Wiffle Lever To Full!

Daleks, Death Stars and Dreamy Sci-Fi Nostalgia…

Here Comes Wilf Lunn…

…and I say, it’s alright. For anyone who grew up in front of the TV in the 1970s and 80s (hands up everyone… one, two, three, four… Simon, is your hand up or not? Oh, I see. No you can’t, you’ll have to wait. You should have gone before the start of assembly) will remember Wilf. Yes, the genial Yorkshire inventor with the extraodinary ginger moustache who graced the likes of Vision On, Jigsaw and Eureka with an array of bizarre and frequently dangerous-looking contraptions. After all, how is it possible not to love the creator of the ‘Apocalypse Cow’ which, as Wilf himself says, ‘replaced the earlier, less effective, Cow Clap Frisbees’?

About a year ago, my friend Wez (star of Chapters 2, 5 and 10 of ‘Wiffle Lever To Full!’) took, for reasons that have long since been wiped from my brain, a train journey from Huddersfield to Bradford and idled away the journey reading a discarded copy of the Huddersfield Examiner. He was so enamoured with Wilf Lunn’s colum in said periodical that he brought it back home for me to read. This is it, here…


Inspired, I decided – uncharacteristically – to spend the rest of the afternoon in the spare room office, slumped in front of the computer spending money I didn’t have. I know! Who’d have thought it? I immediately ordered a copy of Wilf’s childhood memoir ‘My Best Cellar’ from his website, and then set about finding that adaptation of the old Abbott and Costello sketch mentioned in the Huddersfield Examiner. And sure enough, it’s here…

(I assume this is from Jigsaw, as that’s certainly Adrian Hedley under one of the surgeons’ masks. At least while he was messing about with Abbot and Costello he wasn’t sending the nation’s children into paroxyms of fear from beneath his… brrr… Noseybonk head)

A few days later, Wilf’s book arrived in the post, and I found myself lost in this splendidly surreal evocation of a bygone age, couched throughout in Wilf’s extraordinary gift for language  and an eye for the gruesomely odd that all-but-confirmed my longstanding suspicions that he and Vivan Stanshall were created together in some classified War Office genetic experiment deep beneath the Houses of Parliament before being forcibly exiled to opposite ends of the country, never to meet again. Except they did, but that’s a story for another blog entry… 

Anyway, as I read on, my thoughts began to coalesce into a dark and fevered plan. What we needed, obviously, was a night with Wilf Lunn in a small room on Teesside, so that Wez and I (and anyone else prepared to cough up a few quid) could have the pleasure of his company for a couple of hours. Luckily, I have the ear of a local arts promoter. Yes, I keep it in a jam-jar at the side of the bed. Ho ho! Knackers, and – indeed – arse. No, Luke Harding, proprieter of the splendid Waiting Room vegetarian restaurant and bohemian hangout, was utterly taken with the idea… and, predictably enough, left me to organise all the fiddly bits.

And so it came to pass that, on Sunday 30th January 2011, Wilf Lunn came to The Waiting Room and made a little bit of our collective childhoods bubble to the surface on a chilly Teesside evening. I was so excited I gave a rare outing to the stripy mod blazer I’d bought on Carnaby Street with the final instalment of my ‘Wiffle Lever’ advance in October 2008. And felt surprisingly honoured when Wilf chose to shower it in shaving foam as the climax to his Apocalypse Cow demonstration. Amazingly, I managed to capture some sensational action footage of this, but you’ll have to be quick on the draw…

Wilf was superb company, and a fascinating speaker, and I’ll treasure his recollections of  Rolf Harris’ trouser destruction,  James Mason’s bell collection (pingers or dingers, though? Ah, you had to be there) and the long-term career benefits of putting bicycles into bottles. And we rounded off with a small explosion… the least we’d expect from a man who once burnt off the hair (and moustache) on one side of his head minutes before a live TV appearance, and was hurriedly patched up with spare bits of barnet  from round the back, frantically glued into place by a cussing producer.

This – brace yourself – is the Hen Grenade…

Thanks to Wilf for coming up, and to everyone who popped along on the night! And that foam-covered stripy blazer in full…


  faustus70 aka neil wrote @

as a mad man from Huddersfield making a living on steam punk stuff now living in spain i am so happy to see one of my child memories brought back to haunt me like a bad pint
thanks dude 🙂

  bobfischer wrote @

Ha, pleasure! Wilf is a gent, and brlliant company. How do you make a living off steam punk stuff?

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