Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 281

Sunday 7th October 1984

Woke up at 10.10 and rang Doug a couple of times, but he was out so I played football outside till 12.00, when I had dinner, then I rang Doug again and he was in. Doug came over at 1.00 and at 1.30 we went to the mud track.

First we had a go on the swings then Doug taught me how to do back hops. After that I climbed the tree, then we turned the rocking horse into a rodeo. Lastly we both climbed the tree (Doug got stuck), then we went to Doug’s house and dismantled the hut.

At 5.00 I came home and had tea, then I played football till 7.00, when I washed my hair. At 7.15 I watched Child’s play, and at 7.15 I watched It’ll be alright on the night 3.

At 8.45 I watched Just good friends, then I went to bed at 9.15.

Yay! My best mate taught me some totally rad BMX moves… AWESOME!!! Except for the fact that I was trying to do them on a rusty old Raleigh Chopper that weighed only slightly less than HMS Hermes. I can’t imagine doing much in the way of ‘back hops’, given that my chosen mode of transport required a couple of tonnes of liquid nitrogen to get half an inch off the pavement.

Still, the ‘mud track’ looked lovely, with Tizer-coloured Autumn leaves providing a crinkly blanket across the muddy grass as we slopped around the swings and slide. I’m determined to get the most out of these films, so here you go… here it is again…

The tree that proved our nemesis is visible at the start of the film… it’s the one in the distance, standing alone on the other side of the path. I love the ‘turned the rocking horse into a rodeo’ bit as well! Woo-hoo! Go US! How desperate was I to make this sound ANYTHING OTHER than two 11-year-old boys playing on outdoor amusements designed specifically for 5-year-olds? No doubt, afterwards, right, we went home and did karate on our teddy bears cos we’re f***ing NAILS, yeah? RIGHT???

(Mind you, that rocking horse got a bit tasty if there were two of you on it, and there was no soft covering on the ground in those days… it was all concrete, ALRIGHT?)

And awwwww… our hut. This was the really-rather-impressive den that Doug and I had constructed in his garden during the Spring of 1984, made out of solid wood and standing about four feet high and five feet square. It had a frosted window and a door with a catch, and inside was a small shelf (for holding Tizer and Penguin biscuits) and the ancient 1970s ‘nuddy calendar’ salvaged from behind a donkey jacket in Doug’s dad’s garage. 

It occupied a corner of the garden behind the garage and we’d spent weeks of the early summertime sitting in there, talking abject filth, plotting world domination, guzzling Presto’s own brand orange squash and looking at naked ladies with – by today’s standards –  extraodinary quantities of body hair.

Fantastically, when I dug out my old school books from the loft the other week, one of them contained the below blueprints. These are the plans we drew up for our New Den (we got there before Millwall) around the middle of March 1984, starting with a view of the front as seen from outside…

And this is an aeriel view of the interior…


Brilliantly, the ‘door to passage’ was intended to be a secret trapdoor in the floor that opened up to reveal a Colditz-style tunnel that would lead… well, who knows? We were so hilariously ambitious as 11-year-olds that it wouldn’t suprise me if we’d fully intended to dig a half-mile tunnel to my garden, emerging undetected around the back of my Dad’s laburnam bush and shaking the moles and spiders from our pockets. Needless to say, we got distracted by the nuddy calendar and didn’t bother in the end… 

All good fun, but six months on, Doug’s dad had made it clear that he wanted the corner of his back garden back, so we ruefully set about demolishing our old refuge. One random memory from this process… as I tore off the back panel of the hut, a spider the size of a baby’s hand scurried frantically across the timber. 

‘F*** off!’ I shrieked manfully. ‘Look at the size of that!!!’

‘Stand aside,’ grumbled Doug, and promptly lamped it with a giant clawhammer. There are probably still bits of it splattered up the side of the garage. Doug had grown up in Australia, and didn’t take any chances where arachnids were concerned.

Back home, and this was the day that I decided my new dental brace was never going to last the course at mealtimes… faced by a steaming plate of traditional Sunday dinner, I shook my head ruefully and took it out, feeling the blissful sensation of Yorkshire pudding hit the roof of my mouth. ‘Don’t forget to put it back in again afterwards,’ said my Mum, with a warning glower.

I think I finally ‘remembered’ in the middle of Just Good Friends. 

That gorgeous title sequence brings back hugely evocative memories of mid-1980s Sunday nights… freshly-shampooed hair, crisp Woolworths pyjamas, a dwindling coal fire and the nagging feeling of undone homework. If everything in the 1970s was coloured brown and orange, then 1984 was pink and blue all over.


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