Sunday 31 August 1986

…Decided to sort all my books into alphabetical order
which took ages and ages and ages
but it all turned out all right in the end.
Watched 45 minutes of the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only…

This would’ve been up to the point just after Roger and Carole’s “nice ride in the country” in that comically-crappy 2CV: a sequence I found thrilling in 1986, but nowadays I watch wholly out of duty rather than love (a sentiment that can be extended to the entire full-length joyless borefest).

45 minutes was all I was allowed 25 years ago because it was the night before the start of the new school term.

Nonetheless I was careful to record this partial slice of Bond in an additional section of my new diary, in doing so launching a bold attempt to document an entire year’s worth of 007 action:

Mark Curry and George Lazenby, together at last

Click the image to see a full-size version, if you can bare to.

What I can’t understand is why this ambitious project morphed, come mid-January, into an inventory of Children’s BBC Wednesday afternoon programming. Perhaps my diary will explain more nearer the time.

Still, Mark Curry and George Lazenby: together at last.

Wednesday 27 August 1986

…I nearly died today.
Me and [my sister] bought some rope with our own money
and we tied it to a tree to climb up it.
There is a ledge halfway up and I
climbed up halfway and while I was
standing on the ledge I slipped and fell,
catching my back on the ledge.
I was winded for about 30 seconds.
But I soon recovered.
I have no bones broken (I hope)…

My mum was having tea with a neighbour at the time, and I well remember the embarrassment of stumbling into the kitchen, not entirely sure why I couldn’t breathe but knowing that something was badly wrong, yet having to still maintain a desperate pretence of dignity and politeness in front of our guest.

“I… can’t… can’t… breathe… oh, hello… nice to… see you… again… hope you’re… sorry, I… can’t… (collapses on floor).”

Tuesday 26 August 1986

…This morning I had to practice my piano pieces because
I have my first lesson [after the summer] in a fortnight’s time.
Today was a typical British day.
Rain, rain, rain, rain and even more
rain, rain, rain.
Our pond got flooded but now it’s in danger
from wind, wind, wind and even more wind.
And so on.
Discovered that next week Star Trek and The Muppet Show
are back on TV…

That’s me and my priorities, right there. Piano, rain, telly.

And yes, I really did experience something of a frisson every time I saw an edition of Radio Times with the words NEW SEASON emblazoned diagonally across one corner.

Monday 25 August 1986 (Bank Holiday)

…Got wet at the City of Leicester Show in Abbey Park.
It poured with rain, but nevertheless I got loads of Radio Leicester stuff.
I also saw some presenters, including Tony Wadsworth.
[Later that day] we dried ourselves off, had tea and
watched loads and loads of television including Disney Time
and the hilarious Dad’s Army film…

I had a new diary:

This is my life, and this is how it reads: volume 2
Said “facts” were of a thunderously academic if somewhat quirky bent.

Want to know the only monarch to be buried in a coffin twice as wide as it was long? Anxious to discover just which metal has the highest melting point? Perhaps you’ve been fretting over the composition of Ohm’s Law?

All the answers lay within*, along with information about unusual record breakers, the vital statistics of Rob Andrew and Annabel Croft, and career advice on how to become a hairdresser (“There are courses, from part-time to three-years full-time, at Polytechnics and Technical Colleges”).

There were also lots of charts and forms to fill in, which was obviously of great appeal to my annotative tendencies.

One of them, an 86/87 year planner, I tried to turn into a timetable showing every transmission time of a James Bond film on ITV, but lost interest halfway through and instead started noting each appearance in the BBC1 schedules of Jossy’s Giants. Look out for a reproduction of this grisly exhibit in a future entry.

Meanwhile I celebrated my new diary with a trip to that enduring bank holiday staple, the county fair. The “stars” of Radio Leicester were in attendance; I remember helping myself variously to car stickers, spiral hats, picture postcards and “limited edition” biros. I genuinely thought this was ace.

I’m not so sure, though, about the Dad’s Army film. I think I’m being sincere when I said it was “hilarious”, but my diary entries had begun to get a bit knowing, and maybe, just maybe, I was hazarding an attempt a bit of prematurely-adolescent sarcasm.

Better that, surely, than prematurely-adolescent anything else.

*Any ideas, reader?

Sunday 24 August 1986

…This is the last entry in this diary because it’s the start of the academic year tomorrow.
Did you know I have now been keeping a diary for nearly a year…

It was time to put aside the slim, pink and red-coloured journal that had seen me through the first eight months of 1986 and pick up a new volume, one that ran in step with the school year and hence demanded my attention from the August Bank Holiday onwards.

I regretted having to abandon this particular diary with four months still to go. It didn’t seem right. It felt like unfinished business. It also helped to reinforce the impression in my mind of the impending return to school resembling the start of something new, rather than merely a continuation of what went before.

If I’d have waited until Christmas and bought a new diary at the same time as the rest of the human race, none of this would have mattered. But I didn’t, and the novelty of putting pen to fresh paper triumphed over the convention of seeing things through to a proper conclusion.

Besides, the new diary had more space to write stuff, and I was feeling the need to say a bit more about my life. Whether there was actually much more that needed to be said remains to be seen…

Friday 22 August 1986

…Watched TV this morning.
Helped Mum make a cherry cake and a chocolate mousse.
Again we went swimming this afternoon.
Watched Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It.
It’s a programme that takes the mickey out of other TV programmes…

The fact I go into such detail to explain what the show is all about suggests to me that it wasn’t Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It that I rushed home for the previous Friday. I’m pretty sure I would have said so at the time, and included a similarly earnest description.

This was a rare occasion when I deliberately tuned in to Children’s ITV. I tended to stick with BBC1, even when its children’s programmes, such as the 132nd episode of the 57th rerun of Silas, were rubbish. It was a habit – the same habit that meant I went through my childhood never ever watching one of ITV’s Saturday morning children’s efforts from start to finish.

Did I miss anything?

Wednesday 20 August 1986

…Went into town this morning with Mum.
Saw thousands of people I knew.
Well, not exactly a thousand, about two.
Later I made a wire collar and lead for a dog
so me and [my sister] now have invisible dogs…

Still no sign of the giddy consumerism of the 80s, then. There was a well-stocked and hugely popular toy shop in the town centre that I’m sure would have satisfied all my “invisible dog on a lead” needs. Instead, I decided to make my own.

Or rather, I was forced to make my own.

It can’t have been that difficult, though I’m surprised I had the patience or the wherewithal. Perhaps it was the comedy value inherent in the finished article. In fact, so proud was I with what I created that I’m fairly sure we took our “dogs” for a “walk” around the block later that evening.

And oh, what a feeling of inclusivity ensued, as we passed our neighbours with their bikes, skateboards, rollerboots and remote-controlled toy cars, not to mention real dogs…