Saturday 6 February 1988

…Ronald Reagan was 76 or 77 years old today.
And I was 12.
I got some clothes, £10, a notepad, a mini stationery set, two films for my camera,
a board game, a writing set and something else that I’ve forgotten.
I have a grand total of six cards.
I’m not having any sort of party, as I don’t want one,
and nobody would have come anyway.
But I’m writing this early in the evening, because there is a 007 film on in a bit.
It is one I haven’t seen: The Man With the Golden Gun.
I wonder if it will be any good…


Today, exactly two years on from when I started this blog, seems a good time to bring things to a close.

Anyone looking in even semi-regularly will have felt the last few months’ extracts turn increasingly, not to say noxiously, adolescent. Despite my best efforts to undercut everything with latterday flippancy, there’s no disguising the hastening of great gales of self-obsession, sulks and, worse of all, self-pity.

I’ve also been omitting more and more bits of the original text, and sometimes not reproducing anything from the diary for days on end, which completely undermines the whole point of this blog.

So it’s time to throw a damp towel over proceedings before the smouldering gets too much to bear.

Thanks to everyone who has left comments and been in touch. It’s been nice to know some of what I’ve published has struck a chord or prompted other memories that people have been willing to share.

The newly-12-year-old me would continue his diary, starting with impressions of yet another keenly-anticipated James Bond film.

But that, and everything else to follow, is best left unsaid, on his behalf let alone that of everyone else.

Instead, let’s leave him here, in blissful ignorance at how the next few hours, along with the next few years, will turn out.

Happy birthday to me

12 years young

Friday 6 February 1987

…It was Ronald Reagan’s birthday today.
And it was Jimmy Tarbuck’s birthday today.
And it was also MY BIRTHDAY today.
I got:
Some money
Two films for my camera
Two toy frogs
A James Bond songbook
A max/min thermometer
A conversion chart
Some drawing pins
and a little plastic container to put the drawings pins in…

I have to say this seems like a bit of a step down from last year’s haul, particularly the last two items. Utilities are not and never ought to be considered presents. Well, not presents with a capital P.

Later on I had to undergo the same ritual as last year (and for that matter every year at primary school): being summoned to the front during assembly, have to talk about a notable gift, then have a copyright-breaching version of Happy Birthday to You sung at me.

In my diary I mention how I “caught out” the teacher in charge of this farrago with some pre-prepared spiel. I’m hoping I served up a few doleful wisecracks about the drawing pins. Seeing as this was the very last time I’d have to undergo this ordeal, I’m sure I would’ve wanted to sign off in style.


I’ve now been writing this blog for exactly a year. I’ve still no idea how long I’m going to carry on. For the time being, I’m sticking with the prediction I made at the outset: that it will probably, like me, one day just suddenly stop.

However regular readers will have noticed the entries are beginning to get a bit more long-winded, gloomy and, dare I say it, confessional. These traits, not to most people’s tastes I’m sure, are about to become more pronounced with the onset of a bout of illness. As such I might give the blog a rest for a while. Nobody wants to read about someone’s self-pity, least of all a whiny 11-year-old. I’ll press on for now, but be warned: things are about to get a bit grim.

Monday 2 February 1987

Mum wants me to hurry up with today’s entry because she
wants to watch Rumpole of the Bailey at 9.00pm.
Today our class spent the whole day at Beaumanor Hall looking at boring wildlife.
We were taken there in parents’ cars and had to wait in a Field Centre room
for everybody to arrive.
The group I was in were last, of course.
We put our wellies on and got in a dinner van to go to Maplewell Wood.
Once we got there I knew it would be a disaster.
It had rained last night and everywhere was terribly muddy.
We didn’t see anything special or feel anything or touch anything special.
In fact it was dead boring.
I got bored, cold, hungry and tired and I thought of ending it all…

SPOILER: I didn’t.

Friday 7 February 1986

…Made a model of a farm in Art. I had to do the sheep dip of course.
Went out into assembly because of my birthday.
Said I had a metronome. Everybody said WHATS THAT? [sic]…

And who can blame them?

Every Friday we had an assembly at primary school where those who had enjoyed a birthday during the week had to come up to the front, talk about a notable present, then have Happy Birthday to You sung at them.

I guess my choosing to mention the metronome was one of those fatal attempts to “be different” that merely makes you look pompous and/or remote and/or stupid.

The metronome survives to this day (on top of the piano in my parents’ living room), as does my embarrassment at boasting about such a pretentious present. Why didn’t I mention the blank tapes – avowedly humdrum yet reassuringly everyday?

Thursday 6 February 1986

got a
Metronome, Shirt, Annual
Jumper, Record, Trousers
Sponge Bag, Sponge, £10
Map of night sky
Writing Paper, Envelopes
11 Cards, Blank Tapes…

This was my tenth birthday, though it appears my arrival into double figures didn’t warrant anything special in the way of gifts. Not that I would have minded getting these things; the blank tapes in particular would come in useful almost immediately.

Annoyingly there’s no further information as to the record or the annual, but the latter was possibly Roland Rat-related and the former quite probably The Sun Always Shines on TV by A-ha, both of which I would have asked for* and both of which I am proud (yes!) to say I still own.

"I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I'm back!"

*Though I’d been buying my own records for two or three years by this point. The first was Whistle Down the Wind by Nick Heyward, back in March 1983.