Friday 10 April 1987

…We started off this morning with a rehearsal of our grand performance due to
open at the National Theatre on 12 July 1999.
Actually it was our class assembly, but it’s well on the way towards having its
royal premiere.
We performed it, or maybe showed it if you like, to the rest of the school at 10.30am.
It was based on the theme of Don’t Panic, and there were three sketches:
1) A spelling test
2) At the dentist’s surgery
3) The life of a whoopee cushion and a table.
Edward and I had made a pretend Panic Machine to test how much everybody
panicked when they were played some loud noises, like a dog barking.
Of course everyone panicked even though it was on tape, and even though
we then produced a cuddly dog on a lead.
I think it went all right, and afterwards we all got little Easter eggs for
our performance.
This afternoon, as it was the last day of term, we watched a film.
Except it was stupid.
It was called Explorers and was about three American kids going up into space.

A bit harsh on Explorers, I think. I’m sure it didn’t merit quite such a low grade.

I make no mention of the Panorama spoof. Perhaps it was dropped. Or maybe I’ve wrongly assigned it to this term’s assembly. It certainly happened in some form, because I remember creating a prop sign with the Panorama logo on, made out of a cereal packet, behind which I hid the cassette player.

Ah well. At least the audience seemed to be satisfied. Then again, with a whoopee cushion, novelty sound effects and a cuddly toy dog by way of entertainment, who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday 8 April 1987

…Last PE lesson this term today – last basketball lesson, last gymnastics too.
Because of this, everybody was messing around, especially the 4th years.
[Our teacher] got cross.
He said: “It was a sad note to end the term on,” but it’s not really the end of term
so he got that wrong.
He also said: “With a sour taste in my mouth…”
Afterwards he went off in a sulk and ran round Southfields Park by himself
goodness knows how many times…

I’d have treated such an admonition with more gravity were it not related to sport. But going off in a sulk is always a bad move on the part of a teacher. It subtracts, not adds, credibility. Especially when it culminates in behaviour that, to our 11-year-old eyes, seemed slightly loopy.

Tuesday 7 April 1987

…My Central Electricity Generating Board stuff came today.
Remember the ferry disaster?
Well today the ferry was lifted from its side and turned upright.
It took 18 and a half hours!
Luckily the sea was calm and there was no wind so everything went all right.
People were messing about when they should have been doing their
projects, so they didn’t get to go swimming.
But swimming was actually great today because we had the inflatables out.
Great fun…

I’m still stumped by the CEGB stuff. I haven’t found any other mention of it in the diary. I can’t remember anything about it. Was I indulging in some kind of obsession with the National Grid so shameful I sought to hide it even from myself? Or was I just interested in a few maps and diagrams in some colourful leaflets?

Anyway, thank goodness I didn’t imply any sort of link between my fun with the inflatables and the raising of the Herald of Free Enterprise.

Or did I?

Monday 6 April 1987

…We got our book orders today.
I had ordered Johnny Ball’s Second Thinks book.

It’s still a great read.

Ball's up

The best chapter is the one on codes and ciphers. It includes this classic riddle-me-ree:

“Have a go at solving this little problem:


Can you take six letters away and leave an English word you might associate with me?”

The first correct answer wins the right to claim this gag of Johnny’s as their own:

“The other day I woke up with a sick eye, so I thought I would have to go and see a sick-eye-atrist, but instead I went along to see my doctor. I realised I’d have to see him with the other eye until the sick one got better…”

Sunday 5 April 1987

…Here is more news of the Grand National.
One person got a broken nose, one got a broken arm, one horse had
to be killed and someone else got knocked unconscious.
What a mess.
Last night I had a terrible nose bleed.
Well all nose bleeds are terrible, but this one lasted half an hour.
In the circumstances that’s quite good, because they usually last
three-quarters of an hour…

That sounds preposterous. Three-quarters of an hour? Shouldn’t I have passed out by that point?