Wednesday 5 November 1986

..WHIZZ! BANG!
It’s Bonfire Night.
We saw tons and tons of fireworks going off, for free!
Every year the students [union at Loughborough University] hold a bonfire and
fireworks party on 5 November, and as we live almost next to the university
we have a free show…

I’m pretty sure the students’ union still does this, though I think nowadays you have to pay a princely sum to go and stand on the playing fields should you wish to watch the display in person. Back in 1986 and for many years after it was free, both to onlookers in nearby properties and your actual attendees.

My parents still live in the same house as they did then, which means that tonight, as on every 5 November, they will have gathered on the landing, turned off the lights, and spent half an hour or so peering out of the window to watch the neighbourhood be garlanded by cloudbursts of multi-coloured spectacle.

Then the students’ party will have begun, and they, along with everyone else in the street, will have closed the curtains and tried to block out the thunderous disco beats that will continue until 2am.

Wednesday 27 August 1986

…I nearly died today.
Me and [my sister] bought some rope with our own money
and we tied it to a tree to climb up it.
There is a ledge halfway up and I
climbed up halfway and while I was
standing on the ledge I slipped and fell,
catching my back on the ledge.
I was winded for about 30 seconds.
But I soon recovered.
I have no bones broken (I hope)…

My mum was having tea with a neighbour at the time, and I well remember the embarrassment of stumbling into the kitchen, not entirely sure why I couldn’t breathe but knowing that something was badly wrong, yet having to still maintain a desperate pretence of dignity and politeness in front of our guest.

“I… can’t… can’t… breathe… oh, hello… nice to… see you… again… hope you’re… sorry, I… can’t… (collapses on floor).”