Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 282

Monday 8th October 1984

Got up at 8.10 and at 8.30 Doug and Gazzie came. We went to school, and the first lesson was Maths. Then it was History, and after that, double rugby. At 12.00 I walked home and when I got home I had dinner.

Went back to school at 1.00 and first was French (I got a merit). Next was English, and after that, geog. Last came maths and at 3.40 I came home and did some Homework.

At 4.45 we went to Yarm and I got Scorpion Swamp (the new Fighting Fantasy) from Strickies. Then I saw Thompsy, and after that we picked mam up from the doctor’s. When we got home I mapped Scorpion swamp and at 6.00 I had tea.

Then I mapped till 8.00, when I watched Tripper’s day. At 8.30 I watched Chance in a million, at 9.00 I watched Kelly monteith, and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Oooooh! Industrial action!!!

Regular readers may be scratching their chins and wondering why, after years of slumming it with spam fritters and semolina in the school dinner hall, I suddenly started going home for lunch. Especially as, on the face of it, this made me part of a very weird sect indeed. As everyone knows, school dinner eaters of the 1980s fell into three distinct categories…

1. School Dinner Stalwarts: The regular Joes. They ate their Official School Dinner in the Official School Dinner Hall, queuing at the serving hatch and having piles of ‘stew’, dumplings and green beans slopped into the sunken white eyelets of a tray, with a wobbly heap of trifle balanced precariously in the adjacent section.

2. Packed Lunch Perverts: Still allowed to eat in the dinner hall, but shamelessly rejecting the school’s official fayre for a packed lunch of their Mum’s own concoction. A blinding white egg sandwich, a packet of Hula Hoops, an apple and a Mint Club biscuit (complete with inexplicable golf ball illustration), all stuffed into a faded Star Wars lunchbox. Possibly a Presto’s own brand yoghurt as well, and maybe a tiny carton of Ribena or Um Bongo.

Your average Packed Lunch Pervert tended to be a pale, male geek with a penchant for Blake’s 7 and a navy blue parka with the drawstring permanently tied on winter days, because Mummy says it’s ‘bitter out’.

3. Home Dinner Heretics: These were the real nutcases. Kids who lived so close to school they had special dispensation from Mr Watson to toddle off to Mummy at 12pm and eat a plate of bright orange fishfingers in their lovely, cuddly, snuggly front room, all accompanied by The Flumps and the Tyne Tees Regional News.  They all, without exception, grew up to be psychopaths, obsessive loners, mother-fixated weaklings and Members of European Parliament.

I was a dedicated School Dinner Stalwart throughout most of my Levendale Primary School career, although I did have a couple of years being a Packed Lunch Pervert, around 1982/83. This must have been a source of great embarrassment to my mother, who actually WORKED IN THE SCHOOL KITCHENS AT THE TIME. Which might, I suppose, have been the reason I did it in the first place (mwahahahahaha – evil laugh)

I was firmly back in the Spam Fritter fold by the time we went to Conyers though, and was determined to remain so until this fateful day, when… yikes! EVERYBODY OUT!!! I can’t remember exactly who went on strike on this freezing, rainswept dinnertime… it MIGHT have been the dinner ladies, but I’ve a nagging feeling it was one of the teaching unions working to rule, and refusing to indulge in frivolous non-academic activities like supervising the dinner hall. And RE (probably).

Regardless, come 12pm, the Conyers dinner hall was locked up and in darkness – with chairs stacked on tables and an eerie silence permeated only by the lonesome, haunting wail of a desolate, dying fishcake. Our parents had been given a couple of day’s notice, and asked to make arrangements for alternative lunchtime face-feeding. My Mum and Dad were both working at this stage, so my house was empty. However, I was trusted with a key, and told that I could come home and make my own dinner on the FOLLOWING CONDITIONS…

1. ‘You come back BY YOURSELF. The house is NOT to be used as a party venue for the entire class, and if it’s DISCOVERED that you’ve brought a big gang of MATES around with you, then THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY’. (NB Doug was alright, he was part of the family)

2. ‘BE CAREFUL with the cooker. Make sure ALL the rings are turned off before you leave the house, or the place will BURN DOWN with BOTH DOGS trapped in it’

3. ‘GET BACK TO SCHOOL ON TIME. You are not, REPEAT NOT, to be late for French because you’ve decided to watch the first TEN MINUTES of PEBBLE MILL AT ONE to catch the start of the PAUL NICHOLAS interview’


‘What are you doing for dinner?’ asked comedy genius Andrew ‘Sug’ Sugden, as we stuffed our mud-caked rugby kits into our Puma sports bags at 11.55pm.

