Saturday 30 January 1988

…This evening I went to Luke’s birthday party.
All the way through I kept trying to get us to watch Octopussy on the TV,
which was getting its premiere, instead of the film which Luke had rented,
which was called Stand by Me.
There were only about five of us there.
By the time the party finished – well, you couldn’t really call it a party – Octopussy
was halfway through and I rushed home to try and watch some more…

Ouch. What awful behaviour. And I never said sorry.

Here we see my foothold slipping on the edge of the ravine that is full-on, selfish, nauseating adolescence.

You wouldn’t think it from this, but:
a) Stand by Me is now one of my all-time favourite films
b) I knew Luke for another 10 years or so, but neither of us ever mentioned this party or what I did.

I’m not sure what’s worse: never apologising, or going for so many years not thinking I needed to apologise.

Damn you Roger Moore and your horsebox-sized jet plane!

Sounds like a load of bull

Wednesday 20 January 1988

…During lunch break I had to help try and rescue a fish in the school pond that had
a huge bit of fungus growing on its head.
We couldn’t even get it near a net, never mind inside one.
I’m not surprised – the fish is the size of a passport photo…

The fish survived for another month or so, then one day died. I was really quite upset.

Wednesday 6 January 1988

…I have a new wardrobe in my room.
Well, actually it’s more a kind of wardrobe/cupboard/shelf/draw/unit type thing.
Spent much of the day deciding what to put in it and where.
Tried to ring Mum at work but the switchboard woman put me through to a complete
stranger, the silly fool.
Tried to make a cake but it turned into a sloppy mess that looked like sick.
My sister’s Brownie group went to a panto and for some reason families could
go as well, so we were all dragged along.
It was TOO NOISY BY FAR…

It was around this time that I took against pantomimes. I became increasingly annoyed, not to say a little alarmed, at their Nuremberg rally-esque undertones: crowds whipped into hysteria by tinpot figures strutting about on a stage, thousands encouraged to idolise one person and despise another, and worse of all the audience participation. I became terrified at the mere likelihood of someone roaming around the auditorium looking for “volunteers” (itself a contradiction in terms). I hated seeing others brought up on to the stage, even if they appeared to be enjoying themselves. And I loathed, absolutely loathed, the way the “volunteers” would then be alternately patronised and ridiculed in front of everyone, the harsh theatre lights illuminating their every wince and tear.

Many of these attitudes were soon transferred over to life in general – but that’s adolescence for you, and something best left under the tarpaulin.

Thursday 19 November 1987

…DISASTER!
This time it happened last night.
King’s Cross Undergrond station caught fire and 30 people were killed.
It began when an old wooden escalator was set ablaze and
everything went up in flames.
I have used this escalator when we have visited London!
This morning we began by looking at the Dewey Decimal system…

I think I already sensed that the theme of 1987’s end-of-year retrospectives on TV and in the papers was to be, as I put it, DISASTER!

And yet this latest tragedy didn’t leave that much of a mark on either me or my diary. The same went for the other calamities of the past 12 months, from Zeebrugge to the storm. I recorded them carefully, even coldly; noted a bit of reaction; then moved on – in this instance, to Melvil Dewey.

I’d definitely reached the “bottle it all up” phase.

Wednesday 11 November 1987

…I am going to be on television!
The BBC came to school to film bits of the Curriculum Evening,
which is when parents come to see what we get up to during the day.
I had to be the caller during a French bingo session.
I didn’t realise I was going to be on camera – AAAGH!
I wonder when it will be shown…

Never. It was never shown.

Thursday 8 October 1987

…Michael and Stephanie have run away from school!
Not together, but separately.
Nobody knows where they have gone…

Both of these people were in my year, but not my class. Neither had particularly pleasant reputations, and both were bullies from the “rough” side of town. Nonetheless their actions came as a surprise and caused a major scandal.

Various people claimed to have seen them disappearing over the fields, including some who weren’t even in school at the time.

Rumours flew. They’d been in fights with teachers. They’d been caught having sex. One of them had brought a condom into school. One of them had vandalised a classroom. They’d thrown food across the canteen, or into the face of a dinner lady.

I don’t think the truth was ever established. Neither of them was expelled, and it was hard to tell if their continued absence was due to a suspension or them simply not bothering to turn up.

But eventually they did both come back, and I know this for sure because I have a later memory of spending an entire lunchtime hiding from Stephanie in a thicket of trees.

Wednesday 7 October 1987

…My watch strap has broken and I don’t know why.
This morning we had our class photographs – our individual ones, not a group one.
Ugh – it was awful.
You just can’t get away from them, even at secondary school.
We had a supply teacher for a bit, who was called Mrs Parker.
Imagine if she was Mrs No C. Parker.
But of course there is no name as “No”, so this would not work…

I never looked my best in my school photos, but I could have done without other people calling attention to this fact. The nadir occurred when, after being “done” at some point in my mid-teens, a teacher came up and said to me (and everyone in the vicinity): “What’s up with you? You look dreadful. Haha!”

I tried to think of a pithy comeback, but I was too humiliated.

Thankfully I was now at an age where I could plead pointedly and successfully with my parents for them not to order copies for their family album.

I was happy for them to remember me this way:

Yes, that is what you think it is on my jumper