Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 337

Sunday 2nd December 1984

I got up at 10.00 and I sorted my whole bedroom out. At 11.00 I had breakfast, and at 12.30 I had dinner, then I played out on the tarzie till 2.25, when I watched the snooker.

At 5.00 I had tea, then I went upstairs and recorded some of the charts. At 7.15 I watched Ever Decreasing Circles, at 7.45 I watched Big deal, at 8.35 I watched The Snooker, and at 9.10 I went to bed.

What imagery comes to mind when I think of Christmas 1984? The ZX Spectrum 48K computer? Of course. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ Certainly. The Box of Delights? Oh yes. However, in amongst all of this glorious ephemera, this lovely, long-ago festive period is also completely summed up by…


Yep, I’ve no idea why, but from this day until the end of the year, every single one of my diary entries is scribbled in this lurid, crimson handwriting. I think I just reckoned it looked nicely festive. And genuinely… looking at those pages now brings the whole period flooding back in an incredibly evocative wave of nostalgia. It’s like the whole ‘script’ of Christmas 1984 – the excitement, the TV, the frantic present-buying and the marzipan-laden cake-baking – was written in that chunky red hand.

I went to bed every night with bright crimson fingertips. I think my Mother thought I’d been dabbling in Satanic worship and virgin sacrifice in my bedroom every night. Ha! The very thought. Where would you find a virgin in mid-1980s Yarm?

(In the middle of a Christmas carol, of course, where the line ’round yon virgin’ in the middle of ‘Silent Night’ was the cause of many a tittering outbreak in our last few Christmas singalongs at Levendale Primary School. Mrs Mulhern would roll her eyes, and carry on regardless as Slack, Sugden, Fischer, Mason et al creased up into laughter…)   

Anyway, huge thanks to my Mum for pointing out a huge flaw in yesterday’s blog entry (Yeah, HUGE thanks for that!). I was, of course, moaning about modern kids having their 2009 advent calendars filled chunky lumps of chocolate, whereas all we got in the 1980s were cartoon drawings of Der Ickle Baby Jesus.

However, she has – quite rightly – dropped me a line today to point out that I most certainly DID have chocolate advent calendars in the 1980s, because one year (wait for it)… OUR CAT ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATES!

Throughout almost all of my childhood, our house (mainly the fireside rug) played host to Sooty (pictured above). He was quite the most bone idle, truculent, self-centred, food-0bsessed egomaniac I’ve ever met in my life, which is quite some achievement considering I’ve worked in BBC local radio for the last 11 years. And yes… one early December during the 1980s we wandered in from the kitchen to find the advent calendar that had been happily hanging on the front room wall in tatters on the carpet, covered in frantic clawmarks and entirely devoid of chocolate!

And, nearby, a bloated and rather queasy-looking cat…

Unusually for me, I can’t remember which year this was at all, although Sooty’s last Christmas with us was in 1990, and I’m pretty sure it was a few years before that. I got a new calendar, and the cat got booted up the arse and shoved out in the cold for the night. I think he developed a taste for the harder stuff after that, and was on twenty Maltesers a day by the end of 1989. It was the beginning of the end…

The snooker on this day was the final of the British Championships, broadcast live from Preston all day on BBC2. Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis vs Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, with Steve winning by 16 frames to 8. I have two strange, fragmented memories of Steve Davis from around this time…

1. Steve and Alex Higgins being asked to pose holding the trophy between them, BEFORE the match took place. Alex obliged with his usual cheesy grin, but Steve – superstitiously – refused to touch the trophy, and just stood rather awkwardly nearby. Would that have been for this match? I can’t fnd another Davis vs Higgins final from around this time.

2. The Daily Mirror, the day after a major final, printing a rather cruel full front page picture of Steve Davis crying backstage during a break in the match. ‘THE DAY THE ROMFORD ROBOT CRACKED’, that kind of thing. Was that the day after this, or another tournament entirely?

If Len Ganley is passing by, feel free to give us your thoughts…

And I really DO remember, very vividly, recording the charts in my bedroom on this particular frosty evening! I had an ancient, tinny, black plastic transistor radio (whose battery cover had been chewed into a strange, gnarled shape by – I think – Poggy Doggy’s mother Jenny, when she was a puppy), and I pushed my little grey cassette recorder up against it, desperately trying to time the ‘Pause’ button to remove any trace of poor Richard Skinner from my recordings.

I got Murray Head’s ‘One Night In Bangkok’, Nik Kershaw’s ‘The Riddle’ and Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’ during this session, all sounding as though they’d been recorded on a wax cylinder during an Arctic blizzard. The latter of these, though, instantly provided Ian ‘Ozzie’ Oswald and I with the opportunity to write a spoof Madoona lyric based around our beloved Fighting Fantasy books.

‘We made it through the Forest of Doom… somehow we made it throuughhh… didn’t know how much stamina we had until we killed the trollll…’

Oh to be young, free and utterly bloody stupid. 



  Fiona Tims wrote @

Sooty ruled!

Nuff said.

  bobfischer wrote @

Our Sooty ruled the house, alright. We were just his staff.

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