Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 307

Friday 2nd November 1984

I got up at 8.00 and watched Rik Mayall on Breakfast Time, then at 8.30 Doug and Gazzie came and we went to school. First we were supposed to be having gymnastics, but we had to go out and watch the rotten house rugby!

After that it was French and we played a geedy game involving running to the blackboard and crossing out a number. Aftert that it was Geography and as most of the class were out playing house rugby, we just sat and did absolutely nowt!

At 12.00 it was dinner and I got *4* drinks (burp!) then when we came in it was Maths. After that it was Music, and in the break I had to go to the toilet after those drinks! Last was Science and Jo, Vince, Byers and I dug some creepy crawlies out of some leaves.

At 3.40 I came home, and at 5.00 I had tea, then I went upstairs and made a card for mam under the excuse that I was doing a new Fighting Fantasy! At 8.00 I came down and watched Play your cards right, then I went upstairs and copies some of Ozzie’s Now 3 tape.

However it didn’t work so at 9.30 I went in the shower and at 9.35 I went to bed. Phew!

Rik Mayall was doing the publicity rounds, wasn’t he? I’m guessing he was plugging the Young Ones book, ‘Bachelor Boys’, which 65.3% of the male population of Conyers School seemed to acquire for Christmas in 1984 (not me though, I was still gettng the Doctor Who Annual). In all honesty, I didn’t need to own it, as there were at least four copies being circulated around our form group within twenty seconds of the January term starting. It’s fabulous, and I still remember the thrill I got on learning Neil the Hippy’s ACTUAL SURNAME (‘Pye’, in case the tension is too much to bear) and the fact that Vyvyan’s full name is ‘Vyvyan Basterd’…

And hell’s teeth… is there any phrase more certain to strike fear into the heart than ‘House Rugby’? Thankfully I’d been born without the crucial rugby gene that made boys balloon to 20 stone by the age of 17, wee in each others drinks and have an insatiable, pathological desire to sing ‘The Hair On Her Dickie-Di-Do’ to single women in nightclubs. But that still didn’t stop Mr Anderson and Mr Neilson rounding up us hapless non-rugby-playing saps with a cattle prod and forcing us onto the touchlines to watch our beefier classmates knocking seven bells out of each other on a pitch consisting entirely of frozen dogpoo.

I think I spent the entire double lesson talking about Doctor Who with Chris Byers, pausing occasionally to sidestep a headlong Gaz Norman, crashing helplessly through the bystanders in a series of desperate attempts to escape a game whose rules appeared to be improvised on the spot as part of Mr Harrison’s Drama Workshop.

Still, it got us out of Geography! The game was still raging by the end of break at 10.50am, so the male population of our class was reduced to me, Chris Byers and Jo Spayne – who, despite being a supremely gifted footballer – spent pretty much his entire secondary school career tactically ‘forgetting’ his PE kit so he could stay in the warm and work on being the most spectacularly talented artist in the school instead. So Mr Flynn decided we might as well ‘have the lesson off for some quiet reading’… yay! Two more chapters of John Christopher’s ‘The White Mountains’ bite the dust.

Bizarrely, I can remember really distinctly the four drinks that I bought from our school canteen… they were basically blackcurrent squash (with, no doubt, EEC regulations preventing them from EVER being described as ‘juice’) in translucent plastic cartons, with a flimsy film lid and a bendy straw sellotaped to the side. They were rancid, but contained enough tartrazine and artificial flavouring to make them more addictive than methodone.

 It was also swiftly discovered by the amateur scientists of 1CW that if we placed the empty cartons on the ground, top down, and jumped on them with a reasonable degree of force, they exploded with the strength of a North Korean missile test, creating an ear-buggering CRACK that ricocheted off the Sports Hall wall with an hilarious, irresistable intensity.

If six of us could co-ordinate our leaps to produce a series of simultaneous explosions, then the resulting racket sounded like an RAF Tornado was flying through the main school courtyard. I also have vague memories of a FULL carton of (ahem) ‘fruit drink’ being detonated inside Vincent Potter’s sports bag, thus coating two full months worth of school work in sticky, sugary glop. But I honestly can’t remember how this actually came about… any 1CW veterans fancy filling in the gaps?

