Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Extracts from Bob’s 1984 Diary… Volume 354

Wednesday 19th December 1984

I got up at 8.00, then Gaz came and we went to school. It was free Art, History and Maths, and at 12.00 I had dinner. At 1.00 it was free French and free English, and after Science I came home.

I had tea, then at 5.00 I saw le boite of delights. At 5.30 I saw le bien life, and at 6.00 I wrapped a present.

At 7.00 I went outside, at 8.00 I saw DALLAS and at neuf trente je went to  bed.

More Gallic flair! Quelle surprise.

I’m not sure why I’m boldly claiming in this diary entry that my Maths lesson was another free period, when – in reality – Mrs Clark Without The E was still resolutely sticking to her (frankly ludicrous) principles that if we were in school, in a classroom, during lesson time, then it wasn’t unreasonable to actually do a bit of work. And, as my old Gran used to say, the proof of the… erm… Christmas pudding is in the… erm, cutting out and pasting together…


It’s taken me a while to work out what this actually is, but I’m guessing we drew a circle with our compasses (Ian ‘Faz’ Farrage’s still coated with Jonathan ‘Nobby’ Haworth’s dried blood), divided it into segments with our Shatterproof rulers, then cut these out and pasted them side-by-side in our exercise books to determine (ta-daaaa!) ‘The Area of a Circle’. Merry f***ing Christmas, kids.

Looking at those segments now, they just fill me with an insatiable desire to eat a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and I can’t imagine my reaction was any different in 1984. It’s a good job we didn’t do equilateral triangles as well, I’d have been desperate for a Toblerone by 11.30am.

Thankfully for all of our respective sanities, the rest of the day descended into the now-customary Free Period madness, and – when not concocting new reams of obscenities, filth and offensiveness with Messrs Simpson, Farrage, Burton et al – I remember spending a lot of time drawing cartoons in my ‘Rough Book’. As far as I recall, my artistic inspiration around this time came from two main sources…

1. Mr Purvis. Probably the easiest teacher in the school to draw, Mr Purvis remains one of the most likeable and genuinely eccentric people I’ve ever met. The fact that I was drawing pictures of him in my first year at Conyers, BEFORE HE’D EVER TAUGHT ME, is testament to his legend. He was hilariously funny, a dead ringer for the late Robin Cook MP, and – when he finally taught me French during my second and third year at Conyers – became most famous for his impromptu ‘tests’, which would never varied too much from the following barmy format…

‘For questions 1-9, I’d like you to tell me, in French, something exciting and spiritually uplifting that you did during your half-term holiday. For question 10, I’d like you to turn over your answer sheet and draw me a one-eyed giraffe playing chess with an astronaut on the deck of an Edwardian sailing ship during a total eclipse of the sun’.


I’m not exaggerating this for comic effect, we’d have a different one of these to scribble at the end of every French test. Naturally I loved it, and I wish I’d kept them all. He’s also responsible for one of my favourite laugh-out loud teacher moments, when he caught me (at the slightly embarrassing age of 17) drawing a carefully-crafted picture of Middlesbrough striker Bernie Slaven on my French A-Level folder during a lesson of ‘silent revision’.


‘Oooh, that’s pretty,’ he cooed. ‘Who is it, Adolf Hitler?’

It’s in the fringe, I suppose.

(If any passing former Conyerites can remember any more of Mr Purvis’ surreal artistic challenges, please post them up – we should build up a database of these!)

2. Moo Cardy. I’ll have to ask my Dad about this, but – as far as I can remember – Moo Cardy was a kind of bogeyman figure who was purpoted to have stalked the streets of Sunderland during the 1940s Wearside childhood of his friend Ray Pearson. Ray was another charming eccentric, and grew up to be a respected singer-songwriter who, in the 1960s, appeared on the Des O’Connor show and lent his jacket to Kenny Lynch.


I was entranced by this, and repeatedly drew Moo Cardy as a sinister, grinning seven-foot figure in a white cowl who would creep around the darkened streets and hide in childrens’ wardrobes. I’m lodging the worldwide rights as we speak, there’s a 26-part CBBC series in this.

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3 Comments»

  Chris Orton wrote @

I wish that all football matches could be reported with Bernie Slaven-style illustrations. It’d be great.

Although I do wonder how Brad Jones’s performance against Newcastle today would be represented…

  Chris Byers wrote @

Mr Pervis would always award us extra marks if we added a picture of Quasimodo to our work. In fact I can remember getting my homework handed back to me with the comment ‘where’s Quasi?’ as I hadn’t add a picture.

  bobfischer wrote @

Here’s Brad Jones lining up his defensive wall for another Newcastle free kick…

And yes, Quasimodo! How could I forget? Good old Mr Purvis. I sometimes see him in Tesco at Eaglescliffe but never know whether to say hello in case he has no idea who I am.

Although a few weeks ago I (almost literally) bumped into Mr Hobson and his labrador on one of my dog-walking expeditions in a bit of remote woodland! I hadn’t expected to see another human being there, let alone him. He realised who I was once I introduced myself, and we had a nice chat about the old times. He’s fully retired now, but still looks exactly the same as he did 25 years ago. Amazing hair!


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