Monday 18 January 1988

…More PE, or Physical Exhaustion.
We finally got to go on the gym apparatus, but I got put in a stupid group that could only go on a feeble springboard, a mat, a bench, and THEN ANOTHER MAT!
In science we had to decide what would make a harmful pet and a normal pet.
What this had to do with science was beyond me.
In Blue Peter they showed you how to make your own personal organiser…

This was one “make” that I thought I’d have a go at. The results were disastrous. It fell apart almost from day one, and had to be held together with Sellotape. I covered the front and back with a garish polkadot design: white spots on a purple background. I then went to the Filofax section WHSmiths and bought a load of maps of places I would never visit in my life.

The whole episode left me so annoyed, and also embarrassed, that I never dared show the wretched thing in public.

I knew then I’d never be a yuppie.

Thursday 14 January 1988

…We had goodbye party for Michael who is leaving.
Well, he had already left, but he came back for us to say goodbye to him.
I ended up doing all the washing up and helping to clear up.
Of course I got no thanks at all…

This was the same Michael who had run away the previous term, and who I thought had then simply come back and carried on as normal.

I remember now that the local education authority sent him off to what we were told was “a special school”. We never saw him again.

I wonder what this party entailed. Refreshments were clearly involved, for I’m not sure what else would have needed to be washed up. Notice yours truly in the kitchen. I knew my place.

Tuesday 12 January 1988

…This evening I watched Carry on Behind…

There seems to have been a Carry On film on TV every Tuesday evening in January 1988. I’d watched Abroad last Tuesday, Behind today, and next week was Henry. Three of the greats*.

I can’t believe, however, that they were screened uncut. There’s surely no way Behind, with its opening striptease by “Miss Amelia Fosdyke”, bare breasts and all, would have aired in full before the watershed.

The Carry Ons must have been butchered for their first appearances on terrestrial television. I remember watching a video of Abroad at some point in the 1990s, and suddenly becoming aware I was seeing entire scenes for the first time – the bit where Sid rips off Babs’s bra, for example.

Nowadays it’s a different matter, and you’ll get late-era classics like Girls and Dick, going out untouched – albeit in shockingly bad prints – right in the middle of the day.

There’ll always be a place in my top five films of all-time for a Carry On. About that I have long been decided. It’s just a question of which one…

*Yes, honestly. Give me 1970s smutty technicolour Carry On over 1960s black-and-white spoofery any day.

Monday 11 January 1988

…Back to school today.
We got off to a right start this morning by having some homework set: honestly.
It’s called A Winter’s Tale, which the teacher has pinched off William Shakespeare.
We have to make up our own tale, though.
It’s a bit of a lazy idea for some homework.
In PE we were supposed to have our first lesson on all the gym equipment, but
we spent the whole time learning how to get it out and set it up.
We didn’t actually DO anything!

Just the thought of that weird webbed substance on the underside of gym mats still gives me a Proustian shudder. It always seemed to me the least appropriate material to offer protection from sharp falls and high-velocity antics. I could never understand why we were encouraged to climb all the way up ropes attached to the gym walls with just ONE SOLITARY MAT at the bottom for safety.

There was an enormous vault over which we were expected to jump. It’s hard to imagine any other object that could rob as much dignity as possible from both adolescent boys AND girls.

Mini-trampolines were also in evidence, which meant the same went for unsupported body parts on all genders.

This was all getting too much.

Thursday 7 January 1988

…A day trip to London.
We must have been on about 20 of them by now, but I don’t really mind.
There was a huge panic because we thought we were going to miss the train, and
we almost did…
Arrived at London at 11.30am, and went first to a magic shop in Charing Cross
station where I bought two tricks, neither of which I have yet been able to do.
We had lunch in a John Lewis, and then while Dad went off to a meeting
we went to look at Piccadilly Circus and the Trocadero, and also, best of all, to a
BBC shop…

My dad must have needed to go to London on work business, and then decided to bring the family along for a day trip as well.

I haven’t a clue why we went to a magic shop. One of the tricks was something to do with making a ball disappear from under a cup. I never quite mastered it.

I know full well why we went to the BBC shop, however, and it was because I demanded it. I think this was the occasion I bought SIX O’CLOCK NEWS and NINE O’CLOCK NEWS car stickers, which I then pretentiously displayed in the back window of the family Volkswagen. “Ooh, does your dad work for the BBC?” people would ask at school from time to time. Stupidly, I never once pretended and said yes.