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?

Tuesday 20 January 1987

…At swimming we had to do eight circuits.
I only managed six.
In 20 minutes.
Oh well.
This meant I did one circuit in about every three minutes.
A circuit is about one-and-a-half lengths, or 75 metres.
Then we had to tread water in the middle of the pool
for about seven minutes.
It’s daylight robbery…

Not quite sure what I’m getting at here. Daylight robbery of my time? If so, things didn’t get any better later on back at school, when we spent an entire lesson apparently trying to draw an invention for catching pheasants. I couldn’t think of one so “I didn’t hand mine in”. Fair enough.

Monday 19 January 1987

…Back to school after the five-day break, three of which being
taken up by the days we were off [because of the snow].
We played in the snow and wrote an accident report.
Had to make a snowflake and draw a snow crystal.
I didn’t go out during the lunch break and instead I stayed inside
with Edward and listened to a James Bond tape…

This was the tape I’d made of the album I’d had for Christmas. But I’d added a couple of tracks of my own.

One, rather egotistically, was a recording of me playing the James Bond theme on the piano.

The second was a rather more ambitious affair, involving – gasp – some production work.

I thought it’d be good to edit together all the bits in the theme songs where the name of the corresponding film was mentioned. Hence Matt Munro crooning “From Russia with love” was spliced next to Shirley Bassey bellowing “Goldfinger” followed immediately by Tom Jones booming “Thunderball” and so on.

How the hours, and they were hours, tedious and deeply frustrating hours spent pausing and rewinding and recording and pausing and rewinding, flew by. Don’t ask me what I did for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Saturday 17 January 1987

…There was no school again today – as it was THE WEEKEND
in case you didn’t know.
Went down at 8.30am to watch The Hunter, Muppet Babies and
Saturday Superstore which today had Christopher Reeve as a guest.
We cleared the extension roof of snow and then made a giant snowman.
After lunch me and Mum went into town to buy Whizzer and Chips,
Muppet Babies Disney Magazine,
some satsumas,
some tissues,
a Flake,
two Wispa bars
and the Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Book…

This was and still is a very fine publication:

Over 16 million books sold by the authors of...

Admittedly it’s now a relic of that late, lamented time when the phrase “Comic Relief” stood for both of those things.

But gags about Thatcher and Reagan and Frank Bough’s cardigans (cf Adrian Mole’s Christmas) are just as funny today as they were then. Well, they are to me.

Plus it’s got new stuff by Douglas Adams, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Smith and Jones, Spitting Image, The Young Ones, Rowan Atkinson, Stephen Fry… everyone you’d expect given the era. Oh, and spoof programme billings – in both Radio Times and TV Times fonts!

ck when the merely the name Bob Monkhouse was considered funny
I’m actually a bit surprised I was allowed to buy it. The language is often, as one of my uncles used to say, a bit blue. I reckon my parents must have thought it was simply a kids’ joke book raising a bit of money for charity. I’m absolutely certain they wouldn’t have let me own it had they seen this page:

Alternative comedy