Sunday 27 December 1987

…Went to see [other grandparent and uncle who lived near Stratford-upon-Avon].
There was a £20 note waiting for me there.
However before I could get to it, the car broke down.
Well, we thought it might be about to break down.
The oil light kept flashing and we had to call the AA.
We had stopped in a tiny village and had to use a nearby telephone box.
The AA took 70 minutes to get to us!
We had no way of letting the others know we would be late…

OH WHAT A PRIMITIVE WORLD WE LIVED IN. I don’t know why we didn’t use the telephone box to phone my grandmother and tell her about our predicament. Maybe we didn’t have enough change. But in which case we should have knocked on the door of a nearby house because, as I’d recently seen the film Clockwise, a maniacally humorous situation would obviously have ensued.

Thursday 13 August 1987

…I had to push Granny’s trolley round Sainsbury’s because
she had a pain in her shoulder…

Our family always went shopping on Thursday. My mum, who’d yet to return to full-time employment, would head off to Sainsbury’s around 10am, stopping along the way to pick up her own mother, who lived on the other side of town.

During term time the two of them would do the shopping by themselves, and it would take most of the morning. But during the school holidays my sister and I would have to come along as well. The thinking was this would speed up the whole process. The reality was it made things take even longer, because we would be distracted, would play with the trolleys, wouldn’t know where things were in the aisles, and would linger in front of Sainsbury’s primitive in-store bakery counter unable to decide whether to choose a doughnut or an iced bun as a treat.

Why don’t they have the metal turnstiles in front of supermarkets anymore?

Good food costed less

Tuesday 8 July 1986

…Went to Granny’s in the morning.
I watched a film which starred Sean Connery in a black and white comedy…

I don’t mention the title. Scanning Sir Sean’s page on IMDb, I wonder if it might have been this. It’s the only vaguely “comic” monochrome effort he seems to have done.

Besides not mentioning the name, I don’t say what I thought of it, or what channel it was on. Chances are, given I was visiting my grandparents, it would’ve been on ITV – although I’m surprised the channel would be shoving out a black-and-white film before lunchtime.

Presumably Once Upon A Time… Man was on a hiatus.

Monday 26 May 1986 (Bank Holiday)

…Day off today and tomorrow because of the half-term holiday.
Wasn’t allowed to watch the James Bond film Live and Let Die…”

More evidence of the frustratingly different (and in my 10-year-old mind, illogical) regimes run in my parents’ house and in that of my grandparents.

Earlier in the month I’d been allowed to watch Diamonds are Forever: my first TV Bond. Now here I was being denied even a snatch of the sequel (no Roger Moore-esque pun intended).

This seemed preposterous to me then, as it does now. Why the inconsistency between generations? Didn’t my mum and dad check to see what my granny and grandad let me watch?

Come to think of it I’m rather glad they didn’t. Or if they did, they can’t have been told the full story. To add to the mystery, I don’t think my grandparents even liked James Bond.

Anyway, being denied, as the following fantastic trailer booms, “more excitement, more action, more danger, and more – much more: Roger Moore!” ruined my bank holiday. Though not quite to the extent that McCartney’s theme is ruined by that nightclub singer halfway through:

Monday 7 April 1986

…Back to school.
Did SMP and creative writing.
Also starting a project about Astronomy.
I started designing a breakfast making machine…

In the mid-80s I was briefly intrigued by teasmades.

My grandparents had one. It was a Goblin, naturally.

I wanted one. I never got one.
I never saw them use it, but I used to sneak glances at it through the door of their bedroom whenever we were visiting.

It looked incredibly futuristic, especially alongside all my grandparents’ more antiquated clutter.

As for the concept, I was fairly bowled over.

A machine that not only woke you up but could make a hot drink as well? What kind of crazy hi-tech gadgetry was this?!

Crazy hi-tech gadgetry: that was what hooked me, and that was what probably inspired me to have a stab at designing my own version of a teasmade.

Except it couldn’t just be a teasmade. It had to be a full-blown, whistles-and-bells “breakfast making machine”.

I’m guessing it involved a toaster, a bowl for cereal and a glass for orange juice, all of which were serviced by robotic limbs at the flick of a button.

I have to guess, because unfortunately no evidence of this device has survived. Nor is it ever mentioned in my diary again.

It remains another pet project with which I was momentarily obsessed, and which I discarded just as quickly as I took it up.

Sunday 16 March 1986

…Had beef for lunch today.
Recorded EastEnders theme tune.
Went to Grannys and watched loads of TV programmes: Brat Farrar, Antiques Roadshow, Hancock’s Half Hour and some of Miss Marple while Granny and Grandad played Patience…

In 1986 I had three grandparents still alive. The two that came as a set lived in the same town as us, and visits for tea were common.

I used to really look forward to these occasions, chiefly because a) my gran made really nice homemade biscuits; b) they had a much bigger TV than us; and c) they took TV Times, whereas we only took Radio Times.

They also both watched far more ITV than BBC, whereas – again – the reverse was true of my parents.

Visiting my grandparents was therefore not merely a chance to plant myself amongst a whole other, slightly-alien generation, one that had a cooked meal everyday at midday and were in bed every night by 10pm, but was also a chance to read about and see a whole new world of TV faces.

Indeed, I think I watched my first ever episode of The A Team at my grandparents’ house.

Yet reading my entry for today in 1986, I’m surprised I was allowed to watch Hancock’s Half Hour. Years later my mum told me that her mother had never let her watch Hancock, believing him to be “a nasty piece of work”.