Thursday 8 May 1986

…Sent off for the Radio Times/Grandstand World Cup wallchart today.
Did Comprehension. Watched Near and Far.
Had Chips for lunch…

Glossing over the non-canonical appearance of chips (or rather, Chips) on a Thursday and not a Friday, here’s proof that I wasn’t entirely outright dismissive of sport.

The start of the 1986 World Cup was a little over three weeks away. Clearly I had succumbed to some of the hype already in evidence everywhere from the newspapers to the playground.

Yet I think my interest in getting a copy of the (free!) Radio Times/Grandstand wallchart was just as much to do with the appeal of Filling Something In as it was football.

I loved documenting the outcome of big events. In the summer of 1984 I’d had great fun filling in the results tables in my Ladybird Books guide to the Los Angeles Olympics…

Rocket man not pictured

…so I was particularly excited when Ladybird’s guide to World Cup 86 appeared:

It was this or the Panini sticker album

Being a resident of the town in which Ladybird Books had its home meant I could take it for granted that shops were always well-stocked with publications.

Naturally there was also an element of civic pride in being seen to buy and own this local company’s slim, sleek, cardboard-backed wares.

Anyway, with Ladybird’s guide already in my possession and the Beeb’s wallchart on the way, I felt I was well-placed to enjoy, albeit in a rather empirical fashion, the greatest tournament on Earth.

Meanwhile, unlike How we Used to Live and Science Workshop, Near and Far was one schools’ programme whose title sequence and theme music I never looked forward to. I know this is a far from original observation, but why did a humdrum humanities-based affair come adorned with such a bone-chilling opening?

Sunday 2 March 1986

…Went on a bridge that looked down on the M1.
I counted 103 [vehicles] in five minutes going south.
Dad counted 74 in five minutes going north…

The M1 was about five minutes’ drive from our house. This bridge would have been somewhere between junctions 22 and 23.

Growing up, the M1 came to symbolise a formidable overture to a family holiday. It was always the first road we would use en route to our annual week away somewhere in the UK every July. It would also be the first leg of a journey to see far-flung (or so it felt at the time) relatives. For these reasons, and because of its size and noise, I think I found the M1, as a concept, quite intimidating. Confronting it from above and seeing it from the perspective of an onlooker rather than a passenger would have been quite a challenge. I would have been just as much awed as intrigued.