Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 347

Wednesday 12th December 1984

I got up at 8.10, then Dougie came and we went to school. First was Art, then History, then maths. At 12.00 I had Christmas dinner, then it was French, English and Science.

At 3.40 I came home and at 5.00 I watched


at 5.25 I watched THE GOOD LIFE, then Dad and I did our homework. At 7.30 I watched Sharon and Elsie, at 8.00 I watched


A 8.45 I watched POINTS OF VIEW and at 9.20 I went 2 BED.

Blimey, does my diary entry from 25 years ago today finish with a bit of text-speak? Truly, I was ahead of my time. lol, ūüėČ

I was certainly still jazzing it up with a few little quirky drawings and whatnot, here’s my actual diary entry for this day…

Slightly rubbish ‘box’ for The Box of Delights, decidedly top-heavy. Bearing that in mind, it’s probably a good job I didn’t attempt to draw a little Felicity Kendall next to ‘The Good Life’. I wouldn’t have¬†been able to¬†sleep for days (Not that¬†I could¬†anyway, we were T-13 days and¬†counting from ZX Spectrum Day at this point…)¬†¬†

And I’d completely forgotten about ‘Christmas Dinner Day’ at school! A tradition that lasted all through Levendale Primary, and as far into my Conyers career as I got before giving up on school dinners completely (about another three months after this). But… clearly another sure-fire sign that Christmas was – in the words a song I’d never heard in 1984 – ‘just around the corner’. Our dinner ladies would festoon their yellow pinnies with tinsel and dangle baubles from their knuckledusters and we’d be served, in our usual white plastic trays, a ‘Christmas dinner’ comprising…

1. A tiny slice of turkey that appeared to have been in cold storage since the end of rationing in 1957
2. Three roast potatoes the same colour (and consistency) of lunar rock
3. A selection of vaguely indeterminate green vegetables… possibly sprouts, possibly beans, possibly slightly off-colour cauliflower…
4. Gravy thick enough to support an completely perpendicular fork. Even when you turned the tray upside down.

And I love the wry ‘Dad and I did our homework’ line! This seems to have been maths homework, which I always struggled with…¬† and long division at that, which – as far as I was concerned – might as well have been written in hieroglyphics. Go on, have a go… this is a genuine question from my 12th December¬†1984 homework,¬†to be worked out longhand (AND ALL CANDIDATES MUST SHOW THEIR WORKING OUT OR MARKS¬†MAY BE DEDUCTED)

1.9812 divided by 0.039 = …..?

I’m 37 years old and I’ve absolutely no idea where to start. And, what’s more, I’m still slightly concerned that Mrs Clark (without the ‘E’) will come to hunt me down with a metre-long ruler in the morning.



  Thing wrote @

Right, I think I’ve worked it out now (this is my third attempt!). A good way of making it easier for that bit of division is to get rid of as many decimal points as you can by multiplying the figures by 100, 1000 or whatever it takes.

For this one it’s possible to multiply each number by a thousand which makes it 1981.2 divided by 39 (we could even go further and make it 19812 divided by 390, but the latter’s a more difficult figure for division).

So, basically, it’s how many 39s are in 1981.2? Well, 10 x 39 is 390, double that is 780, add another makes 1170, then 1560, and 1950. So 5 x 390 is 1950.

So it’s 5, with 31 remaining (ie the difference between 1950 and 1981), which we carry over to the .2 bit of the number. We multiply the 31 by 10, because the 2 represents a tenth of the value of the preceding digit. So, 312 divided by 39, which comes to 8 exactly (390 minus 78, the latter equalling 39 x 2). The 8 is a decimal figure because it’s the .2 which is being divided,so the answer should be:

1.9812 divided by 0.039 equals 50.8.

  Thing wrote @

Sorry, slight erratum, I should have added that, having established that 5 x 390 = 1950, this means 50 x 39 also equals 1950.

So I should have said at the start of the second last paragraph, “So, it’s 50, with 31 remaining…” Doesn’t affect the answer, I just forgot to mention it was necessary to do that. I wouldn’t make a very good teacher!

  Chris Orton wrote @

Has anybody, EVER, made any use of long division since they left school? Or most maths come to think of it…

  Thing wrote @

I could imagine that architects or other people working in the construction industry and some kinds of engineers and physicists might need to.

Oh, and of course, there’s the darts players and commentators, who need to be able to work out how much of various amounts comprise their required score, although admittedly that’s less likely to involve decimals…

  Sue Barew wrote @

I have read what Thing wrote about long division 3 times and I still cannot work out how to do it. I guess I am not born to maths???

I am amazed you had turkey at school.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Oh I loved xmas dinner day at my junior school. It’s one of my fave memories. We’d be sat at tables in groups from each yr and the 4th years would serve the food. I remember the food being delicious and I was so excited to get to 4th year so I could do the serving!
Happy times :O)

  bobfischer wrote @

Amazing work, Thing! Yes, 50.8 is the answer in my Maths exercise book. I didn’t show my working out though, so my Dad must have done it. And yes, I was docked marks…

I still genuinely can’t make head nor tail of it. If my only career option ever comes down to a job that requires long division, I’m going to drop out of society and live in a cave by a nice Loch. And whittle things.

And Fiona… I can’t believe you were allowed to SERVE the food! That would never have happened at our school. The Dinner Lady Unions would have been in uproar, for a start…

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