Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 323

Sunday 18th November 1984

At 6.30 we woke up, and we got up at 9.15. We had breakfast, then we played on the videopac till 12.00, when Doug went home and I had dinner. After dinner mam and I played Crossfire, then I watched Liverpool beat Newcastle 0-2.

After that I had tea, then I listened to the charts. At 7.15 I watched Ever Decreasing circles, at 7.45 I watched Big deal, at 8.30 I watched Just good friends and at 9.00 I went to bed.

Holy Moly, a full 2 hours and 45 minutes of arsing around in my bedroom before we got up! I could NEVER EVER sleep for any length of time when one of my mates stayed over for the night… the excitement was just too much. So although Doug and I will have been up until at least 2am, talking shite and giving Chewbacca obscene felt-tip appendages on my Star Wars wallpaper, it’s no surprise at all that I was wide awake and ready for action barely four hours later.

I think Doug (curled up under my yellow bedspread while I sprawled on a camp bed on the floor) was a bit more reluctant to reach consciousness, but we were throwing ourselves into a heated discussion about personal snogging techniques long before a pale, tired November sun began to creep its fingers around the edges of my cracked, peeling windowsill. My parents tried to sleep through our muffled laughter for an hour or two before my Mum finally gave up the ghost and brought us a pot of tea.

And then a morning spent playing Munchkin on the Philips Videopac G7000! I’d got this now entirely-forgotten games console for Christmas only 11 months earlier, but it already felt like ancient, obsolete technology. We hammered away at Munchkin for a couple of hours in the front room, watching Poggy Doggy potter around the gloomy, rain-sodden garden. My Mum, in her housecoat, stacked a pile of damp-smelling coal on the hearth and lit the front room fire. We huddled around these tiny, orange flickers for warmth, fanning the flames with silent farts and talking excitedly about Christmas and girls.

And then Doug went. And a lazy Sunday afternoon unfolded. It will have been Oxtail soup and pikelets for dinner, and then – amazingly – live football in the afternoon. 25 years ago today, Liverpool did indeed romp to a 2-0 victory away at Newcastle, with Steve Nicol scoring the opening goal and a last-minute clincher from moustachioed Escape To Victory star John Wark. Me and my Dad will have watched it in the front room, cheering and laughing at the plight of the hapless Geordies. 

Live league football on the telly in the mid-1980s was an amazing rarity, so all credit to ITV for pulling out the stops for this…

Terraces! Jimmy Greaves with brown hair! Joe Fagan smoking a fag on the bench! A soaking wet George Courtney! Tight, wet shorts clinging to flabby, white thighs! Ah, proper football, how I miss you with all my heart…

Oh, and Crossfire – in case you were wondering – is this…

I’d got it for Christmas in (I think) 1981, so by the end of 1984 it was well on the way to being banished to the loft. Two players use the red plastic guns to ping ball bearings across the polished wooden surface in a desperate attempt to steer a wobbly marble into each others’ goalmouths. EVERY SINGLE KID who requested Crossfire for Christmas in 1981 did so on the assumption that this would give them possession of two guns capable of shooting ball bearings huge distances through the air at high velocity.

It didn’t, of course… if you took the guns from their plastic mounts, they just ‘phutted’ the ball bearing onto the carpet like a silent fart or a Kenny Wharton volley (the latter being not quite as powerful as the former)

And then the usual Sunday dinner, and an evening curled up on the front room rug for some classic 1984-vintage weekend TV. And then back into my own bed, with the camp bed stored away for the next time Doug stayed over. Which, oddly, was in 1996. After Doug’s family moved to Australia, in December 1985, we lost contact completely for 11 years. Not a single solitary letter was exchanged. And then, on Boxing Day evening 1996, the phone rang at home… and it was him. Back in the UK for the first time in over a decade. At his Gran’s house in Thornaby.

I was so shocked I could barely speak. We got unfeasibly drunk in the pubs in Yarm High Street, and then staggered back to my parents’ old house. The same house. The same camp bed. Except this time Doug used it, as it was closer to the radiator and the Teesside winter had hit him rather hard. We were 24 years old by then, and it felt like my life had reached a lovely full circle.

And I’ve just realised that this incredibly recent-feeling night is now closer to 1984 than it is to 2009. And life seems even more fleeting than it usually does.



  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

These timey-wimey shocks keep on coming more and more often once you are over 21 I’ve found.

Astonishingly enough I too can remember watching (most of) that very same live game when it was shown, though under somewhat different circumstances. Without your efforts on this blog I’d never have been able to remember the exact date.

  bobfischer wrote @

Glad to be of service, Dr Parcel. I can’t resist asking… what were your circumstances on Sunday 18th November 1984?

  Fiona Tims wrote @


We had crossfire too though, great fun.

  bobfischer wrote @

I’ll bring mine down to the next RoS event we turn up to, and give you a game… 🙂

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