Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 348

Thursday 13th December 1984

I got up at 8.00, then Doug came and we went to school. It was SCIENCE, MUSIC and GEOG, then at 12.00 I had dinner. Then I went to the stall for Miss Wilson and at 1.15 it was DT.

At 2.35 it was an RE test, then it was History and at 3.40 I came home and had tea. At 5.30 I saw Grange Hill, then I went outside. At 7.30 I saw TOP OF LE POPS –

BAND AID ARE NUMBER UN!

At 8.00 I watched Comercial breaks, and at 8.30 I saw

ZOO 2000

I went to Bed at neuf: vingt cinq.

That would be 9.25pm in the non-annoying world, then.

With nine days to go before the Christmas holidays, I think activities at school were starting to wind down a little, without quite having reached the ‘go on, play hangman for an hour while I read the latest Jeffrey Archer’ approach that our teachers tended to take in the final week of term.  But work was slackening off a little, and we were occasionally being drafted in to help out with a few extra-curricular activities.

Hence ‘I went to the stall for Miss Wilson’. Miss Wilson was, of course, our lovely form tutor (and French teacher)… fresh from teacher training, newly-arrived in Yarm from the buzzing suburbs of London, and – by crikey – we gave her a baptism of fire in that first term. But, by this stage, we were starting to build up a nice rapport with her, and the morning register was often being answered with a few tongue-in-cheek but well-meant replies…

‘Alistair…’
‘Oui!’ 
‘Christopher…’
‘Oui!’
‘Jonathan…’
‘Oui, moi aussi…’

Smiles all round. Chris Byers might remember more about this than me, but was ‘the stall’ another fund-raising drive for the starving of Ethiopia, chucking more of our collective weight behind Bob Geldof’s garguntuan efforts? I have vague memories of us all being asked to bring in oddments and nick-nacks from our houses, and a series of jumble stalls being set up in (possibly) the Sports Hall through the day, with each of us expected to chip in for 15 minutes at a time to help flog a few assorted bits and pieces to passing punters.


I could be getting this completely wrong, though. Or thinking of something that happened at another time. Heeeeelp!

Meanwhile, we did do little bits of work in the gaps between arsing around, and my Geography exercise book contains a charming little slip of the Bic Biro….

There is also a terrible health risk in Shanty towns. There are no sewage or drainage facilities, so the sewage water just runs out into the filthy streets. This is the water that the people of the Shanty town drink and wash with, so disease is ripe.

I suspect I was transcribing this from one of Mr ‘Fluffy Sheep Jumper’ Flynn’s sterling monologues, and misheard the word ‘rife’. It still kind of works, I suppose….


And yes, well done to Band Aid! The least surprising No 1 hit single of the decade, but I still remember getting a little shiver down my spine watching the video on Top of the Pops, knowing full well that I’d done my bit during the day by flogging three tins of Walter Wilson Mushy Peas from our Sports Hall stall. Possibly.

Here’s the full Top of the Pops line-up, with Peter Powell and Steve Wright doing the dubious honours…

• Band Aid – Do They Know Its Christmas [Promo Video]
• Black Lace – Do The Conga [Performance]
• Gary Glitter – Another Rock & Roll Christmas [Performance]
• Kool & The Gang – Fresh [Repeat Performance]
• Madonna – Like A Virgin [Performance]
• Paul Young – Everything Must Change [Performance]
• Tears For Fears – Shout [Promo Video]
• Toy Dolls – Nellie The Elephant [Performance]
• Wham – Last Christmas [Promo Video] 

Yegods, it’s enough to give you nightmares, isn’t it? By this stage, Wham’s Last Christmas had already been cheekily amended by the sensitive souls of 1CW to contain the lines…

Last Christmas, I gave you my fart
But the very next day, you said you were gay

…and it’s great to see Nellie The Elephant popping up, a staple of birthday party discos throughout the 1980s! I remember pogo-ing like a lunatic to this, sweat clinging to my Burtons Menswear shirt, during at least four early evening soirees at a selection of community halls throughout 1985 and 1986 – usually included by the Timmy Mallett-lookalike mobile disco DJ as part of a ‘silly section’ alongside Chubby Checker’s ‘Let’s Twist Again’ and Black Lace’s ‘Superman’. The latter complete with mass jumping-off-chairs during the explosive chorus, inevitably resulting in a tangled mess of limbs, snot and Burtons menswear in the centre of the dancefloor.

Anyone idea what ‘Commercial  Breaks’ was? I’m guessing some kind of clip-show of funny adverts, probably hosted by Terry Wogan…

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4 Comments»

  Dr. Giles Parcel wrote @

I suspect it might have been a daring spin-off of Holiday, with Cliff Michelmore spending an inexpensive weekend at, for example, the village with the steep cobbled street as seen in the Hovis commercial or the dune at Camber Sands that was used to advertise Fry’s Turkish Delight. Lorraine Chase was sent to report on the snack bars of Luton Airport in the third segment before Cliff rounded things off by miming something suggestive with a stick of crumbly chocolate in a field of sunflowers.

  Chris Byers wrote @

Sorry to say I can’t really remember the stall, but your probably right and it was to help raise money for Ethiopia (remember we never liked to talk about our charity work). My only memory is of a couple of dodgy looking characters selling, I think, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Dr Who merchandise. Any idea who this might have been?

I do remember that every Christmas we would bring in tins of food, boxes of chocolates, etc so that we could make Christmas hampers, which we then donated to elderly people in Yarm. I seem to remember a couple of the more respectable members of our class would then be chosen to go and deliver the hampers in person. Surprisingly we were never chosen, I can’t imagine why.

  Fiona Tims wrote @

Your alternative ‘Last Xmas’ lyrics really made me giggle. I’m so mature!

  bobfischer wrote @

Dr Parcel, you know full well if that existed and was released on DVD, I’d not only buy it, I’d be queuing up to get my copy signed by Lorraine Chase.

Chris – yes, you’re right! I’d forgotten about that, it was a weird morning when all 30 members of 1CW turned up for registration with a tin of pineapple chunks or a box of chocolate fingers on their desk. And no, we were never trusted, where we? Clearly Miss Wilson knew full well we’d be discovered looking guilty in a bus shelter with our faces covered in pineapple juice and chocolate.

And Fiona… don’t encourage them. They’re only after the attention. 🙂


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