Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 283

Tuesday 9th October 1984

Got up at 8.00 and at 8.30 Doug came and we went to school. First was assembly, then it was English. Next came RE, and then English again. After that was Drama, and Doug, Carr, Mason and I had to stop people crashing into walls, then catch Mr Harrison!

At 12.00 I came home and had dinner, then at 1.00 I went back. First was French, then maths, and lastly I made my Fresh Fruit salad in HE. I came home at 3.40 and played out till tea at 5.00.

At 5.10 I watched Star Trek, and at 6.00 I got changed, then Doug came and we had a lark on at Youthy. Came back at 8.30 and did Homework, and went to bed at 10.00.

Wow! One of my favourite-ever school lessons… drama with strapping, chain-smoking Teesside comedy genius Mr Harrison, who’d concocted a series of amazing ‘trust exercises’ to ‘help you work as a team, because if there’s one thing that’s CRUCIAL in drama, it’s teamwork. Hoo-hoo!’ (The last bit being accompanied by a hilarious Les Dawson-esque ‘Cisse and Ada’ gurn)

I’m delighted to say that a fuller account of this half-hour of inspired madness exists in my drama exercise book…

9th October 1984 WEEK 1

First exercise was a ‘trust exercise’, where you had to confidently fall backwards into your partner’s arms.

When we’d done that, Phil Carr, Dougie Simpson, Stephen Mason and I had to be trusted by the rest of the class, for they had to run at us with their eyes closed and trust us to stop them slamming into the wall. However we didn’t escape because we had a go with Mr Harrison stopping us!

Next, eight boys including myself unsuspectedly grabbed hold of each other’s wrists and leaned back. We didn’t know that Mr Harrison was going to run and jump, and we had to catch him!

The ‘confidently fall backwards into your partner’s arms’ bit sounds hopelessly romantic, doesn’t it? Naturally I was Doug’s partner, and had to stand in front of him, facing the wall, and then – with my arms pinned rigidly to my sides – fall backwards on my heels, with every intention of hitting the floor like the proverbial sack of spuds. The idea being that Doug would stop me from doing so, but I wasn’t allowed to look around to make sure he was there – I just had to TRUST that he would be.

And, naturally he was. And me for him. Although I think the mischevious Mason played a bit fast and loose with the rules, and left Jo Spayne rubbing a swelling mound on the back of his head for the rest of the afternoon.

And then, yep… Mr Harrison sent me, Doug, Mason and softly-spoken blond Commodore 64-owner Phil Carr to the far wall of the classroom with the immortal words ‘Don’t worry, I’ll tell the firing squad to aim high…’ The rest of the class were then encouraged, one by one, to pelt directly towards us ‘like a stampeding gazelle’ with their eyes shut. Where the trust exercise fell down slightly was that – clearly – hardly any of them trusted us one jot, and almost all of them slowed to a nervous trot long before they reached our grubby, groping arms.

Which is exactly what I did when pelting towards Mr Harrison for my turn. ‘Gaaah, you CHICKEN!!!’ he laughed, and made the textbook ‘flapping wings’ motion with his arms as I scuffed my way sheepishly back to my classmates. Mason, predictably, went hell for leather and nearly put the pair of them through the door into the CDT department, where Mr Hendry was busy sweeping detached fingertips from the workspace next to the industrial lathes.

We got our own back, though. Grasping each others wrists and leaning back to form a loose, flimsy-looking cradle, we were startled to see the 6’4″, fifteen-stone Mr H scuffing the floor with one Hush Puppied-foot (stampeding gazelle-style) and launching himself into a full-bodied belly flop into our pathetic, pipecleaner arms. We all collapsed into a tangled heap on the floor, leaving Mr H grinning maniacally and sprawled across the chewing-gum splattered tiling. He’s probably still picking bits of Juicy Fruit from his jumper.

Amazing fun though, and – as the man said at the time – a great little team-building exercise. A truly memorable lesson from a brilliantly inventive teacher.



  Chris Byers wrote @

I can remember that drama lesson very well and it wasn’t Jo Spayne that partnered Stephen Mason, it was me. I have to say it was certainly a big challenge having to put complete and utter trust in Stephen Mason. I must have been mad.

  bobfischer wrote @

Ah, really – sorry! I definitely remember somebody coming a (possibly deliberate cropper) and I was sure it was Spayne and Mason, but I bow to your far superior memory!

Did he catch you, or did he dive out of the way? And how did the return fixture go?

  Chris Byers wrote @

I am quite shore your right and someone did accidentally or otherwise fall, but I am sorry to say I can’t remember who. It quite possibly was Jo Spaine, but who partnered him I don’t know. I can’t help thinking however that it may have been Vincent Potter who fell.

I am pleased to say however that myself and Mr Mason completed the task without injury, much to my relief especially as Stephen Mason was of a slightly larger than average build and I wasn’t quite shore whether I could hold on to him or not.

  bobfischer wrote @

I think you’re right, it was Vince Potter. But who was the eejit who didn’t catch him properly? The police casebook is still open…

  Inspector Hector Vector wrote @

It isn’t, you know.

It were binned shortly before that ‘Zero Tolerance’ came in a few years back.

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