Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 278

Thursday 4th October 1984

At 8.15 I got up and at 8.30 Doug came. Gazzie arrived at 8.45 and we went to school. First lesson was science and we measured some volumes, then it was music. After that we had a test in Geography and I got 9 out of 10.

At 12.00 I had dinner, and then I went to the Tuck Shop. First lesson when we came in was DT, and I did a paper model of my dragonfly. Then, on the way to RE, Mason, Thompson, Chapman and I got lost, then after asking Mr Dickson we saw that RE was in a different room.

Last was history, and at 3.40 I came home. I played football till tea at 5.00, and at 5.30 I watched Grange Hill. Then I played out till 6.30, when I did my homework. At 7.30 I watched Top of the pops, and at 8.00 I watched The Magnificent Evans.

At 8.30 I watched Duty Free, and at 9.00 I watched a kick up the eighties. I went to bed at 9.30.

No sign of any test in my Geography exercise book, so we must have done it on a seperate piece of paper. I can offer up this drawing of the original Yarm Town Hall, though, done around the same time…

Bless Mr Flynn for giving me 10/10 for this shamelessly wonky bit of scribbling! Incidentally, the hollow arches in the town hall, for as long as I can remember, have been filled in and occupied by the nastiest-smelling toilets I’ve ever had the misfortune to blunder across. Although, as Doug once pointed out to me during one of our daytime wanderings, the gents’ cubicle door had been decorated with the charming poem ‘Here I sit, all downhearted… tried to shit, but only farted…’ along with the classic, textbook ‘IF YOU WANT SEX PHONE 0642 78—-

(You have to wonder how on Earth the conversation would go. ‘Hi, sorry to bother you, but I got your number from the inside of the toilet door in Yarm Town Hall conveniences. I understand you offer sex? I just wondered if I could book in an appointment for, maybe, a week on Tuesday…?)

And Tuck Shop! This was operated from a window around the back of the school kitchens, next to the bins and the slop buckets, usually by whichever grumpy, yellow-overalled dinner nanny had been reluctantly pressed into service flogging Wham Bars and Opal Fruits to the unwashed masses.

This was pretty much the only time I used the service… I joined the back of a queue of sassy, loudmouthed fourth year girls, feeling VERY small and intimidated. ‘I’m 5p short for a Milky Way, can I have one anyway?’ asked the cocky-looking girl in front, reaching the scowling harridan in the window.

‘No you can’t, what do you think this is, a bloody charity? Come back when you’ve got the right money, and until then, up yours’.

I bought a Bounty bar (with the right money) and skulked off without making eye contact.

(By the way, nobody EVER says ‘Up yours’ any more, do they? What a great lost British obscenity, and I fear our classic, textbook ‘two fingers’ is sadly going the same way. I spent 33.7% of my childhood giving the V-sign to somebody or other, often accompanied by an enthusiastic raspberry. A pleasure that all modern kids seem completely unaware of, having long since adopted the rubbish, silent American ‘one finger’ approach, as thought they’re at a High School Prom in f***ing Pennsylvania, or somewhere. Makes you ashamed to be British)

All hail Mr Dixon, moustachioed, bespectacled deputy headmaster and head honcho of the Geography department, for genially guiding four aimless idiots to the new location for their RE lesson. Where, for our efforts, we were rewarded with Mrs Mainwaring-Taylor asking us to silently draw an ‘ancestral tablet…’ 


Take two a day, after mealtimes, with water.

And, as is traditional, here’s yer actual Top Of The Pops line-up, presented with minimum ceremony by grizzly Radio 1 heavies Simon Bates and Richard Skinner…

• Adam Ant – Apollo 9 [Performance]
• Bronski Beat – Why [Performance]
• Cars – Drive [Promo Video]
• Culture Club – The War Song [Performance]
• Giorgio Moroder & Phil Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams [Promo Video]
• John Waite – Missing You [Performance]
• Paul Mccartney – No More Lonely Nights [Promo Video]
• Stevie Wonder – I Just Called To Say I Love You [Promo Video]
• Stranglers – Skin Deep [Performance]

Predictably enough, a song whose middle section was invariably sung as ‘farting in our hearts, and farting in the streets’ in the hallowed corridors of Conyers School.

And ‘No More Lonely Nights’!!! A great slab of ultra-pop genius from Macca, and easily – for my money – one of his best 1980s singles. From his bizarre (but oddly brilliant) ‘travelogue’ film Give My Regards To Broad Street, clips from which seemed to appear virtually every week on the Late, Late Breakfast Show. Lovely to see Ringo in this as well…

Watching the above clip right now absolutely transports me back to the later months of 1984 in a way that’s indescribably moving. I really wasn’t prepared for this, but I really can hear the rain hammering against my parents old front room window, and see my Mum bringing in coffee and almond slices from the kitchen as my Dad wanders upstairs to ‘put the immersion on’. Dark nights, mouldering bonfires, and piles of homework stacked up on top of the stereo. It’s all in that song.  Amazing.


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