Thursday 18 December 1986

…This morning we played Call My Bluff.
This afternoon we had our school Christmas party.
We played a newspaper game,
a passing-string-up-and-over-people’s-jumpers game,
a game where you passed a ball from people’s chin to chin
and not forgetting pass the parcel.
The food turned out to be served buffet style.
Then this evening everybody except me appeared on TV
because the whole class had gone over to Leon’s house
which is said to have marvellous Christmas decorations.
I stayed behind because [the teacher] wanted me to help
get a birthday surprise ready for [another teacher] who
was 24 today…

The chin game is one of those activities that has become confined purely to pre-teen or post-teen gatherings. For it to pass off successfully, it seems you either need a surfeit of innocence (in the former) or alcohol (in the latter). Adolescence, with its crippling self-awareness and preponderance of sediments and smells, is no place for chin-to-chin intimacy – at least, not between semi-strangers.

It was perfectly suited, therefore, for my primary school Christmas party, along with the equally intrusive string-up-the-jumper game and the eternally harmless pass the parcel. I’ve no idea, though, about what was involved in the “newspaper game”. As for Call My Bluff, I have a fear that I’d have approached this with a degree enthusiasm that would have unnerved many of my peers.

The TV appearance was on Midlands Today on BBC1. I’m not sure why I was picked to stay behind, but at least it meant I got to experience school after hours (always a joy).

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