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July 10, 2008

Wiffle Lever to Full!

Wiffle Lever to Full
by Bob Fischer

"Peter Davision is currently at the Chiswick Roundabout..."

WifflePart exotic travelogue ("I'm in the middle of a sprawling Leicestershire industrial estate"), part confessional diary ("Princess Leia looks down disapprovingly from the wallpaper"), and part Danny Wallace-esque man-on-a-mission page-turner ("I need to be awake at 5am to make it to Portmerion on time!"), Wiffle Lever to Full is also the only book in existence that will tell you what it's really like to stand in an autograph queue for an inebriated Gareth Thomas.

When Bob Fischer decides to attend a local Doctor Who convention in Stockton-on-Tees he doesn't realise that he'll be bitten by a bug that will catapult him (and his credit card, and then, rather sweetly, his girlfriend) on an epic, cross-country voyage of discovery. The result is a hilarious, frank, and often very touching celebration of the weird, wonderful and bonkers brilliant world of fandom.

Swoon as Bob accosts Caroline Munro with a bottle of Lamb's Navy Rum! Wince as he's ambushed by Blake's 7 fans in the same quarry where Destiny of the Daleks was filmed! Gasp in horror when he finds himself trapped in a Star Trek maze made out of, er, maize. And sigh with relief when he doesn't upset Terry Prachett in a lift.

Wiffle... is the only book that tells you what it's really like to stand in an autograph queue for an inebriated Gareth Thomas.

While Bob's convention adventures are always entertaining and insightful (did you know that Servalan is currently looking after injured monkeys in South Africa?), the highlights for me were the sections where he reminisces about growing up as a sci-fi fan in the 70s and 80s. We've all been there: writing to Jim'll Fix It, yearning for that Palitoy Millennium Falcon, getting the horn for Britt Ekland. But it's not all dreamy-eyed nostalgia as Bob bravely bares his soul by recounting some of the really stupid things that he's done in the name of fandom as well. These include watching the final episode of The Prisoner stoned (is there any other way?), employing Star Wars action figures in an attempt to make his nipples go hard with desire, and a blazing row with his girlfriend about the merits of the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy Movie. MJ Simpson will love it.

The Tachyon TV team are mentioned in both the Doctor Who and Blake's 7 sections of the book (even we have to draw the line somewhere), but whereas John appears as an erudite version of Norman Collier ("...ask Mark... about Mike Read... TARDIS Wendy House..."), I come across as a demonic sex pest (not for the first time). Bob also reveals that he knew John Paul was going to be in Rise of the Cybermen six months before I did! Or as he so eloquently puts it, "The bastard!"

If you've never been to a convention before then you may well be tempted to take the plunge after losing yourself in the world of Wiffle. Where else can you dance with middle-aged lesbians dressed as assassins, rub shoulders with fat David Tennants, or join a Robin of Sherwood quiz team with a man who's only watched the first 10 minutes of episode one?

And if you are a seasoned conventioneer already, don't be surprised if you find yourself scouring the internet for last-minute deals on hotel rooms set in provincial industrial estates. Oh look, there's a Doctor Who convention on the outskirts of Birmingham this weekend. I'll get me coat...

Wiffle Lever to Full by Bob Fischer
: 978-0340962015
RRP: £12.99
Release date: 24th July 2008 (selected branches of Waterstones have copies on sale now).


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