Wednesday 30 December 1987

…Another shopping day.
At least this time I bought six books with my various monies, i.e. the £10 book
token and the £4.50 WHSmith voucher.
But of course we had to go to Marks and Spencer which was utterly boring.
We’d gone to Nottingham but it was a trip packed with incident because:
a) we got directed straight past the correct car park where we wanted to go, so
we had to find another car park nearby, much to the displeasure of Dad, and
b) Mum and Dad forgot their chequebook so they had to find a branch of Midland
Bank which was miles away to withdraw some money so they could order some
new furniture from Jessops before it had sold out.
Because of all this we didn’t have lunch until around 3.00pm in a Little Chef off the M1, after which we decided to just come straight home anyway…

Believe me, this did count as a day “packed with incident”. It still would.

A late lunch in a Little Chef? Yes, the 1980s had finally, FINALLY, arrived.

Tuesday 29 December 1987

…Today was a Tuesday and we decided to go to the sales.
Well, Mum and Dad didn’t want to, but we wanted to because we wanted to spend
some of our Christmas money.
I didn’t buy anything.
[My sister] bought a hairdryer and some trousers.
I was very annoyed because WHSmith in Loughborough is virtually empty.
That’s the problem: they haven’t restocked yet.
We came back from town on a Trippit, having taken the car in for more repairs.
I was back in time to watch Carry on Camping…

The day wasn’t entirely wasted, then.

I like how I presume to have knowledge of the post-Christmas retail strategy of WHSmiths. Or lack of one.

I was always bemused at how the place used to be almost entirely devoid of stock in the days between Christmas and New Year. Didn’t they understand that was when the greatest number of WHSmith vouchers were aching to be redeemed?

At least the Trippits were running.

Sunday 27 December 1987

…Went to see [other grandparent and uncle who lived near Stratford-upon-Avon].
There was a £20 note waiting for me there.
However before I could get to it, the car broke down.
Well, we thought it might be about to break down.
The oil light kept flashing and we had to call the AA.
We had stopped in a tiny village and had to use a nearby telephone box.
The AA took 70 minutes to get to us!
We had no way of letting the others know we would be late…

OH WHAT A PRIMITIVE WORLD WE LIVED IN. I don’t know why we didn’t use the telephone box to phone my grandmother and tell her about our predicament. Maybe we didn’t have enough change. But in which case we should have knocked on the door of a nearby house because, as I’d recently seen the film Clockwise, a maniacally humorous situation would obviously have ensued.

Saturday 14 November 1987

…I have been really down today.
The fair is in town for one thing, and I never like it.
It causes so much disruption, the roads are in chaos and the rides are terrible.
I have also had a really horrible cold.
This evening we all had to go to this party, which was for a couple who Mum and
Dad knew and who had got married earlier in the day.
It was terrible.
Music, dancing, noise: OUCH…

Adolescence alert!

(Although to be honest, this does seem uncannily like any entry in any of my diaries from any point in the last 25 years.)

Sunday 8 November 1987

…Remembrance Sunday was ruined by the IRA who planted a bomb in Northern Ireland
during a big remembrance service.
On a lighter note, we finished our tour of the Peak District…”

Ouch. What was I thinking? Not much, clearly. And certainly not: “I wonder how this will read in 25 years’ time?”

We’d spent the weekend in Buxton. The word “tour” makes it sound like some motoring holiday or a quasi-regal procession. In fact we’d spent one night in a hotel, had our lunches sitting in the car and our tea in a Little Chef.

It was a bit of novelty going away during term-time, even for one night. This might even have been the first occasion we’d ever done so. I found it incredibly daring and not a little risky. I actually wrote of how relieved I was at seeing the house “intact” on our return. What had I expected to find? That it had blown away?

Saturday 31 October 1987

…Went to Eddie’s house for his birthday party.
We had some chips that I didn’t like, as well as hot dogs and baked beans, then some of his birthday cake for pudding.
We spent most of the time watching a video of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, after which people just sort of messed about until it was time to be picked up.
The whole thing lasted from 5.30pm to 9pm, though I didn’t leave because my
mum was chatting to Eddie’s mum until 9.50pm!…

I’m relieved to find that I did not engage in any kind of Halloween-based carry-on. I’ve never liked Halloween, in part because it involves going up to people and menacing them for money – something I experienced quite enough of over many years in the school playground – and in part because it assumes people enjoy being offered a choice between coercion or punishment.

I don’t really have any childhood memories of marking Halloween at all, aside from primary school time-wasting activities such as making a wizard’s hat. I’m trying to pinpoint the time when it became really big in the UK. I’d like to blame Michael Parkinson.