Tuesday 18 August 1987

…”To be. Or not to be. That is the question. Whether it is nobler to be in the mind
What a silly joke.
BBC1 and BBC2 went off air for two hours today when transmitters were
struck by lightning…”

As ever, I’m filling my diary with reflections on all the things that really matter.

Monday 17 August 1987

…Today it rained sand.
The wind had blown it right up from the Sahara and dropped it on us.
Cars were covered in it…

I seem to recall this occurring more than once in my childhood, but every time it happened it was as if snow had fallen on Christmas Day. People would step gingerly through their half-opened front doors, placing one foot on the ground as if unsure of its solidity, then teeter along the pavement, one hand pointing, the other clapped to the side of their face.

If it still happens now, it is not reported, let alone acknowledged. Like many extraordinary things from those times, it has become ordinary. The fanciful is now commonplace; the exceptional, mundane. All the hues of my childhood, even those the colour of sand, seem to have been heightened with the passing of time. Were the 1980s really that bright?

Friday 14 August 1987

…Today I ate 1,470 calories, which is much less than I should be having.
According to a book I should be having 2,700!
On my early morning bike ride the chain came off when I crashed into the fence
of number 9, but nobody noticed as nobody was awake.
Number 1 next door are having a barbecue tomorrow, which means
LOTS OF NOISE, and that no sleep is guaranteed…

My parents still live in the same house they did when I was growing up and the people next door in number 1 are the same people that lived there in 1987. And apparently they still have barbecues that go on late into the night and make a lot of noise.

I’ve never liked barbecues. Cooking, like sleeping and heavy petting, should never happen outdoors.

The smell of sizzling steaks coupled with alcohol-fuelled braying is bad enough inside four walls. But at least then you can step outside. Barbecues afford no escape.

They embrace a quartet of life’s most disagreeable sensations: hot sunlight, enforced socialising, industrial-scale drinking, and meat.

Back in 1987 I’d still to discover I didn’t like any of these, yet I already knew there was something unsettling about a barbecue. So I had to make do with shutting my bedroom window and holding a pillow over my ears – in the process discovering two more of life’s most disagreeable sensations.

Thursday 13 August 1987

…I had to push Granny’s trolley round Sainsbury’s because
she had a pain in her shoulder…

Our family always went shopping on Thursday. My mum, who’d yet to return to full-time employment, would head off to Sainsbury’s around 10am, stopping along the way to pick up her own mother, who lived on the other side of town.

During term time the two of them would do the shopping by themselves, and it would take most of the morning. But during the school holidays my sister and I would have to come along as well. The thinking was this would speed up the whole process. The reality was it made things take even longer, because we would be distracted, would play with the trolleys, wouldn’t know where things were in the aisles, and would linger in front of Sainsbury’s primitive in-store bakery counter unable to decide whether to choose a doughnut or an iced bun as a treat.

Why don’t they have the metal turnstiles in front of supermarkets anymore?

Good food costed less