Saturday 31 January 1987

…This afternoon at 3pm I went to Edward’s to watch Goldfinger.
And I watched ALL of it.
I have now watched three proper James Bond films.
Afterwards we watched The A-Team.
They took me home at 7pm.
I missed Jim’ll Fix It and Hi-De-Hi by 10 minutes…

This was the very first time I’d seen The A-Team. I wasn’t allowed to watch it at home, my mum and dad tutting it was “too violent”. But loads of people talked about it at school, and I always thought I was missing out.

I wasn’t. What I saw today I remember as being a load of noisy, badly-acted, largely-meaningless rubbish. Hence my frustration at missing my usual Saturday night double bill on BBC1.

Much more rewarding, naturally, was Goldfinger. None of the three Bond films I had now seen all the way through had been watched at home. The first, A View to a Kill, was in the cinema in 1985 on the recommendation of Jimmy Greaves. The second, Diamonds are Forever, was at my grandparents’ in 1986. And the third was at a friend’s house.

It would only be a few months, however, before I got to enjoy a fourth.

Like listening to the Beatles without ear muffs

Thursday 29 January 1987

…Last night I had a nose bleed.
Nose bleeds can be so annoying, especially if you have them at night
which is when I had mine.
It lasted about 40 minutes from 5.20am to 6am.
I was nearly awake [when it started] anyway.
This morning and this afternoon we had to do a workshop at the drama
centre, which is in the Fearon Hall [across town].
The theme was about two Americans trying to take over an
imaginary valley and we had to try and stop them.
I was one of the people who owned a windmill in the valley…

As usual, I’m not particularly forthcoming in my diary about just what all this role-playing was precisely in aid of. I have no memory of it whatsoever, and that’s perhaps just as well.

Although none of us were at a particularly self-conscious age, I’d imagine there was already a stirring of a precocious kind among certain members of my class* along with parallel feelings of shyness among others.

It was probably an occasion that was mostly inoffensive if a little bemusing. However I believe there’s another of these events coming up in a year or so, if I get that far, by which time I was at secondary school and hormones were very much a-bubbling. Euucch.

I’ve just realised that the theme of today’s role-play sounds like Once Upon a Time in the West. If you think that’s a bit highbrow for a bunch of 10 and 11-year-olds, be thankful we were spared something along the lines of the event that my sister, who’s two years younger than me, had to attend later in 1987 which was based on the Hungerford massacre.

*Apologies if you’re skim reading this and the only words that caught your eye in this sentence were “stirring” and “members”.

Tuesday 27 January 1987

…Didn’t go to school today because I was feeling ill.
I felt really guilty because I haven’t had a day away ill from school for about
three years.
Had to go and sit in Mum’s office this morning but this afternoon I just
lazed around listening to tapes and reading.
Watched some of Dr Kildare but it was horrible.
It was about someone who was trying to kill themselves.
…Watched Children’s BBC, some of the Holiday programe and then over to ITV for
It looked very good.
The Aston Martin made its debut in this film…

As you can see, I wasn’t extended any indulgences because of my condition, being sent upstairs to bed just before Bond make his nighttime visit to Goldfinger’s factory. Evidently it was fine for me to watch someone attempting to commit suicide, but ejector seats and laser beams and other fantastical fun were a STEP TOO FAR.

Monday 26 January 1987

…I have suffered torture today at school and at home because
flu has taken over me.
At school I was coughing, losing my voice, freezing and sneezing everywhere.
In the playground I froze and felt horrible.
For lunch I had to eat potatoes, carrots and mince which made my illness no better.
When I came out of school this afternoon I felt like dying.
I took some medicine but it did me no good.
The best before date was 7 January 1986.
Mum came and drove me home.
She gave me a hot water battle and a blanket and put the fire on.
I began to feel a bit better…


Saturday 24 January 1987

…I woke up at 7am and read Adrian Mole until about 8.20am.
Then I got dressed and went downstairs and watched the usual TV…
…After lunch me and Dad went to Dad’s office in the university.
Since our typewriter broke I have to do all my typing there.
Have I ever told you what Dad’s office is like?
Printers, computers, typewriters, modern telephones, swivel chairs:
generally snazzy.
I’ve been there many times before.
This time when we tried to use the photocopier something went wrong
and one of my sheets got crumpled but all the rest were all right…

I taught myself to type. This was something that amazed one of my teachers when I got to secondary school. But then he was an idiot, who pronounced the word “gig” as “gigue” and used to do hip-hop gestures in class in an attempt to make himself liked.

We’d had an old electric typewriter in our house for years. I must have started using it when I was seven or eight, initially out of curiosity. I was soon typing out lists of things I owned, like books and records. I then graduated on to producing my own copies of the latest Top 40 and, yes, fantasy programme billings. Inventories of the Bond franchise, Doctor Who episodes and even Carry On films came next.

All of this was tirelessly indulged by my parents. I suppose they thought it preferable to, well, just about anything out of doors and out of earshot.

But I’ve no idea just what was so vital that it needed to be completed right now, this INSTANT, which involved my dad going to his office on one his days off and which resulted in one of the key motifs of late 20th century western civilisation, the photocopier jam.

I suspect the truth is probably too embarrassing and is best left in the dustbin of history, carbon copy and all.

Friday 23 January 1987

…Last night the school was broken into.
Nothing was stolen but it was obvious that they had been trying
to get into the computer room because there was scratching on the door…

This mystery was never solved. No clues were forthcoming from the scene of the crime and no culprits were ever caught. As such it passed into myth as The Robbery That Went Wrong. Why did the burglars fail? Were they disturbed? Did they have a last-minute attack of conscience? Could they even be somehow connected with – GASP – the school itself?

I’m pretty sure in the days following the break-in there was much lazy scapegoating among pupils and parents alike. The most popular theory was that the thieves were from one of the “undesirable” parts of town – the ones with terraces and no front gardens and cars with bin bags for windows. Looking back I’m sure it was more likely to have been someone with a younger brother or sister at the school. It always is.

I was more relieved that the rascals, wherever they hailed from, didn’t succeed. If they had done, how would I have coped as Chief Printer For Printing Things?