Saturday 12 September 1987

…Went to the open day at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
It wasn’t the case that we could wander around anywhere.
We were given a guided tour, and had to troop in and out of cooling towers,
chimneys and turbine engines.
Well not literally through turbine engines, or we’d be like sausage meat going
through a mincer.
It was very very hot – you could have brought along a sunbed and could have
been in heaven next to the furnace.
The best place was the control room, as it was clean and cool and QUIET…

I remember well the relief at stepping from the noisy, dirty, indecently-hot turbine room into the blissfully peaceful control centre, full of gleaming panels with small lights winking silently. I was particularly smitten with the giant map of the National Grid that covered an entire wall.

This was before the industry got privatised, so the open day was organised by the wonderfully-named Central Electricity Generating Board. I do miss these proudly-titled organisations. They made the country feel reassuringly co-ordinated – to a naive 11-year-old, at least.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to work in a place that looked like this?

Board almighty

Monday 1 December 1986

…All today at school we put up Christmas decorations.
We were given a wall to cover in anything we liked…

I also made a point of “burning my advent candle down to number 2”, and drew a festive illustration in my diary proclaiming 23 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS. By which, given I wrote the entry last thing before going to bed, I meant that as of tomorrow there would be 23 days till Christmas.

I wasn’t getting excited. Oh no.

Friday 24 October 1986

…This evening there was a fire in the BBC Television Centre
while the Six O’clock News was on.
Terrible, but they got it under control by 6.15pm…

A search on YouTube doesn’t produce any results for this particular conflagration, but it does suggest BBC news broadcasts were rather prone to incident during the second half of the 1980s. For instance, here’s a different fire, supposedly dating from a Sunday in 1987. Cutbacks appear to have curtailed drastically the number of hymns scheduled for that evening’s usual act of worship.