Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 285

Thursday 11th October 1984

Woke up at 8.00 and got up at 8.15. At 8.30 Doug came and we went to school. First was science, then Music. After that I got 10/10 in Geography, and at 12.00 I came home and had dinner.

Went to school again at 1.00 and it was DT. I sawed out the shape of Fred the Dragonfly. Next was RE and I drew a Totem pole, then it was History. At 3.40 I came home and at 5.00 I had tea.

Then I played out till 7.00, when mam and I played Hangman. At 8.00 I watched The Magnificent Evans, and at 8.30 I watched Duty Free. Then I watched Mike Harding and at 9.30 I went to bed.

Woo! Go Fischer! Ten out of ten in Geography. So who’s Mr Flynn’s little swotty suck-up, then???

Anyway, this proud, slightly nauseating achievement was for my work on little bit of local industrial history…

How up to the minute can you get when it comes to secondary school reportage? For those with eyesight even worse than mine, the last paragraph on this page reads ‘Billingham is in the news today because a firm called Nirex are planning to dump Nuclear waste in a disused Anhydrite mine that belongs to I.C.I.’

Amazingly, this is true. And – even more amazingly – the BAND (Billingham Against Nuclear Dumping) protest group managed to secure their victory against The Man, and the cavernous mines – disused since the late 1970s – remain nuclear waste-free. Hooray!

I’d completely forgotten about the whole controversy, but now I’ve started digging on Google, it’s all flooding back to me. It dominated the local news headlines for months, and sent a slight frisson of nervousness through me, as I’d now developed a minor phobia about anything remotely nuclear-related,  mainly inspired by a) Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Two Tribes’, and b) the constant, very real prospect of nuclear armageddon. It seems slightly surreal looking back at my childhood that the fear of an imminent nuclear war between the USA and USSR was something that we lived with every day…  and it was referenced constantly in films, pop music, newspapers and TV comedy shows.

You see, yer kids today, they don’t know the meaning of yer real phobias. All they have to worry about are I-Phone updates and the 2012 Mayan prophecies. In 1984, I spent a few seconds of every single day pondering whether the brick coal bunker on the side of the garage would provide adequete shelter from a direct Soviet nuclear assault on Thornaby.

‘Fred The Dragonfly’ meanwhile, was my first-ever CDT (‘Remember lads, this subject is NOT called DT… there’s no design and technology without craft, is there?’) project, and comprised… well, a vague dragonfly shape hewn out of plywood using the saw with which – seven years later – poor Mr Haig removed the tip of his right thumb. Apparently the screams were heard as far away as the Language Labs. To make matters worse, he was the bassist in The Plinky Plonks, the band fronted by our deliriously insane sociology teacher Mr Webster. I don’t think they ever played live again, out of sheer respect.

Anyway, here’s my totem pole…

Amazingly, I didn’t managed to shoehorn a Cyberman, Davros or Poggy Doggy in there somewhere. I must have been slipping. Only a B- grade from Mrs Mainwaring-Taylor as well! Yegods, she was a difficult woman to please. Presumably the budding Michaelangelos that got A+ marks for their totem poles painted them on the ceiling of Yarm Parish Church, giving the occasional cheeky wink and thumbs up to Peter Musk, Yarm’s flat-capped odd job maestro, passing by the open church doorway with his Flymo.



  Thing wrote @

The one standing on the banana ears on the totem pole looks like he’s covering up his privates from something being thrown at him.

Regarding US and USSR fears, don’t forget Comrade Dada, with George Cole, which I think debuted on TV at the end of the same year you’re covering.

  Thing wrote @

Sorry, I meant Comrade Dad, of course.

Comrade Dada is of course, the other sitcom, where George Cole plays a Communist Dadaist artist in Paris, forever getting tangled up in funny scrape with Situationists and Existensialists. Ronnie Barker in a false moustache played Salvador Dali in that one.

  bobfischer wrote @


I’d forgotten all about Comrade Dad. Yeah, there was a pilot in December 1984, and a full series in early 1986. About a family living in ‘Londongrad’ after a full Soviet invasion, wasn’t it? With George Cole’s character being an old school communist who thought it was marvellous. With, no doubt, hilarious consequences.

I can’t remember watching the pilot, but I definitely watched the series – I remember there being a huge amount of expectation, largely because Minder was absolutely MASSIVE in 1985/6… one of the biggest shows on TV. Seem to recall it didn’t quite live to the hype, but I’d be interested to see it again.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Haha Thing-I was gonna make the same comment about the Totem Pole ;p

  janet haigh wrote @

mr haigh’s name was spelt with an h at the beginning and end. thank you.

  bobfischer wrote @

The man standing on the banana ears is preparing to defend Boro’s goalmouth from a vicious free kick on the egde of the penalty area.

Janet – you’re right, of course. I can’t believe it’s taken me 25 years for this occur to me, but you weren’t related, were you?

  janet haigh wrote @

we weren’t, i’m just being a super-pedant on his behalf!

  bobfischer wrote @

Quite right, too. Although I’d say you’re being more pernickety than pedantic. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: