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.

Saturday 10 October 1987

…We had to go on a family outing to Bradford to meet some people who Mum
knew when she was at university.
It rained almost non-stop the entire day.
On the way up we stopped at Holmfirth,
which is where they film Last of the Summer Wine.
There was a rather small exhibition of pictures from various episodes.
In the pouring rain we found Nora Batty’s house and also the Cafe.
There was nobody else around at all.
When we got to Bradford I spent most of the time in the house
playing with Ceefax and Teletext…

…neither of which we had at home. Neither of which I NEVER had at home, and only discovered properly in my second year at university, when one of my housemates had a television that had both.

Holmfirth wasn’t quite the tourist attraction in 1987 that I suspect it is now. I’m being rather generous with my use of the word “exhibition”. It was more like a dozen or so polaroids stuck to the inside of a window using Blu-tack. Then again, this was during The Seymour Utterthwaite Insurgency.

Saturday 12 September 1987

…Went to the open day at Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station.
It wasn’t the case that we could wander around anywhere.
We were given a guided tour, and had to troop in and out of cooling towers,
chimneys and turbine engines.
Well not literally through turbine engines, or we’d be like sausage meat going
through a mincer.
It was very very hot – you could have brought along a sunbed and could have
been in heaven next to the furnace.
The best place was the control room, as it was clean and cool and QUIET…

I remember well the relief at stepping from the noisy, dirty, indecently-hot turbine room into the blissfully peaceful control centre, full of gleaming panels with small lights winking silently. I was particularly smitten with the giant map of the National Grid that covered an entire wall.

This was before the industry got privatised, so the open day was organised by the wonderfully-named Central Electricity Generating Board. I do miss these proudly-titled organisations. They made the country feel reassuringly co-ordinated – to a naive 11-year-old, at least.

Besides, who wouldn’t want to work in a place that looked like this?

Board almighty

Monday 31 August 1987 (Bank Holiday)

…Today, as you might have guessed, was a Bank Holiday.
I am getting more and more nervous as there is only one day left until I start at
Woodbrook – one single 24-hour day until I have to face the terrors of a new school.
There was a treat in store this afternoon, however, when we went to Beaumont
Leys Swimming Centre.
I’ve been there before, but still enjoyed the water chutes, the slides, the wave
machines and the fountains.
But why no Bond films, even though it was a Bank Holiday?

I’ve certainly got my priorities right here. