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…

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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

Thursday 5 November 1987

…Today was the night of the fireworks.
There were loads going off near us, and they still are.
There are also students everywhere messing about with them – typical.
Of course we didn’t have any fireworks, we never do…

This withering remark wasn’t entirely true. One year we did have fireworks, but they were pathetic. We only had about three, and two of them were rockets which flew up into the sky and out of sight. The third was some sort of fountain that sat on the ground, ejaculating sadly.

Sparklers were more ubiquitous. We had them a few years’ running when I was of primary school age, and I remember feeling very grown up the first time I was allowed to hold one myself, as opposed to having it held for me. It was the sound as much as the light that fascinated me.

This has come to prove something of a motif for my life, as I must have heard at least 10 times as many firework displays as I have actually seen.

One year, when I was living in Liverpool, a rocket let off during a display at the nearby Mersey TV studios to mark the 20th birthday of Brookside was so loud it cracked one of my living room windows.

Another year in Liverpool I went to watch the display in Sefton Park and ended up being more moved by the soundtrack (it ended with Freddie Mercury’s Barcelona) than anything else.

Perhaps fireworks are always better heard and not seen. They certainly make for a stunning addition to this, one of the greatest pop records ever made.

Monday 17 August 1987

…Today it rained sand.
Honest.
The wind had blown it right up from the Sahara and dropped it on us.
Cars were covered in it…

I seem to recall this occurring more than once in my childhood, but every time it happened it was as if snow had fallen on Christmas Day. People would step gingerly through their half-opened front doors, placing one foot on the ground as if unsure of its solidity, then teeter along the pavement, one hand pointing, the other clapped to the side of their face.

If it still happens now, it is not reported, let alone acknowledged. Like many extraordinary things from those times, it has become ordinary. The fanciful is now commonplace; the exceptional, mundane. All the hues of my childhood, even those the colour of sand, seem to have been heightened with the passing of time. Were the 1980s really that bright?

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

Saturday 8 August 1987

…Bought Whizzer and Chips and also bought my new diary.
It is the same sort of design as this one, except it covers 1987/88 instead of
1986/87 – obviously…

I was to stick with academic year diaries for another five years. It’d be even longer before I stopped thinking of life as a sequence of 12-month periods beginning in September and ending in August.