Thursday 15 January 1987

…Another day off school for me and probably 999 billion other children.
Radio Leicester told the glad tidings last night that
school would be closed “until further notice”!
England have regained the Ashes and won the cricket series
in Australia 2-1.
This afternoon I finished reading Live and Let Die
and recorded the theme tune to Anzacs…

The weather was now severe and stubborn enough to warrant a mention in Kenneth Williams’ equally severe and stubborn diaries.

In the entry for 12 January he records how his mother had no cold water in her bathroom due to something being frozen in the pipe. “It is the first time it has happened in 21 years,” he wails. “I have never known such cold as this! It makes the ears sing with pain.”

Then in the entry for today, 15 January, he says: “The news was all about the disastrous results of the Siberian conditions all over the country.” He adds: “One good thing is that lots of birds have died in the freeze.” A trifle barbaric, Ken, though granted it’s not out of character.

Turning to that other foremost chronicler of recent times, in Michael Palin’s diary for 25 years ago today he mentions that LBC had taken to calling the cold snap the “Winter of Misery”.

Well, it wasn’t for me. What Palin went on to write was much more in keeping with my feelings and no doubt those of countless others:

“Plenty of children on Parliament Hill sledging on everything from proper sledges to plastic red and white striped barriers pinched from road-works abandoned during the bad weather. Arrive home glowing.”

Tuesday 13 January 1987

…Today’s weather conditions were even worse than yesterday.
The snow now is REALLY deep and when I mean really,
I mean REALLY.
This morning I trudged off to school in my wellies and
so did everybody else.
It was such a mess in the cloakroom when I came in.
Snow, wellies, shoes everywhere – it was chaos.
Somehow we all managed to get in our right classrooms.
We had to write something about how old people feel in
this appalling weather…

What a selfless gesture. Not that it did the old people any good.

Later over lunchtime there was a massive snowball fight in the playground and even more mess in the cloakroom. Well, what did the staff expect? That having let us outside we’d just stand in silence and watch as the flakes continued to fall?

Saying that, all pretence of sticking to the usual timetable had clearly vanished come the afternoon, when in lieu of our normal lesson the teacher announced we could do “anything we wanted”.

And how did I respond to this fully-sanctioned invitation to completely let rip?

I sat down and wrote a play.

Monday 12 January 1987

…AT LAST: the snow has arrived.
And there’s more to come.
Today it was over -50 in Russia and it was the coldest day in
Manchester which has only occurred three times over the last century.
This morning I froze to death when we went to school.
You should have seen what it was like at playtime.
Today in maths we were working in Base Hex.
We had to do some sums, play a type of game and
cut out bits of card: SO HARD.
It was really quite weird at first but now I know how it’s done
but I won’t explain because it’s a load of meaningless drivel…

I can’t imagine this made it into the soon-to-be-introduced national curriculum. Why we were even studying such an abstract system is bemusing. Was our teacher privy to some Whitehall documentation that suggested switching all high street transactions to a positional numeral system with a radix of 16? (And yes, I’ve just copied that explanation from another website.)

But look: we were in school even though it was snowing. The Falklands spirit lived on. That, or the outside toilets were still functioning and the NEV-R-BREAK lagging on the school boiler was just about intact.

For now…

Saturday 10 January 1987

…Today it actually SNOWED.
BUT, and there always has to be a catch, it wasn’t a proper deep covering.
I read more of Live and Let Die,
but it doesn’t seem to have the famous motorboat stunt scene,
as in the film*.
I think I am going to buy the Utterly Utterly Merry Comic Relief Book,
because it looks very funny inside
Watched The Hunter and Muppet Babies.
Then I watched Saturday Superstore whose special guest
was the prime minister: Margaret Thatcher MP…

This event doesn’t seem to have made the final cut of The Iron Lady. A shame. It would’ve been great to see Ms Streep perched on a sofa in a recreation of the Superstore studio, cooing the praises of – and thereby demolishing the credibility of – Thrashing Doves. And it would’ve been equally fascinating to see who they’d come up with to play Mike Read. David Tennant? Michael Sheen? Or maybe, for simplicity’s sake and to keep expenditure low, the man himself?

NB. It was the pig she was particularly taken by.

*Oh dear oh dear.