Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 272

Friday 28th September 1984

Woke up at 7.35 and at 8.30 Doug came and then Gazzie arrived, and we played on the tarzie before going to school. First lesson was Basketball and we did some races.

Next was French and we had to write out another conversation, and after that was Geography in which Mr Flynn was trying to flog us some books about Yarm that he had written for 50p!

At 12.00 I had dinner, then it was maths. After that it was music, and then it was double science. First we had to measure the tennis courts, then the path outside. At 3.40 I came home with Doug across the field and when I got home I played football outside.

At 4.30 Doug came and we finished our maps of Yarm for Geography homework, then I hit old Poggy Doggy while I was on the tarzie. At 5.00 Doug went and I had tea then I played football till Blankety Blank at 7.00.

At 7.30 I watched Play your cards right, then came Me and my girl at 8.00 and We Love TV at 8.30. I watched Tell the truth at 9.00 and at 9.30 I had a wash and went to bed.

I remember Mr Flynn’s books! They provided a really nice little history of our medieval town, were neatly published in a homely DIY style, and were on sale at Yarm Bookshop, with all proceeds going to the Conyers school fund to help build us a new Sports Hall. Or to provide a new cage to house Mr Rolfe during full moons.  Obviously a lovely thing to have done, but – hey! – he was my Geography teacher, so I was duty-bound to be a bit sneery and dismissive of it all. Baaaaah! 

Meanwhile, in Music, Miss Stainsby was trying her best to instill some musical knowledge into minds that had been irreversibly formatted into ‘It’s Not Music Unless Peter Powell Introduces It With A Crap Joke’ mode. 25 years ago today, she had the thankless task of introducing us grotty oiks to the concept of the musical stave…

It looks like we were spelling out simple words by placing notes on the corresponding ‘letter’ on the stave. We did this, of course, by using the standard musical acronym ‘Every Good Boy Deserves Football’, as dictated to us by a twinkly-eyed Miss Stainsby. 

‘That’s not the F-word that I would have used,’ whispered Doug, nudging me with his elbow and winking salaciously. I smiled, but – amazingly – I wasn’t really in the mood for smut. This musical notation lesson was the first time at Conyers school that I remember feeling completely out of my depth… I just couldn’t comprehend how the brilliant pop records I heard on the radio could be translated into these weird dots and lines. A feeling not helped by the fact that our class seemed to be suddenly filled with pre-pubescant musical prodigies who’d been playing the Cor Anglais since the age of three.   

Still, not to worry – Double Science OUTSIDE!!! It was always hugely exciting to have a standard indoor lesson breaking out of the dusty confines of the classroom and heading for the wide, open prairies of, erm… the tennis courts. But when Mr Warren told us to ‘put your blazers back on, we’re heading outdoors for today’s important research’, a little frisson of excitement spread giddily around Class 1CW.

I’m still not certain why we seemed to be measuring every single straight line in Conyers School, but there was only one place this was going to end up – Simon Bentley’s amazing pudding-bowl haircut fringe. Before that, we had the tennis courts to consider… and our measurements were made using fabulous wooden wheel contraptions, pushed along with a burnished teak handle and making a loud ‘CLICK’ for every metre travelled. If you ran with them (and, naturally, we did) it sounded like a stampede of angry, giant Rubik Cubes.

Incidentally, I’ve just had a weird flashback to a little recurring theme from our science lessons around this time… Messrs Spayne and Mason re-enacting a gruesome torture scene from a film that they both claimed to have seen on TV. In a nutshell… the victim has his hand placed firmly on a table, with fingers splayed. The tormentor (played by Mason with a sterling ‘evil Nazi’ accent) then approaches it across the table with a knife, grinning maniacally and saying ‘Chop chop chop… chop chop chop… chop chop chop…’) as he brings the blade closer to the hand.

Double Science finger manglement inevitably followed, but has anyone any idea which film (or TV show) this might have come from?

Good to see Doug and I finally making use of the school field short cut home, as well. This inevitably resulted in our shoes and trousers from the knees down looking as though they’d been through a slurry vat, but hey! It took five minutes off our journey and only meant an extra two hours of cleaning and washing for our Mums, so where was the harm? This swamp-like journey brought us out through a large gap in the hedge near the garage across the road from my house and was an acknowledged route to and from Conyers School for pupils and teachers alike. Needless to say it’s now impossible to do, as the entire school grounds are surrounded by Colditz-style security fences complete with watch towers, searchlights and Mr Flynn carrying out random spot checks for passports and ‘papers’. Only those carrying Red Cross parcels are allowed access during the hours of daylight.   

And what a splendid night of mid-1980s TV! We’ve covered most of these before, but let’s have a bit of appreciation for ‘Me And My Girl’, with a dashing Richard O’Sullivan as a single Dad bringing up his wayward teenage daughter (Joanne Ridley, who – naturally – I fancied like mad).

Tim Brooke-Taylor provided sterling support as O’Sullivan’s bumbling work colleague, as I recall. I’d buy these if they came out on DVD. Which is probably no surprise to anybody.



  Ian Farrage wrote @

Rag floppy Stainsby – top drawer hippy commune material. I was one of the pre-pubescant musical instrument players, far from a prodigy sadly. I had the joy of playing the clarinet from 1st or 2nd year Juniors. I had the even greater pleasure of the musical partner in crime being Susan Hindley. What would I have given to be playing with her as we got older…… behave Farrage, she’s a nice girl.
What I do remember from this early time in School and the musical lessons was the first year exam. The only time I got 98% in an exam – I got a 96% in cycling proficiency in Junior School (marks deducted for trying to do wheelies) and I did do the unthinkable and get 100% in a Uni exam – but when an electronics exam is just above Ohms law it’s hardly a surprise to do so well. I had to make up for this shameful display by purchasing lashing of Best Scotch for the boys as punishment.

  David Brunt wrote @

I think the knife game was in something like “Apocalypse Now”. Something of that ilk anyway.

  bobfischer wrote @

Mr F, you were such an evil bugger as a kid that I’d forgotten you were a musical prodigy as well. Can you still remember the fingering? Don’t answer that.

Cheers Mr B… it’s definitely something like that, although I’m SURE that Nazis were involved somewhere. It’s not Marathon Man, is it?

  David Brunt wrote @

I can picture the scene, but can’t for the life of me think what it’s from.

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