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.

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.