Conversely, I have no recollection at all of digging ‘some creepy crawlies out of some leaves’, but seeing as Mr Byers was undoubtedly involved, I’m sure him and his extraordinary memory can help out! (PS It wasn’t the locust dissection… that’s a few weeks away)

And yes, a bit of surreptitious card-marking. Saturday 3rd November 1984 was my Mum’s 43rd birthday, so – having blammed all my spare pocket money on blackcurrent drinks at dinnertime – I was reduced to that perennial tightwad schoolboy last resort… making a birthday card myself. The conversation between Doug and I during the day went thus…

Me: ‘I haven’t got any money to buy my mother a birthday card’
Doug: ‘Make her one. It’ll mean far more to her than you going out and spending a few pennies on some cheap thing from Strickland and Holt. She’ll be delighted that you actually sat down and spent the time making something yourself…’  
Me: ‘You’re lying’
Doug: ‘I know’

Didn’t stop me, though. I’ve no idea for certain what was on it, but it WILL have incorporated a cartoon version of Poggy Doggy. Hastily coloured-in with a felt-tip pen so I didn’t miss the start of Play Your Cards Right…



  Thing wrote @

I know Rik Mayall was interviewed on the radio about this time and read out his Ode to Felicity Kendal from the book (“Felicity, Felicity, You Fill me With Electricity…”).

As it happens, I was recently having a quick glance through Michael Palin’s second volume of diaries, covering the 80s, and found an entry where he mentions going to a signing for the Bachelor Boys book sometime around the era you’re currently covering, where, I think, Ben Elton and Rik Mayall autographed it for him, and he had a chat with them about whether they’d be doing any more episodes. Mayall was emphatic that they wouldn’t be.

I don’t know if you watched it at the time or mentioned it in your diary, but the very next day, 3 November, Rik Mayall had a guest appearance on Cannon and Ball’s series, turning up in a travel agent sketch with them.

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

Perhaps the leaf-hunt was in order to find specimens for a lecture on the uses of formaldehyde and other preserving agents?
I daresay the EEC-approved blackcurrant drink would have been just as effective, though if it had been orange drink you boys would have been able to mimic the amber preservation process.

  Chris Byers wrote @

Afraid to say I only have a vague memory of collecting the creepy crawlies. I do remember however doing an exercise on animals and insects in which we had to identify different species and say if they were warm or cold blooded or if they were a vertebrate or invertebrate, so maybe it was something to do with that.

As for the House Rugby match, I think nothing sums up our sporting ability any better than after only two months into our Conyers career both Mr Neilson and Mr Anderson had already decided we were hopeless cases and we were banished to the side lines.

One thing I would like to mention on the sporting front. As these days I am a bit of a Formula 1 nut I would like to say huge congratulations to former Conyers pupil Andrew Shovlin. Who as race engineer to Jenson Button played a huge part in him wining the F1 world title. I suspect it as near as anyone from Conyers will ever get to sporting success

  bobfischer wrote @

Thanks Thing – managed to dig out the Cannon and Ball clip on Youtube, amazing stuff!

Dr Parcel – I think we found a few interesting specimens on the leaves that day, but sadly very few were of the insect variety.

And Chris – yep, that’s pretty much what we were doing! It’s in my Science exercise book for this very day. I can’t remember though if Mr Warren dumped a load of leaves on our tables for us to rummage through, or if we actually ventured outside into the fields…?

And wow – I had no idea about Andrew Shovlin’s F1 career! That’s amazing. Last time I saw him, I think I was throwing Newcastle Brown Ale over him at the Kirk circa 1994. The closest I’ve ever got to shaking a champagne bottle on a podium…

  Chris Byers wrote @

From what I recall we did venture out into the fields to have a rummage through the bushes, but I doubt we came across many creepy crawlies. What is far more likely is that we discovered a load of 4th and 5th formers skiving off House Rugby and having a fag.

And as for Mr Shovlin, I am pleased to say he did actually make it on to the podium at the Malaysian grand prix this year to collect the winning constructers trophy. If your interested there’s loads about him if you Google him.

  bobfischer wrote @

That is mental! Thanks Mr B, I had absolutely no idea…


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