Monday 23 June 1986

…Back to school.
Did SMP and comprehension.
Did some more World Cup reports.
Did a choir and recorder practice for the school’s musical evening next Monday.
Wimbledon began again with………
…………rain.

And here, right on cue, is the very comprehension exercise (Test 14, to be precise) I did at school 25 years ago today:

No, the horn will not be blown three times
From the answers I have given, the exercise seemed to have been about some sort of Celtic legend or Scottish fable involving the sounding of a horn two times (not three – oops!), men raising themselves on their elbows, horses champing their bits and the arising of “a great crisis”.

You’ll see I was the unlucky beneficiary of one of those most wretched of all classroom cruelties: when a teacher initially ticks one of your answers, then changes their mind and over-writes it with an extra-heavy cross.

Adjacent to this in my English workbook is the following. It seems to be an attempt at an original fairy tale, replete with the sort of abrupt resolution that would make Russell T Davies proud:

"Good"
It was a, ahem, privilege to share that with you.

Saturday 21 June 1986

…Went to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.
Adventure playgrounds, fountains, pretty gardens and nice shops added to the fun.
France beat Brazil 5-4 in the World Cup. Amazing…

I didn’t end it all, then.

I know I was distraught at how badly yesterday had gone. Yet I didn’t mention it in today’s diary entry. Not a thing.

Why?

Just in case it isn’t clear, I cut things out of the entries I put on this blog. The stuff that appears here are mere snippets; filleted highlights, if that’s not too bold a claim, of the original text.

In most instances this is to spare you and me the embarrassment and boredom of reading personal things about myself and my family.

This expurgation will also extend, should this blog still be running in a couple of years or so, to the ghastly whining and pompous confessions of adolescence.

But I also leave out stuff that I feel just sounds, frankly, daft.

By way of an example, I’ve made an exception in today’s blog. The sentence about Chatsworth House sounds like something no sane person would ever say out loud.

I certainly can’t imagine the 10-year-old me turning to my parents and declaring: “Thanks for taking us to Chatsworth House. Those nice shops added to the fun!”

It took me some time to learn to write my diaries the way I spoke – indeed, to move beyond mere reportage and begin to include statements of feeling.

If I’m honest, too many of these early entries take refuge in cliches and turns-of-phrase. I’m not particularly proud of this. It’s as if I’m penning a journal of public record or a dry school assignment rather than a personal diary.

Hence the fact that even when writing up things that must have been quite traumatic (such as yesterday) I opt for descriptions rather than impressions. And when I do venture an opinion (today’s “amazing” World Cup game), it just comes over as rather trite.

Perhaps I’m being too hard on the 10-year-old me. But then perhaps he deserves it. After all, returning to yesterday’s debacle, who’d have thought puppets and a piano recital would have gone down well in front of an audience of peers?

So I’m guessing today’s trip to Chatsworth was my parents’ idea of a pick-me-up. That’s assuming I even told them quite how badly the assembly had gone.

I think I probably bottled it all up. Isn’t that what everyone does at that age?

Yet I don’t think I had really recovered. And reliving all this now, 25 years on, I’m still not sure I have.

NOTE: To return, as requested, to the specifics of yesterday, my piano piece was The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, the sketch involved me operating a Kermit the Frog puppet my mum had made for me, and Andrew was another pupil who I vaguely knew but who also played the piano. Poorly, as it turned out.

Thursday 19 June 1986

…Did SMP and silent reading which wasn’t really silent because of everybody coffin [sic].
Designed a poster showing Road Safety.
Practiced the Assembly…

The moment had almost arrived. And not before time.

Our class had been made to rehearse our assembly every single day this week, following weeks, months even, of unfailingly relentless run-throughs.

The amount of hours spent preparing the thing smacked more of a county-wide festival of performing arts than 15 minutes on a Friday morning in front of a hundred or so pupils.

But it was a matter of pride and of reputation (what we had of them at that age) for the assembly to go right and to go well. And for me the stakes were higher, having suggested the idea of a puppet show in the first place, and as one of the main participants.

I would have gone to bed nervous but confident that, having rehearsed the thing so many many times, nothing could go wrong now.

Tuesday 17 June 1986

…Watched (or the whole school did) the Rompers Roadshow, which was a play about Road Safety.
This afternoon we practiced our Assembly.
Bought a World Cup sticker album but didn’t buy any stickers…

I’m guessing there’s not much call for educational repertory theatre nowadays.

During my time at primary school we were visited not just by the “Rompers Roadshow” but also by a group touring a play about the value of respecting the police force; an ensemble teaching the importance of never running off with strangers; numerous religious groups from the local area hawking their respective spiritual wares; and, on one occasion, by a talking Belisha beacon.

Today most teachers probably just slap on a DVD.

There’s yet more proof within today’s entry, were it needed, of my shameless football fickleness. I only bought the album to be like everyone else at school, and I’m pretty sure I never got anywhere close to completing it.

I clearly didn’t place much value upon it; the picture below is not of my own copy, which has not survived the years and quite possibly didn’t survive the rest of the summer. I took much greater care of my Gremlins sticker album.

My name's Ian Jones, and I was a Fickle Football Fan