Saturday 14 November 1987

…I have been really down today.
The fair is in town for one thing, and I never like it.
It causes so much disruption, the roads are in chaos and the rides are terrible.
I have also had a really horrible cold.
This evening we all had to go to this party, which was for a couple who Mum and
Dad knew and who had got married earlier in the day.
It was terrible.
Music, dancing, noise: OUCH…

Adolescence alert!

(Although to be honest, this does seem uncannily like any entry in any of my diaries from any point in the last 25 years.)

Wednesday 11 November 1987

…I am going to be on television!
The BBC came to school to film bits of the Curriculum Evening,
which is when parents come to see what we get up to during the day.
I had to be the caller during a French bingo session.
I didn’t realise I was going to be on camera – AAAGH!
I wonder when it will be shown…

Never. It was never shown.

Tuesday 10 November 1987

…In Expressive Arts we had to pretend to be witnesses to a house burning down and
act out interviews with the police and journalists…

This was the sort of expressive arts l liked. Not making up dance routines with chairs like Sally Bowles in Cabaret, or doing a percussion workshop that sounded like an explosion in a guiro factory. No, this was proper stuff: role playing and acting and constructive escapism. To use a near-contemporary phrase, it said something to me about my life. Granted, I’d never been in a house fire, but I’d accidentally once set light to a teatowel.

Sunday 8 November 1987

…Remembrance Sunday was ruined by the IRA who planted a bomb in Northern Ireland
during a big remembrance service.
On a lighter note, we finished our tour of the Peak District…”

Ouch. What was I thinking? Not much, clearly. And certainly not: “I wonder how this will read in 25 years’ time?”

We’d spent the weekend in Buxton. The word “tour” makes it sound like some motoring holiday or a quasi-regal procession. In fact we’d spent one night in a hotel, had our lunches sitting in the car and our tea in a Little Chef.

It was a bit of novelty going away during term-time, even for one night. This might even have been the first occasion we’d ever done so. I found it incredibly daring and not a little risky. I actually wrote of how relieved I was at seeing the house “intact” on our return. What had I expected to find? That it had blown away?

Thursday 5 November 1987

…Today was the night of the fireworks.
There were loads going off near us, and they still are.
There are also students everywhere messing about with them – typical.
Of course we didn’t have any fireworks, we never do…

This withering remark wasn’t entirely true. One year we did have fireworks, but they were pathetic. We only had about three, and two of them were rockets which flew up into the sky and out of sight. The third was some sort of fountain that sat on the ground, ejaculating sadly.

Sparklers were more ubiquitous. We had them a few years’ running when I was of primary school age, and I remember feeling very grown up the first time I was allowed to hold one myself, as opposed to having it held for me. It was the sound as much as the light that fascinated me.

This has come to prove something of a motif for my life, as I must have heard at least 10 times as many firework displays as I have actually seen.

One year, when I was living in Liverpool, a rocket let off during a display at the nearby Mersey TV studios to mark the 20th birthday of Brookside was so loud it cracked one of my living room windows.

Another year in Liverpool I went to watch the display in Sefton Park and ended up being more moved by the soundtrack (it ended with Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona) than anything else.

Perhaps fireworks are always better heard and not seen. They certainly make for a stunning addition to this, one of the greatest pop records ever made.