Tuesday 30 September 1986

…We had to do a poem about an animal. I did the penguin:
“The penguin lives in the cold South Pole
It is never never on the dole.
They always first get shipped away
To be wrapped in paper the very same day.
They get sent to shops all around
And people eat them when they are found.
They throw the paper clean away
It may turn up another day”…

I have nothing to add.

Wednesday 20 August 1986

…Went into town this morning with Mum.
Saw thousands of people I knew.
Well, not exactly a thousand, about two.
Later I made a wire collar and lead for a dog
so me and [my sister] now have invisible dogs…

Still no sign of the giddy consumerism of the 80s, then. There was a well-stocked and hugely popular toy shop in the town centre that I’m sure would have satisfied all my “invisible dog on a lead” needs. Instead, I decided to make my own.

Or rather, I was forced to make my own.

It can’t have been that difficult, though I’m surprised I had the patience or the wherewithal. Perhaps it was the comedy value inherent in the finished article. In fact, so proud was I with what I created that I’m fairly sure we took our “dogs” for a “walk” around the block later that evening.

And oh, what a feeling of inclusivity ensued, as we passed our neighbours with their bikes, skateboards, rollerboots and remote-controlled toy cars, not to mention real dogs…

Monday 18 August 1986

…Made some coconut squares this afternoon.
Did a map of the real layout of the London Underground.
Started one on London itself…

I’d forgotten how obsessed with London I was during the summer of 1986. It’s not as if I hadn’t visited the place before, but the trip at the end of July must have set a good few psychological hares running.

Both of these projects went the way of all the other ones I attempted around this time: up on my bedroom wall, then down the back of the wardrobe, then into the bottom of the bin.

The coconut squares, however, became something of a calling card for a while, to be later replaced by – sequentially – rock cakes, cherry buns, flapjacks and date loaf.

The penultimate of these saw me right through my teens and 20s, until one occasion, on being invited to make a batch for a friend, I accidentally used salt instead of sugar, and my culinary confidence was blasted into tiny, miserable crumbs.

Sunday 20 July 1986

…I am doing a book called Leicestershire By Car.
It has maps and information and places of interest in and of Leicestershire.
Had a late lunch at 2.00pm.
Frank Bruno lost his fight with Tim Witherspoon for the World Heavyweight Title…

We’d arrived back from Anglesey the previous afternoon.

Our annual family holiday adhered to a template from which no deviation occurred right through my childhood: seven nights in a self-catering cottage somewhere in the UK, beginning the second Saturday in July.

I didn’t mind that it was the same every year, because I didn’t know any different.

We went to various places in the UK, but to all intents and purposes it was the same holiday over and over again, just with a change of backdrop.

We would eat the same food, wear the same clothes and watch the same television as we did back home. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

It seems the chief legacy of my seven days in Anglesey was yet another pet project. I must have been inspired by a travel guide we’d used while away.

Leicestershire By Car has long since disappeared from both existence and memory. The print run extended to one copy of probably around six pages. Sadly, it was unfinished and abandoned after a few days, in favour of the next folly to grab my attention.

Thursday 26 June 1986

…Did silent reading, SMP and a bit of Ginn reading.
Did more on my Union Jack mosaic as well as finishing my puppet in Games time.
No music lesson because piano teacher had a hospital appointment for once…

Hurrah: the puppet was finally finished.

This was not the same puppet that had so spectacularly failed to entertain my peers the previous week.

Rather, this was the mangy marionette I had toiled over in many Art lessons during the past two months, and which I was allowed to take home with me on the last day of term (now only a week or so away).

I didn’t show it to anyone. Raw memories of my brief brush with public puppetry ensured this creation was taken straight into my bedroom and never saw light of day again.

It hung on the back of my door for about six years, before being usurped by my A-level Chemistry lab coat.

I threw it away shortly afterwards, thereby making it one of the few things from my childhood not to stubbornly survive the intervening years in order to be exhumed a clutch of decades later.

For some reason I was more keen on preserving the likes of this, which hails from 1984:

Steven Moffat's sketch of next year's Dr Who story arc