine-nibbed pencil. CDT underlining had to be conducted with the utmost precision, and all lines were required to be EXACTLY ONE MILLIMETRE below the above text, or the fabric of the Universe (and Mr Hendry’s apron) would no doubt begin to unravel. I’ve no idea why such precision was required, but can’t help but speculate that somebody, somewhere in the CDT department had an undiagnosed form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (‘And remember, that’s OCD – there’s no Compulsions or Disorders without Obsessions…’)  

I also had a vague idea that the word ‘vice’ was vaguely rude and worthy of further discussion, but was unable to conduct my investigations properly because my usual partner-in-smut Doug was away in the Home Economics department making a delicious fruit salad. And then covering it in clingfilm for the precarious mile-long walk home while a procession of annoying 12-year-old oiks ran past shouting ‘Fruit Wanker!!!!’ and trying to knock it out of his hands.

And so to Top of The Pops. Gather around, ye Radio 1 presenters, and let’s see who’s got the short straw this week. Ah Peter Powell, well done sir! Now get out there and try to make this horrible lot look vaguely exciting…

• Animal Nightlife – Mr. Solitaire [Performance]
• Big Country – East Of Eden [Performance]
• Prince – Purple Rain [Promo Video]
• Sade – Smooth Operator [Performance]
• Shakin Stevens – A Letter To You [Promo Video]
• Stephanie Mills – The Medicine Song [Promo Video]
• Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You [Promo Video]
• U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love) [Promo Video]
• UB40 – If It Happens Again [Performance]

‘These all sound the bloody same’ my Dad used to say, usually mis-timing his return from a regulation 20-minute bath and entering the front room at approximately 7.52pm. Just for once, it’s hard to disagree with him. Although it’s good to see my old favourite Shaky still going strong, and donning a flying jacket to spring a lissom 1980s Rapunzel using only a pad of A4 paper and a bi-plane…

I was hoping beyond hope that his message in the sky was going to read ‘UB40 ARE SHITE – SHAKY RULES’ but, aside from that, what a splendidly entertaining video!


  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I have no memory at all of Stephanie Mills and The Medicine Song. Not even a vague tune running through my head.

I have all too many memories of hand vices, more’s the pity.

  bobfischer wrote @

Let this blog be your education, Dr Parcel…

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