Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 306

Thursday 1st November 1984

Woke up at 8.00, then at 8.30 Gazzie came. At 8.45 Doug and Burton came and we all went to school. First was Science (I got a merit), then it was Music. After that came Geog, and at 12.00 I had dinner.

When I went out me and Gazzie won the final at tennis ball football, then first lesson when we came in was DT. When that finished, it was RE, and last was History. I came home at 3.40 and got changed, then I played football outside.

At 5.00 I had tea, then at 5.25 I watched Henry’s Cat. I watched Grange Hill at 5.30, and at 7.00 I watched Tommorrow’s world. At 7.20 I watched Top of the pops, at 8.00 I watched Don’t wait up, and at 8.30 I watched Zoo 2000.

I went to bed at 9.00.

Yay! Good to see my ‘walking to school’ entourage gaining a few extra numbers. Both Gareth ‘Gazzie’ Jones and Alistair ‘Burton’ Burton lived in the outlying villages, so no doubt their parents jumped at the chance to offload them from the family car at our house rather than fight their way through a gridlock of parental Vauxhall Cavaliers to Conyers School gates (although admittedly, in 1984, ‘school run’ traffic was a fraction of what it is today. Most of my school contemporaries were simply thrown out of the front door at 8.45am by a mother determined not to be disturbed until the end of The Young Doctors at 3.55pm)

And, clearly, that spirit of unity clearly stood me and Gazzie Jones in good stead when it came to the World Tennis Ball Football championships at 12.20pm! (Naturally it was important to wolf down our school dinners like famished dogs at 12.01pm, to maximise racing-about-like-blue-arsed-flies time for the rest of our allotted dinner hour)

This fiercely-fought tournament took place against the side wall of the school sports hall, a gigantic brick building only slightly smaller than the average Mayan temple. In a nutshell… one hapless sap got to go in ‘goal’ (a vague portion of the wall marked only by two piles of stacked-up Puma sports bags at either side, and with a non-existant upper limit, stretching skyward to infinity) while at least 14 teams of two strapping filthy lads chased a fluffy tennis ball around a vast, swamp-like patch of grass, occasionally lamping the thing with thunderous ferocity towards the makeshift goalmouth.

Gazzie and I clearly won the game for one reason, and one reason alone… Mr Jones is, was, and surely always will be, the HARDEST KICKER OF A BALL I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. Including every single professional footballer I’ve ever watched on TV or in the flesh, from the GM Vauxhall Conference to the World Cup Final. His shots at goal were terrifying things when we were 11 years old, and the last time I played football with him – nearly ten years ago, when we were in our late twenties – his technique had been perfected to such an extent that I’m convinced he’s at least partly responsible for the US Defence Department’s Pan-European Missile Defence System.

Which clearly came a bit late for our poor, bewildered goalkeeper Christopher Herbert, who spent the rest of the afternoon solemnly peeling his fingers from the sports hall wall after making an unwise attempt to stop Mr Jones’ thunderous, clinching, 35-yard half-volley.

Academically, not a lot to report from this day… in science, we’d moved onto animal biology, and were looking at the differences between vertebrates (Duckbilled Platypus, Spiny Anteater) and invertebrates (Bristle Worm, Sea Cucumber); and in Geography I learnt the word ‘Conurbation’, to describe a conglomeration of towns and villages (Middlesbrough – Billingham – South Bank – Grangetown).

And then I came home by myself, and had to wait outside the back door until The Young Doctors finished at 3.55pm.

Henry’s Cat, though! Fantastic. I’d forgotten all about this, but I’ve just checked and I can still do the impression that I perfected in late 1985 if anyone sees me in the street and would like to request it…

And ‘Don’t Wait Up’! An opening title sequence that I haven’t seen for over 20 years, but I’ve just been immediately transported back to any number of bleak, dark pubescent nights prodding at my  Geography homework on the coffee table while my Mum’s knitting needles click-clacked on the settee and my Dad slipped into his muddy, grey dog-walking jacket…

Meanwhile, I’m guessing Zoo 2000 was a typically plummy BBC1 documentary attempting to guess what the country’s most famous zoos would be like 26 years into the future, at the turn of the space-age millenium? (And, presumably, failing miserably to predict the correct answer, which was – of course – ‘exactly the same as they are in 1984’)



  Rhonda Civic wrote @

The next time you are walking past Yarm Castle I will stop you in the street. I want to see your Henry’s Cat impression at least twice.
It better be good!
Sum1 from your year showed me his Flash from Pigeon Street one time, it was RUBBISH.

  bobfischer wrote @


I remember Christopher Herbert doing a sensational Jamie And The Magic Torch, although it always a source of great relief when he put the Magic Torch away.

  Rhonda Civic wrote @

Oh yes! He showed me his ‘Dusty Mop’ once. I didn’t hang around to see his ‘Humphrey Cushion’.

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