Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 300

Friday 26th October 1984

Got up at 9.30, and at 10.30 Doug came. We went to Doug’s house and told Doug’s mam that Doug was staying at my house for dinner, and when we got back we had dinner.

Then we played Fighting Fantasy, and at 2.00 we went down the mud track, then down the riverbank, then to the mud track again, where we saw Griff.

At 5.00 I came home and had tea, then I typed up some more of The Moonstone dungeon for the Fighting Fantasy competition. Then I read House of Hell in Warlock, and at 11.30 I went to bed to be sick. 

Why didn’t we just phone Doug’s mother from my house to tell her Doug was staying for dinner? We must have been desperate for the feel of drizzle on our faces. Anyway, it’ll have been cheese-on-toast… it always was when Doug stayed for dinner. Two slices of white Mother’s Pride bread, toasted and coated in four slabs of bright orange, breezeblock-sized cheddar, in turn melted to the same temperature as the Earth’s inner core. Thanks to a entire childhood spent stuffing my face with this delicacy, I now have a mouth that can withstand boiling hot tea, and can usually polish off a steaming, fresh cup within seconds. I’m like Yarm’s own Hans Morretti.

A pretty listless afternoon, I think… we pottered around Yarm on our bikes in the gloom, no doubt stopping at the mud track to talk filth while rocking gently backwards and forwards on the kids’ swings. Around this time I began to seriously fancy myself as a writer (as well as just fancying myself in general) and would spend hours on the swings creating lurid, tall tales from nothing and spinning them to Doug – who, bless him, would give them his undivided attention and offer criticism and encouragements accordingly. 

I think the story I created on this very day concerned two starstruck lovers (clearly modelled on myself and Debbie Jarvis, or whichever other doe-eyed school honey I was fawning over at the time) racing against time to escape the SS Maximus, a luxury cruise liner sinking in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Against all the odds, they fought their way through untold terror into a lifeboat, and clung onto each others’ battered frames as they were rescued by another passing ship. However, as their new liner disappeared into the blackness of night, the name on the bow was reflected in a glancing shard of moonlight… the SS Titanic.

Lovely old hokum, of course, but I told it with ludicrous theatrical relish, and Doug gave me a thunderous round of applause at the end. For all we took the piss out of each other on a daily basis, we were always deadly serious in encouraging our respective passions and creative endeavours, and that’s what made the friendship so special. It wasn’t all knob gags and playful kicks up the arse. There was passion, and pride and poetry as well. Awwww. (And, naturally, I wrote up the entire story virtually word-for-word for one of Mrs McDonald’s English assigments a couple of months later. 9/10. Merit. Get in!)

Griff was Ian Griffiths, a cheeky, friendly lad in our Form Class 1CW. He was just wandering around by himself on a dreary half term afternoon, looking for someone he knew, and he found us. Hard luck, mate.

And yes!!! I was sick! A proper, hurling-the-guts-up chunder in the bathroom upstairs. I remember it really well… I was indeed reading Steve Jackson’s cracking ‘House Of Hell’ Fighting Fantasy adventure in the new Warlock magazine, laid out on the rug in front of a roaring coal fire. It was late – certainly after 11pm – and my Dad was giggling softly at some late-night Channel 4 comedy show, in fact I think it might even have been the notorious ‘Who Dares Wins’ with Tony Robinson and Rory McGrath… does that sound about right? Whatever it was, it was pretty risque stuff for me to be watching as an 11-year-old, but my parents were always cool about respecting my advancing tastes, and I’m very grateful for that.

But yeah… I was drinking some kind of cheap cherryade concoction from a wine glass, and suddenly looked up from my magazine with – apparently – a deathly white complexion. ‘Are you alright?’ asked my Mum, momentarily suspending the clack-clack-clack of her knitting needles.

‘I don’t feel very well… I think I might go to… be-e-e-e-e-e-e….’

With an impressive turn of pace, I charged up the stairs, shouldered open the bathroom door and discharged half a pint of cheap cherryade, a mushed-up bucketload of chips and at least one completely intact Mr Kipling’s almond slice into the toilet bowl. Our pale blue toilet seat had one of those horrible, fluffy, 1970s covers, and I remember looking at the string tied above the Royal Doulton logo with tears in my eyes and that truly horrible (yet strangely tangy) burning sensation at the back of my throat.

‘Where did that come from?’ asked my Mum, gently slipping a glass of tepid tapwater into my hand. ‘Something you’ve eaten?’

‘Cheese on toast,’ I replied, through panting gulps for breath. ‘Go easy on the cheddar next time…’  Given that, for the first sixteen years of my life, virtually everything I ate was either a) fried, b) deep fried or c) chocolate, I’m only amazed it didn’t happen more often.


  David Brunt wrote @

It won’t have been Who Dares Wins, unless it was a repeat.

The 1984 season was in the first half of the year.

  bobfischer wrote @

Fair enough! It was definitely one of those late-night, alt-comedy Channel 4 shows of the time… I thought it might have been Pushing Up Daisies, but that seems to have started the week after. I guess it might have been a Who Dares Wins repeat – I definitely remember watching them around this time, as I’m sure WDW was the first time I heard the f-word on TV. I was actually pretty shocked!

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: