I just realised today that quite a few of my eighties heroes passed away this year. Sid Waddell and Jocky Wilson were two of them. Sid, the loquacious BBC commentator corresponded with me when I was a schoolboy, sending me a programme signed by all the top players at the World Championships. I was completely mesmerised by the outrageous antics of the oversized arrowsmiths at Jollees Cabaret Club in Stoke-on-Trent. Not so much their expert marksmanship as the madness that went with it. When I got to Manchester I couldn’t wait to get down there – it was only about 45 minutes away. It was a freezing cold early January afternoon and I stood outside The Snooty Fox on Princess Road for two hours before getting a ride all the way. Jollees was a cavernous nightclub more suited to an evening of offensive banter with Bernard Manning or a night of crooning with Matt Munro. But the top players in those days all looked like Les Dawson, so they didn’t seem out of place. I’d played darts since I was about fourteen and used to practise my A-level revision whilst throwing. In spite of all that I was never much good but found something very therapeutic in the dull thud of tungsten into a bristle board and the slight hint of resistance when you went to pull your arrows out of it. We had one in St Clements Road and goodness knows what might have happened if Barry White had found out. Life-drawing classes with Leighton Rees, anyone? I did try bringing it into college but Pam wouldn’t swallow my line that it was a good way of concentrating the mind and stimulating creativity.