Friday 29 January 1988

…The theme of this week’s assembly was Australia and I had to play Waltzing
Matilda on the piano, which was as usual HIDEOUSLY EMBARRASSING.
I made a few mistakes which I thought stuck out a mile, but nobody said anything.
Handed in my Australia homework which ended up being eight pages of waffle.
My blocked-up ears, cold and sore throat got me out of PE, much to the teacher’s
displeasure, but I didn’t care and went off and did some work instead.
There was a supply teacher for science and everyone messed around so much
that at times you couldn’t hear her speak.
I felt sorry for her…

My attitude towards supply teachers evolved (or regressed, depending on your point of view) from one of sympathy to impatience. At this point I was still tending towards the former. I would regret the way they were bullied by my fellow pupils – not that I did anything to stop it. But within a couple of years I started to get tired of their inability to control a classroom and, occasionally, a bit contemptuous of them for not knowing their stuff. This wasn’t true of all of them. But we did seem to get an awful lot. And all too often, the dreaded “let’s push the tables apart and sit in a circle” kind.

Tuesday 26 January 1988

…I’m hurring through tonight’s entry as I’m writing it in between trying to watch
Carry on Matron.
In Expressive Arts this morning we had to do a play on the theme of pets.
Ours went down well – went down the bin, that is.
Got 18 and a half out of 20 in a French test, which is TRES BIEN I think.
Australia is 200 years old…

I wasn’t the only one who’d been regularly tuning in to these Tuesday night Carry Ons.

In his diary for today, Kenneth Williams wrote: “Watched the TV news and then Carry On Matron. I was amazed ‘cos there was actually a story/idea behind this one, as opposed to the usual stream of would-be jokes… I looked about 35! It was odd to watch – Bill Kenwright made a brief appearance! – and possibly, my bits were the best I’ve ever managed in that sort of crap.”

He’s wrong of course, but there is this particularly fantastic scene:

The week before he’d lambasted Carry on Henry: “It was so bad in places… truly chronic dialogue… dreadful acting. A collection of such rubbish you’re amazed it could have ever been stuck together. Only an audience of illiterates could ever have found this tripe amusing.”

This illiterate did and still does rate Henry as one of the best – likewise Abroad, about which Kenny had wailed a few weeks ago:  “I was featured doing all the old crap. Looking at this rubbish you realise that nothing has changed! British sit-coms [sic] all consist of the same routines, jokes, and dirt. Very depressing.”

Monday 25 January 1988

…First thing this morning [my teacher] asked us all to stand up and stay standing
only if we had:
a) brought in our homework diary
b) had completed all our homework
c) come in on Friday when it was snowing
d) brought in our play money
e) had brought in our Parent Evening slips
Only three people were left standing – and I was one of them…

Oh dear.

Yes, it’s all very well playing by the rules and being good, but did there need to be this kind of rigamarole that left me embarrassed and isolated from everyone else? I ended up feeling like I was the one who was in the wrong,

The “play money” was for a trip to the town hall theatre on Wednesday to see a pantomime that I would sum up in my diary as “absolutely useless”.

The “Parent Evening slips” were bits of paper on which my mum and dad had indicated which slots were most convenient for them to come and meet my form tutor.

Because both my parents were – by now – lucky enough to be in work, these slots were always in the early evening, usually after 7pm. I don’t recall there being much competition from other families.

Friday 22 January 1988

…It had to happen and it did.
The weather forecast said SLIGHT SNOW was going to happen today.
In fact the place was as bad as last January.
I reckon about two-thirds of school didn’t bother turning up.
Around a half of the teachers weren’t there.
Loads of people just decided to go home at lunchtime.
The system was in chaos.
Snowballs rained down on you the moment you stepped outside.
Yet somehow I was one of the ones who did make it to school and, yes, stayed
until the whole building was closed around 3pm.
Trains were halted, people were stuck and more snow is forecast.

It didn’t stay long. Most of the snow had gone by the end of the weekend. But I was glad – evidently – that the season hadn’t passed without some proper wintry weather to enjoy. And my efforts to both attend and remain at school would unexpectedly pay off come Monday.

Wednesday 20 January 1988

…During lunch break I had to help try and rescue a fish in the school pond that had
a huge bit of fungus growing on its head.
We couldn’t even get it near a net, never mind inside one.
I’m not surprised – the fish is the size of a passport photo…

The fish survived for another month or so, then one day died. I was really quite upset.