Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 276

Tuesday 2nd October 1984

Woke up at 7.55 and got up at 8.20. Doug came at 8.30, and just as we were leaving to go to school, Gazzie came so we all went together. First it was assembly, then we had English and I had to read out my essay.

Then it was RE, and next a library lesson in English. After that it was drama, and at 12.00 I had dinner. First lesson when we came in was French, then we went to the drama hall and had our photos taken.

After that we had a few minutes of maths, then it was HE. I came home at 3.40 and at 5.00 I had tea. Then I played out till Star Trek at 5.10. At 6.30 Doug came and we went to Youth club. I came back at 8.30 and watched Butterflies and at 9.00 I went to bed.

Hmmmm…. I’ve just spent far too long hunting around for the ‘essay’ that I read out in English exactly 25 years ago today, but I’ve had to admit defeat. There’s nothing in my battered English exercise book, so it must have been something I scribbled out on a seperate piece of paper and brought in with me. Whatever it was, I’d have loved performing it out loud to the rest of the class, and probably chucked in a few stupid voices along the way, for good measure. I am, was, and always will be, an attention-seeking slag.

(When it comes to public performance, anyway. In terms of actual social interaction, I’m a bumbling, awkward buffoon)

By means of consolation, I’ll offer up a scan of the logo at the bottom of my English exercise book’s front cover…

The more daring of my contemporaries would invariably attach a speech bubble to the shadowy leapfrogger, saying either ‘Yippeee!’ or (if they were feeling particularly rebellious) ‘Ow, my arse’. You’ll also note – if you look carefully – a murky circular stain behind the silhouette, the result of me compiling a list of verbs (doing, being or having words) while eating a chocolate eclair at the coffee table, doing my homework in front of Duty Free.

And school photo time! Yep, a month into our Conyers careers, and it was time to flog some merchandise to our parents. Except… mine didn’t bite. For the first time ever. I have the feeling that the fee for a picture of Class 1CW, the cream of 1984 youth, was an exorbitant £4.50, a price that made my Mum drop a tin of carrots on the kitchen floor and say ‘Bugger that! They must think we’re made of bloody money…’

My Dad, meanwhile, looked wryly up from the Evening Gazette Late Final and said ‘Are they wanting me to fund the new school hall by myself?’

So we didn’t bother, and huge thanks go to my former classmate and regular blog contributor Chris Byers for providing the following scan…

I’ve stuck a bigger version of this here, just click to have a butcher’s…

Alrighty, I’m on the floor on the left hand side, flaunting a tantalising glimpse of ankle above my black Mark and Spencer’s sock. Chris Byers is second from the left in the middle row, with his ‘Perseverando’ blazer badge floating ominously around Claire Otterson’s left ear. Heading right along the row of lads, you’ve then got Jonathan ‘Nobby’ Haworth, Marc ‘Thommo’ Thompson, my partner-in-crime Doug ‘Dougie’ Simpson, Jo ‘Spaynie’ Spayne, regular blog contributor Ian ‘Faz’ Farrage, Stephen ‘Mason’ Mason, Ian ‘Griff’ Griffiths and Alistair ‘Burton’ Burton.

I’ll leave the rest for any passing former Conyer-ites to have a bash at… I don’t want to hog all the glory here!

The picture was taken in the drama hall, whose spectacular striped curtains opened up to the grand vista of the school’s rugby and football pitches, so Mr Harrison’s drama lessons in this bijou little space were frequently accompanied by the distant sound of second formers kicking seven bells out of each other in the name of physical education. 

And every Tuesday night, the same room was transformed into Conyers school’s bustling Youth Club, with spiralling disco lights from Argos dancing around those same curtains as the sounds of Tears for Fears and Wham! pounded out of Spike’s DJ booth. As Doug and I walked down to Youth Club on this very evening, I think I had one of my regular mystical funny turns, gazing enigmatically into the darkened boughs of the wooded copse over the road and mumbling cryptically about ‘Magick in the air tonight…’ (Notice the addition of an all-important ‘K’. ‘Magic’ was what Paul Daniels did on BBC1 on a Saturday night… ‘Magick’ was the proper stuff that brought the dead back to life and allowed me to progress to the Paragraph 247 of the latest Fighting Fantasy book)

It was an air of wonder that dispelled fifteen minutes later when I attempted to check into Youth Club, only to discover that somebody else had entered the disco using my name. Identity Fraud, 1984 style! ‘That name’s already been crossed off the list,’ said Vince Potter’s Dad, helping out behind a sliding window. ‘Are you sure you’re Robert Fischer?’

‘No,’ said Doug, with a mischievious glint in his eye. ‘I’m Robert Fischer’.

‘No, I’m Robert Fischer,’ said a passing Ian Farrage, sucking on a luridly-coloured Wham Bar.

‘Oh, I forgot,’ said Vince’s Dad, rolling his eyes. ‘Tuesday night is Silly Buggers Night. Go on, get inside, the lot of you…’

To celebrate, I put in a special request to hear Kenny Everett’s ‘Snot Rap’ on the dancefloor.



  Chris Orton wrote @

You know, I reckon that E.J. Arnold (whoever he is) must have supplied just about the entire North-east with exercise books (which, you never got for P.E. where you actually exercised- hmm…)

At infant and junior school we had two main types as I recall – dark blue for English, buff orange for maths. The maths ones had a grid pattern inside, instead of plain lines. I hated maths though, so while I could easily get through four or five blue exercise books in a year, I got through far fewer buff orange ones. The books at our school were emblazoned with the Durham County Council crest on the front, and the covers were made of a cheap, rough material. In addition we had a half-width, thinner version that we used to for ‘spellings’. I remember that we were only allowed to use pencils in infant school, and only progressed to biros when we got put in the juniors.

I do wish now that I had kept some of them…

  Chris Byers wrote @

If this was the cream of 1984 youth god help us all. My apologies for any mistakes.

From left to right

Back row: Shelagh Walker, Jane Grayson, Railene Waters, Helen Simpson, Jane McDonald?, Sian Jay, Clair Elliott.
Second row: Philip Carr, Chris Byers, Jonathan Hawarth, Mark Thompson, Douglas Simpson, Jo Spayne, Ian Farrage, Stephen Mason, Ian Griffiths, Alistair Burton.
Third row Sarah Elkin, Clair Otterson, Sarah Holmlund, Susan Hindley, Pippa Cheung, Karen Longstaff, Jillian Davison, Alexandra Bennett, Marie Ingledue,
Front row: Robert Fischer, Vincent Potter, Mark Chapman

  bobfischer wrote @

Chris O – the EJ Arnold logo gave me a real giddy rush of emotion. It’s the ultimate nostalgia thing – a tiny part of life that you saw every day for years, then forgot about it completely for decades.

I think I’ve got pretty much all my secondary school books, although some of them will be at the bottom of long-unopened boxes in the loft. And yes, they’re a strange array of colours… Geography in particular is an almost luminous orange colour.

Chris B – spot on, I think! Your memory is amazing. I think I got all the first names, but was struggling with a couple of surnames. Amazing to look at that picture now… we spent seven years living in each others pockets, and yet I don’t think I’ve seen anyone on that picture for the best part of ten years. And, in some cases, it’s closer to twenty. It’s almost surreal to see us all together like that.

  bobfischer wrote @

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I’m away for a couple of days again now, so I’ll have to catch up with two entries on Sunday afternoon. Sorry!

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