Sunday 25 October 1987

…Today I have been VERY VERY ILL.
I have been sick – lots of times.
I threw up four times in fact.
I hardly had any food but drank lots of Lucozade which made up for lost energy.
I gradually felt a bit better but was stranded in bed for much of the day.
I watched Children’s BBC this morning which cheered me up a bit but not much…

Throughout my life I never drank Lucozade when I was not feeling unwell. It was a liquid that I only considered tasting when I was ill. It was therefore unique in commanding the ability to call into my mind, via some kind of over-sweet sensory thread, a tapestry of sickness spooling all the way back to my early childhood. I could not recall a spell of illness without it.

But then, a few years ago, I kept a bottle of it in my fridge for about 12 months, in anticipation of a period when I would be under the weather. Such a period never came, I never drank the Lucozade, it went out of date, but still I didn’t throw it away. It became a sort of anti-sickness talisman; an object whose very presence seemed to guarantee good health.

As such I have now reached a point where I cannot risk tasting the stuff for fear it will provoke illness rather than aid recovery from it.

And I never really liked it to begin with.

Oh pipe down, Daley Thompson.

Friday 12 June 1987

…Mrs Thatcher is back in office for another five years.
She won with an overall majority of 102.
Nobody expected it to be quite so big.
Labour are the opposition along with the Alliance, the Scottish Nationalists,
Plaid Cymru and various Irish parties.
I stayed up until 1.30am watching the BBC’s coverage.
It was great – I had my map and my list of marginal seats, plus a cold flannel
to help me stay awake.
Dad stayed up a bit later than me I think, but not much.
I wasn’t as tired as I thought I would be this morning.
At school nobody else had stayed up to watch the election.
Instead we had to write a story about a slime monster.
There was a Rounders tournament but I didn’t go as I was
reading in the classroom, and then had to help Mrs Emmett [the art teacher]
with a delivery of paper.
Finally had the hospital appointment about my ears – more antibiotics…

Many years later I would finally get to see, write about, and then try to sound witty about, the whole of the BBC’s 1987 election results coverage.

But for now I had to make do with three hours or so on Thursday night, then half an hour during Breakfast Time, and finally the very last 10 minutes of the Friday afternoon programme, thanks to me getting home promptly from my hospital appointment. I was particularly thrilled to see Philip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher both sporting nicely-pressed suits when they followed on from David Dimbleby to introduce Children’s BBC.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t really have any appreciation of what Mrs Thatcher’s victory might mean for the country in a literal sense. I had only a kind of abstract grasp of the details of her party’s policies. But this was a damn sight more than my fellow pupils, some of whom didn’t even know who the prime minister was.

I know this for a fact because I tried to ask some of them about it in the playground when I arrived this morning. To be fair, I suppose their blank looks might have been a sort of affected indifference. Or maybe they’d decided to always react like that whenever I started talking to them.

The election had undoubtedly proved to be a useful distraction from my continuing partial deafness. Today’s appointment with a consultant at Loughborough General Hospital would turn out to be the breakthrough and lead, within a few weeks, to my hearing problems disappearing for the rest of the century.

Which was a relief, as I’d come to believe they would, like Mrs T vowed of herself, go on and on and on.

Evil Edna stages a political comeback

Monday 1 June 1987

…I didn’t go to school today.
Nobody did.
That was because the whole school was going on a trip to Tissington
in Derbyshire to see the dressed wells.
We left in coaches at 9.30am and were there at 10.40am.
Dressed wells – hmm.
The only nice thing was the water coming out of them.
Then everybody was supposed to go on a walk, but I had a nose bleed.
I was told I had to stay with the infants and watch them on the swings.
I felt useless.
I then had to travel back on the coach with them, instead of with my own class.
One of the infants was sick.
A whole yoghurt came up.
YUUUUUUUK.
Of course my nose bleed had stopped the minute my class went off on its walk.
What an educational day out….

Although not quite as mortifying as a trip to, say, a box factory, a visit to see some wells can’t have counted as one of the highlights of the school year.

The ancient pagan tradition for dressing wells with flowers and other decorations apparently originated in Tissington. I don’t think anybody in our class, myself included, were old enough to appreciate the history and artistry on display. Clearly the infants weren’t. One of them made their feelings very clear on the return journey*.

What a day to get another nose bleed.

*No manners, but what a critic.

Monday 25 May 1987 (Bank Holiday)

…The first of two days off school for half-term.
I am feeling much better.
I’ve been up all of today and have eaten and drunk a few things.
Listened to Cat’s Whiskers this morning, which are radio programmes for
children that are on every holiday.
My ear is still blocked up,
but Mum has already said I won’t have to do PE this week…

Now there’s a tonic to make anyone feel better… although obviously not too much.

Sunday 24 May 1987

…All I’ve had to eat or drink today was an apple and three glasses of orange juice.
I am on my death bed.
I stayed in bed all day and didn’t go anywhere.
My symptoms are: ear-ache, blocked-up nose, dizzy, sick and utterly horrible.
I’m sorry…

Oh dear, yet another bout of ill-health. At least I made the effort to apologise to all of you, 25 years in advance.

Friday 8 May 1987

…I went back to school today despite my ears, cough and general illness.
Everybody seemed to have forgotten about me because
they acted as if I wasn’t there.
We had a maypole practice in the playground, which was awful.
Everybody felt stupid because people walking past kept staring.
Lunch was a hard-boiled egg, grated cheese, salad cream, lettuce, a
chopped-up apple, an orange slice, a baked potato and an iced biscuit…

Once a month or so we’d get vaguely healthy dinners delivered by the local education authority, which nobody really enjoyed but which actually sound quite tasty now. I like how the apple was chopped up, as if we wouldn’t be able to work out how to eat the fruit were it presented to us whole. Mind you, chopped-up apple avoids social ostracism, a subject on which I already had strong views and experience.