Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 325

Tuesday 20th November 1984

I got up at 8.15, and at 8.30 Doug and Gaz came and we went to school. First was English, then RE, then English. Then I was nicked in Drama.

At 12.00 I had my packed lunch in the tennis courts, and when I came in it was French. After that it was Maths then HE. I came home at 3.40 and at 5.00 I had tea, then at 5.10 I watched Star Trek.

At 6.00 Doug came and we went to youth club, and we were going to play badminton but decided not to and had a go on the tiddlywinks assault course with Potter. At 8.00 I came home and saw Des O’Connor and at 9 I went to bed.

At last! Some proper work. And a brace of English lessons that I remember with great fondness, as we got to study some Haikus. I’d never heard the word before, but I was fascinated by them. The poems themselves were all provided by Mrs McDonald on a photocopied sheet, but the musings underneath are all mine…

Bright the full moon shines
on the matting of the floor
shadows of the pines

This makes me think of a moonlit forest in winter, at midnight. I can almost see the shadowy leaves on the ground, almost hear the wind rustling through the trees. I really like this poem.

Up the barley rows
stitching, stitching them together
a butterfly goes

This poem makes me imagine a bright summer day, with corn blowing in the soft breeze. In the background I can see golden fields and hills, and a huge white sun in a deep blue sky. I can also see the butterfly, flickering about above the barley and dashing from side to side in a jumble of colour.

It looks like a man
the scarecrow in the moonlit night
and it is pitiful

I think this is a sad poem. It makes me ‘see’ a lone scarecrow, trapped in a dark night and unable to move. I can see a full moon in the background casting long, eerie shadows and I can almost believe that the scarecrow is anxiously, but sadly, waiting for dawn.

The summer river
although there is a bridge, my horse
goes through the water

This makes me think of a bright summer day in the country. I think that the man on the horse is an old farmer, and the horse is an old-fashioned type wearing blinkers. I can almost see the sun shine and dance on the trickling river, and some small green trees next to the old, stone, hump-backed bridge.

I was a romantic little soul, wasn’t I? I can remember being utterly entranced by all four of these, and the deep impressions and evocations created by such incredibly economic use of language. I had a crack at writing two of my own, as well…

The huge clawed wave, with a spray
of freezing ice, falls crashing and roaring
like a lion enclosed

The forest, green and dark
full of wonderful things
a place of magic

(A) Merit from Mrs McDonald for both of these. Get in!!!!

And getting ‘nicked’ in Drama – fantastic! I think I might have written about this in a previous blog entry, as I thought it came a little earlier in the term, so apologies for repeating myself. But our Drama classes (rapidly becoming my favourite lesson, thanks to the innovative teaching genius of Mr Harrison, my gurning, hilarious spiritual leader) were playing host to a rolling, continuing, improvised play.

Every lesson, we were acting out the saga of being the crew on a long, interstellar journey to the far reaches of the universe. Stopping only at the tuck shop round the back of Block 4 to stock up on Wham Bars and Fanta. I’d taken the role of ‘Mr Weirdo’, a technical designer. In a moment of downtime on our voyage to the stars, I decided to show off to Jonathan ‘Nobby’ Haworth by pretending to tear a rack of invisible cables from the ship’s equally invisible propulsion unit.

Mischievously, Nobby instantly reported me to our towering, chain-smoking ‘Captain Eric T Harrison’. Mr H, throwing himself into the role, promptly slammed me in the ship’s imaginary ‘brig’ (behind a stack of plastic trays at the entrance to the DT department).  For the next few Drama lessons, I had to act the part of the ship’s traitor… a role that actually had me a LITTLE bit worried – because although Mr H was obviously acting the role, it still felt like… well, being shouted at by my teacher! Great fun though, and meat and drink (or at least Wham Bars and Fanta) to a sci-fi obsessed daydreamer like me.

I’m a bit baffled as to why I brought a packed lunch to school after so many months of happy hot-dinner-eating, but can only wonder if industrial action had hit the kitchen staff again? Whatever, I do remember eating a series of blinding white egg sandwiches and a Ski Yoghurt while crouched against the metal fence of the tennis courts in a howling, roaring Teesside hurricane. I think I did this for a few days in a row, and I felt like a hardy pioneer, fending for myself out in the wild. (All nonsense, of course, as no hardy pioneer in the world would be seen dead with a Ski Yoghurt. They were Munch Bunch eaters, to a man…)

I’ve been thinking about my Home Economics lessons recently (I lead a busy and active life) and realised that I should have an exercise book from these kicking around somewhere… but it isn’t with the rest of them, so it’s possible it hasn’t survived the journey through 25 years worth of dusty family attics. We didn’t JUST spend our HE lessons making foul concoctions (Blancmange a la Snot being the latest addition to our culinary repertoire), we actually did some theory work as well.

