Wednesday 15 April 1987

…What a day to have the Zeebrugge ferry disaster memorial service:
the day on which in 1912 the unsinkable Titanic sank.
Coincidence you might say, and I hope that you are right…

Who is this “you” that I am addressing rather pompously? Up to now I hadn’t really treated my diary as something – or someone – with which a conversation could be held. The whole “dear diary” approach only kicks in when you’re a teenager – doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m not really sure what I’m up to here, aside from some po-faced moralising, which in an 11-year-old is never a good thing.

Although you have to concede I did have a point.

Tuesday 17 March 1987

…The Budget was mostly a big surprise.
People had predicted the 2p fall in income tax [down from 29p to 27p].
But very few people had suspected that nothing was to be done about
cigarettes, alcohol and petrol.
On the contrary, I think they SHOULD have put more tax on them,
because smoking and drinking are very bad habits.
Well, that’s enough about the Budget…

Quite.

Perhaps I should say that nobody in our house smoked, and my mum and dad only drank on Sundays, when they had one glass of sherry at lunchtime, and that was it.

I didn’t think anything unusual of this until I was older and realised the people who I’d seen going into the pub at the bottom of our road weren’t just students but GROWN-UPS: ordinary men and women, sometimes alone, often in couples, occasionally even with families.

I never once visited a pub with my family as a child. I was never offered alcohol at home, and I never asked for it. When I did discover it, I discovered I didn’t really like it, though I went on drinking anyway. But thankfully that’s another story, and mercifully one that is safely many years into the future.

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.

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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.

Wednesday 31 December 1986

…359 DAYS TILL CHRISTMAS!
Last night I had a nose bleed at 3am until 4am.
It’s not fair.
I hate nose bleeds.
This is the last day of 1986: the year Prince Andrew and
Sarah Ferguson got married.
The year the space shuttle blew up.
The year of the nuclear explosion at Chernobyl.
The year in which we went to Anglesey.
The year in which I took two piano exams and
the year in which I should have tried better to play sport at school.
It was also the year Mum went to Sainsbury’s 50 times…

…This is my last entry for 1986.
I hope the new year will be like this one only better…

I would like to associate myself with the remarks made by myself 25 years ago today.

Thursday 6 November 1986

…ITEM OF THE WEEK!
Each week on Thursday I will choose an Item of the Week and three Leaves of the Week.
THIS WEEK:
ITEM: An empty paint spray can with the top and nozzle off.
THREE LEAVES: Fig, for an ear muff; Sycamore, for a duster;
and another Sycamore for a tissue…

I seem to have turned a bit giddy this week in 1986, what with the letter to the CEGB and now this unexpected foray into a mild yet unsuccessful form of Pythonesque, Round the Horne-ish whimsy.

A quick look ahead in my diary reveals, not surprisingly, that ITEM OF THE WEEK was the first in a series of one.

Of more consequence was what I watched on television later: “Z Cars, What’s My Line and Bruce Forsyth and The Generation Game.”

This was close to the finest evening class in popular television history it was possible to get:

Spoiled we were, utterly spoiled