Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 345

Monday 10th December 1984

I got up at 8.00, then Doug and Gaz came and we went to school. First was maths, then History, then country dancing!!!!!!!!!!

At 12.00 I had dinner, then it was maths, French, English, geog and maths. At 3.40 I came home and I had tea. After that I made a Reindeer for the Xmas cake, then I did homework.

At 7.00 I went out, at 8.00 I watched Rising damp, at 8.30 I went outside. I went to bed at 9.30.

Country dancing!!! I won’t get carried away and use quite as many exclamation marks as my 12-year-old self, but this was NEARLY as much of a shock to me today as it was back in 1984. Honestly, you turn up to school expecting a perfectly pleasant hour of systematic, humiliating ritual violence on the rugby pitch, and what do you get? ‘Grab your pard’ner by the dick, swing him round until he’s sick…’ (lyrics copyright P. Slack, 1984)

Yep, as we slouched into our changing rooms, a grinning Mr Nielson was leaning nonchalently against the door frame. ‘Got something a little bit different for you this morning, gentlemen…’ he smiled, his moustache bristling with accumulated Ralgex. To our horror, the Sports Hall doors swung open to reveal the formidable Miss Smith (female PE teacher… brrrr….) already barking ferociously at her usual Monday morning girls class, lining them up against the back wall like blinking, nervous cattle.


‘Morning gentlemen,’ said Miss Smith, casually cracking a knuckleduster. ‘Seeing as it’s Christmas, we’ve got a little bit of a treat for you… I’d like you to wander over to the girl you fancy the most, and we’ve got an hour of LOVELY COUNTRY DANCING to entertain you with…’ All of this delivered with an air of delirious, dripping sarcasm that made Jimmy Carr look like Duncan Norvelle.

The resulting melee of terror, confusion, hostility and downright panic remains as vivid today as it was 25 years ago. At least four members of our PE class tried to make a bolt for the exit, only for Mr Anderson to push them back into the hall, bolting the swinging double doors behind him. I think Stephen Mason attempted to dig a tunnel in the corner, and Messrs Slack and Sugden were already constructing a makeshift light aircraft from shiny white toilet roll holders.

The more (ahem) ‘forward’ of my male classmates, meanwhile, wasted no time whatsoever in stampeding towards their favourite cowering female, gleefully seizing the opportunity for an hours-worth of school-approved groping and slobbering. The rest of us – me included – tiptoed timidly to our equally terrified-looking female counterparts and meekly mumbled ‘wouldyouliketobemypartner’ while staring at our feet. 

I honestly can’t remember who my partner was. If the poor girl ever reads this, and does remember, then I’m sorry. I spent the entire lesson flailing my arms around and stamping on your feet while resolutely refusing to make eye contact. We spent an hour working on what Miss Smith laughably referred to as ‘routines’… linking arms, dancing in circles, ‘bowing to our pard’ners’ and making arches with our outstretched arms. All to a soundtrack of hideous fiddly-diddly music played on a portable cassette recorder in the corner of the Sports Hall. Mr Nielson and Mr Anderson spent the entire lesson leaning against the breezeblock wall with their hands in their tracksuit pockets, watching us go through our ‘paces’ with barely-concealed hilarity.


Finally, at 11.55am, the bell rang. I deposited my poor female pard’ner on the squeaky wooden floor (‘NO OUTDOOR SHOES BEYOND THIS POINT’) and ran for my life. ‘Same again on Friday!’ shouted Mr Nielson as we left. ‘And I want you all in cowboy costumes for the Christmas Barn Dance next Monday!’ I had no idea any of this was on the horizon, and I actually felt a bit faint as I bolted back into the changing room. Mr Neilson and Mr Anderson were rolling around the floor, kicking their legs in the air with tears streaming down their faces.

The rest of the day passed in a blur after that. There’s nothing in any of my schoolbooks dated 10th December 1984, so it’s possible I was too traumatised to write. I sat like a Vietnam veteran at my desk, my thousand-yard-stare boring into Mr Flynn’s fluffy sheep jumper.


Then I came home and –  in complete silence – made a model reindeer from brown and white pipecleaners and cut-out bits of paper. Occupational therapy, just like Nurse Ratchett gave to the patients in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. If my Dad had had chance to rig something up with the toaster and the oven gloves, I’d have been receiving Electric Shock Therapy long before the end of Rising Damp.

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4 Comments»

  The Reverend Marcus Carcass wrote @

I can’t wait to read about your do-si-do in tufted chaps.

  bobfischer wrote @

Both tufted chaps were off ill that day. They had letters from their mams.

  Thing wrote @

Wouldn’t that sort of thing be considered cruel to girls these days? And what were boys supposed to do if there wasn’t anyone they fancied?

  bobfischer wrote @

I think it was considered cruel to girls in those days, but none of us were in a position to argue.

If there wasn’t anyone you fancied, you just went for the girl who looked likely to offer the least resistance. An approach I attempted to perfect in a variety of Teesside nightclubs between 1991-99. 🙂


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