Or at least, we were MEANT to. With HE being the last lesson of the day, and – let’s face it – a bit of a doss, what tended to happen was that the usual suspects (me, Burton, Farrage, Thompson etc… although I think Doug was put into a seperate class for HE) gathered around a plastic table for 70 minutes and spent the entire lesson talking shite, occasionally pausing to copy something from a textbook into our jotters every time the feared Mrs Gillson walked past.

Vague memories of HE theory lessons from this period…

1. A lot of the stuff we had to copy down was centred around nutritional theory… vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, all that kind of gubbins. One of these paragaphs listed ‘peas, beans and lentils’ as good sources of protein, a section that resulted in much hilarity around the table, because lentils were – of course – the staple diet of Neil The Hippy from The Young Ones. This led to at least a week’s worth of repeating Neil’s legendary mantra ‘We plant the seeds… nature grows the seeds… we eat the seeds’ until it drove our teachers absolutely up the bloody wall. I remember Vince Potter doing it solidly for at least 20 minutes during one of Mr Warren’s science lessons.

2. Me singing repeatedly the song from a Christmas advert for a child’s bathtime toy called ‘Rub-A-Dub-Doggie’. One of those insanely catchy commerical jingles that advertising executives seem to have forsaken these days, preferring to keep their adverts moody and ambient. As I sang it, Marc Thompson looked me seriously in the eye, pointed at me, and said ‘I want a Rub-A-Dub Doggie’ in the most sinister, terrifying voice imaginable. For the rest of the lesson we chortled into our pencil cases as Alistair Burton endlessly repeated the phrase ‘In the Big Yell0w… TEAPOT!’ in a piercing, high-pitched screech. Mrs Gillson eventually split us up.

(And bugger me, I’ve just found the Rub-A-Dub Doggie advert on Youtube… this has made my head go all swimmy and gooey…)

3. One of our textbooks referring to the importance of maintaining a healthy iron intake, ‘especially for women and girls during their periods’. We were so shocked by this brazenly adult intrusion into our grotty little world that we actually shut the f*** up for over thirty seconds. And I think it took another twenty minutes for the Big Yellow… TEAPOT to reappear.

And my sporting prowess continues to flourish… all hail my bold Gladiatorial efforts on the Tiddlywinks Assault Course. Needless to say, I didn’t wink a single tiddly into the right place all night. Or do you tiddle your winks? I can’t remember. Either way, I stormed off in a huff before the end of Youth Club and watched Des O’Connor Tonight in a silent, brooding sulk.


  Dr Giles Parcel wrote @

We read Fischer’s haiku
our world at once seems more calm
we point and laugh

  Chris Orton wrote @

Mention of The Munch Bunch makes me remember the real Munch Bunch from back in those days. The brand is still around evidently, but these days the characters are a bunch of animals of some sort (god knows why), rather than the fruit and vegetable characters that they used to be. I used to have a Munch Bunch cassette with stories featuring the characters on it, read by Matthew Kelly. More on The Munch Bunch here:


  bobfischer wrote @

The Munch Bunch have changed!!!!

Did we get a regeneration scene? It’s like Paul McGann all over again.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

You obviously don’t watch the ads on the kids channels then (nickelodeon etc) I see them in between eps of SpongeBob and they’re just like the rub a doggy wotsit one

  bobfischer wrote @

Ha, really? I though the age of adverts you can sing along to had died out completely. 25 years on, I still occasionally find myself singing ‘If you like a lot a chocolate on your biscuit, join our Club…’. But with most of the ‘adult’ adverts these days, I can’t actually tell you what they were advertising thirty seconds after I’ve watched them.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

You’re right about today’s ads. I always reach for the remote straight away because I cant stand 99% of them and also because they whack the volume up (extremely loud on nickelodeon-makes me angry, trying to brainwash kids!). I also get pissed off when I think of people sitting in board rooms trying to figure out the next ad campaign and what we see is the result of it, ie mostly c**p!

Bah Humbug ;p

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