‘Going home,’ I replied. ‘Doug’s coming as well’.

‘Can I come?’


So Doug, Sug and I ran laughing like lunatics across the school field, crashed into the kitchen with all the decorum of a Sex Pistols press conference, and put the telly on. Sug had a packed lunch, which he ate sprawled on the sofa, chucking the occasional Hula Hoop to Poggy Doggy. My Mum had left me two sausage rolls on a very low heat in the oven, and a saucepan full of Presto Baked Beans ready to rumble on the hob.

And, in an amazing display of cameraderie, I split this with Doug, who had nothing. I think he’d forgotten to give the letter to his parents. The house was freezing, and we never took off our coats. We were like three desperados cast adrift in the wilderness, wild frontiersmen on the very brink of dinner-based endurace. And yet… it was great. Lovely. Adult. It felt like OUR house.

And then we watched the Paul Nicholas interview on Pebble Mill at One and were ten minutes late for the start of French.

Naturally I didn’t mention any of this in my diary. As far as my nosey parker Mum was concerned, I walked home by myself, ate my dinner, locked up the house and walked back. Oh yes. Oh yes indeedy. And no-one would ever know. Oh no. Absolutely not, no way.

‘Did you get your dinner alright?’ asked my Mum, as I slinked back into the kitchen at 3.45pm.

‘Yes thanks,’ I mumbled, looking unmistakeably guilty.

‘Who came back with you?’

‘Doug and Sug’

She rolled her eyes, gave me a playful bat around the ear, and sent me upstairs to do my homework.

I’ve got a feeling we later had a proper argument about something else, though – possibly my dental brace, which I THINK I was refusing to wear once again. I only say this because I needed an extra 20p to afford to buy Scorpion Swamp in Strickland and Holt’s, and my mother refused to ‘lend’ it to me (as if I would EVER pay it back) until I started to ‘behave’.

Eventually I relented, and I remember flicking through the book on a plastic chair in the doctors’ waiting room.

And then I must have been naughty again, and I was forced to watch Tripper’s Day before going to bed with no supper.



  Chris Byers wrote @

I can’t help but notice that you seem to be collecting a rather large number of Merit Marks, which probably explains that rather fetching Conyers house tie that I seem to remember you wearing when we started second year. I have to point out that this sort of behaviour can only lead in giving the class of 1CW a bad name, and you should have had at least four or five Order Marks by now or even the odd Conduct Mark. I would have thought all those years at Levendale with the likes of Stephen Mason would have taught you something.

I should perhaps point out that I went through my entire Conyers career without ever receiving an Order Mark or the even worse Conduct Mark, so I did nothing to help our class image either.

  bobfischer wrote @

I know, and I’m sorry. And yes, I got my colours at the end of the year! Which gained me a nasty yellow streak in my blue and red tie. It looked truly horrible, and I had to wear it for the next four years of my school life. I should have been a bit lazier – my parents would have been disappointed, but I’d have been better dressed.

I never got an Order Mark or a Conduct Mark either. Or a single detention.

Makes you sick, doesn’t it?

  Ian Farrage wrote @

Oooh – he’s just like Gary Lineker – clearly not trying hard enough

  bobfischer wrote @

The nearest I got was in a second year English class when you shoved a compass spike in Nobby’s arse and Miss Murphy hauled us all out of the ensuing mayhem for interrogation. 😉

  bobfischer wrote @

Oh, and an Art lesson around the same time, when a bold experiment with textures resulted in blue paint being flung all over me, you, Nobby, Burton, Thompson and Jo Spayne. And most of the art room wall.

Miss Sheldon passed the message onto Miss Wilson, and we were hauled out of registration and asked to explain ourselves. Which I suppose we must have done pretty effectively…

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