Wednesday 19 February 1986

…In PE we did non-stop cricket.
Didn’t hit the ball once but I got two people out…

I’ve had to look this one up, as I had no idea what non-stop cricket was.

Turns out it is a demented incarnation of the titular original, requiring the batsman to run regardless of whether they’ve hit the ball or not, and for the bowler to bowl as soon as they are thrown the ball.

We would have played this on the council fields across the road, behind the police station.

Why were ten-year-olds being made to participate in such maniacal business? I never enjoyed school sports, whatever my age, but I probably tolerated this more than, say, a normal game of cricket, by virtue of it being such a legitimised shambles.

Monday 17 February 1986

…Started a How We Used To Live project today…

I loved this series. It was my favourite ever schools programme.

In retrospect, it was probably responsible for getting me hooked on history and thereby planting the seed of a lifelong obsession.

Even though I’d only just turned 10, I think there was something about the programme’s conceit that made a deep impression on me. The scope of the series, coupled with that haunting theme tune, touched a nerve. I’m still moved by that music today:

I even drew the image at 0.43 in this clip on the front cover of the aforementioned project:

How We Used To Live crops up a few times in diary entries during February. It would not be the last television programme with which I would develop a fascination so pronounced that I felt the need to commemorate it in writing.

Saturday 15 February 1986

…Bought two Doctor Who books today…

I would have got these from WHSmiths in the shopping precinct, who always had a good stock of the latest Target Dr Who novelisations.

Chances are they would have been adventures from the Peter Davison era, who back then was my favourite Doctor*. Chances are they would therefore also have contained, on or close to the opening page, a description of the Doctor having “a pleasant, open face” and “sporting the garb of an Edwardian cricketer, topped off with a sprig of celery in the lapel”, both of which seemed to be contractually obliged to appear in all Fifth Doctor novelisations.

A "pleasant, open face" yesterday; "sprig of celery" not pictured

At the time, I was hoping to own all the Peter Davison stories. As it turned out, I didn’t complete the set until the mid-90s, when I felt obliged, after many years of apathy, to do the deed and find the missing volumes from a second-hand shop in the Silver Arcade in Leicester.

Come to think of it, I still don’t own a copy of The Five Doctors novelisation, which I remember only ever borrowing from the local library, being impressed by the silver cover, then finding the actual story incredibly dull.

The two I bought on this day in 1986, whose titles I didn’t see fit to mention, didn’t take me long. My diary says I finished them within 24 hours.

*Then as now, I disliked Colin Baker’s Doctor intensely.

Tuesday 11 February 1986

Had Mrs Winafield [sic] today.
We did a newspaper. Mine was all up to date of course…

We had loads of supply teachers at primary school. I clearly thought nothing of it. The “make a newspaper” task was given to us more than once – probably whenever we had a supply teacher. It feels like the kind of “this’ll keep them quiet” busywork that finds a natural home in their armoury. I sound quite arrogant here – “…of course” – but I was only taking a pride in my work.

Sunday 9 February 1986

…First Sunday when I was 10. HOORAY.
Read some Doctor Who books.
Listened to King Street Junior tapes…

Told you those blank tapes would come in useful almost immediately.

I recorded quite a bit of stuff off Radio 4 in the mid-80s, including I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Just a Minute and King Street Junior.

The last of these I enjoyed because Dr Who was in it, as was James Grout, who sounded a bit like my own headteacher. I stopped listening to it when Peter Davison regenerated into Karl Howman.