Tuesday 31 March 1987

…[Our teacher] grabbed me and Edward this afternoon and virtually
threw us into the staff room.
He gave us a talking to about sport and our attitude.
He said he wanted to be fair with us.
The results are that swimming will be made a lot easier – we won’t have to be in
the top group anymore.
However for PE we are now going to be expected to help teach the infants
as well as doing our usual lesson.
That increases PE to THREE HOURS A WEEK!
How is this fair?…

Imagine my fury at being compelled to do this, and just days after moaning that the rest of my class gave the impression that all they wanted to do was play sport. Yet here was I getting landed with more PE, while the rest of my peers just carried on as before!

Worse – my “attitude” was supposedly to benefit from helping five and six-year-olds learn to catch a ball.

Had I taken the long view I would have wryly accepted this silly arrangement, knowing it would all be over in three months when I left primary school for good. But I wasn’t good at the long view 25 years ago, and instead merely raged inwardly at having mounting attention drawn towards my inadequacies.

Naturally, none of this improved my “attitude” towards PE one bit. I’d been doing it for seven years and still hadn’t found a sport I was a good at. Surely I’d suffered enough?

Friday 27 March 1987

…Almost everything went wrong today.
First of all Edward announced that I couldn’t go to see his video of Dr No
tomorrow because he was going somewhere.
It’s been almost a week since it was on TV.
I suppose I’ll have to wait ANOTHER week and go through all the usual
stuff I hate – PE, swimming, [school] choir, maypole dancing – until I get to see it.
I didn’t get to have chips from the chippy this evening,
which I had been looking forward to.
Plus Grange Hill had a sad ending, because it was the last one in the series.
Lunch was cheese pie – YUK – tomatoes, cress and coleslaw, followed by
an orange portion…

The sentence “Almost everything went wrong today” must appear in my diaries more than any other. I’ve used it at least half a dozen times already this year*.

Yet the most alarming thing about this extract is that I appear to have started maypole dancing again. The last recorded mention of this was a year or so ago, when I noted I’d been kicked out of the team. Yet here I am back in the fold – totally unwillingly, it must be emphasised. I wonder what had happened.

I hated maypole dancing. The humiliation was total. It forced you into the kind of intimate body contact with fellow pupils that was utterly repulsive for children at the age of 10 or 11. The pole we had to parade around was decades old and falling to pieces. The top part, to which the coloured ribbons were attached, kept toppling off and landing on us, mid-prance. The ribbons themselves felt – and smelt – like they’d been manufactured in the late-1940s, possibly from the uniforms of demobbed soldiers. And then there was the music: ghastly winsome oom-pah tunes on a recording no doubt hailing from some rural free love festival in 1967.

You’ve got the idea that it was not a good thing, right?

* That goes for both 1987 and 2012.

Thursday 26 March 1987

…I have been asked to design a programme for the school spring fair
which will be on a school morning in May.
Terrible really.
I got cold and wet in PE and played a game of chess on a gigantic board…

Here is what I came up with for the spring fair, working together with three of my fellow pupils:

May mourning, more like

I can’t claim credit for any of the design. I think I may have come up with the concept, such as it is. I know I was responsible for the “ACME Cliff” sign. Oh, the hilarity. A bit of cheek charging 25p, though.

As for the game of chess on a “gigantic board”, how I really really hope it was like this:

I am not a Bishop, I am a free man!

Sunday 22 March 1987

…I didn’t find out who won the Littlewoods Cup, or the Milk Cup
as it used to be called.
At least I think I don’t know.
It might have been between Spurs and Liverpool, and Spurs won.
This afternoon I rollerbooted in the rain and fell over, then came in to listen to
The Lord of the Rings on Radio 4.
Watched Supergran, some International Athletics, a bit of Antiques Roadshow
and precisely 30 minutes of Dr No.
Yes, even while Dad was there in the room.
Then I had to switch over to the BAFTA Awards…

My confusion about who had won the Littlewoods Cup final is perhaps explained by the fact it had yet to take place. The match was actually on 5 April.

As such I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m talking about here. Both Spurs and Liverpool were in the semi-finals, but in different matches, held nowhere near today’s date of 22 March. Indeed I see that Spurs had to play their match against Arsenal three times before a winner emerged. And it wasn’t Spurs.

Anyway, that clearly wasn’t the most important event of the day. The first 30 minutes of Dr No represent perhaps the most boring half hour in the Bond canon, but at least I got to watch them, as they were broadcast, in my own home.

Something of a result, then.

Which is more than can be said for Liverpool, who went on to lose the 1987 Littlewoods Cup final to Arsenal.

Do football programmes still have illustrated covers?

Friday 20 March 1987

…Mrs Kirkham [the headmistress] has been really horrible today.
She is a TWIT.
She never realises that class 4 have privileges.
She thinks we are all a bunch of noisy brats who don’t want to do any work
and want to do lots of sport.
I want to do work, have our privileges back, and not to have PE.
In Art we had to make traffic lights with bits of coloured paper…

I’m not sure what these “privileges” were; maybe getting to listen to tapes at dinnertime. The sad reality was most of my class were noisy brats who didn’t want to do any work. My headmistress was right. Not for the last time I was imagining my minority view was that of the majority. I should have just shut up and got on with cutting up my coloured paper.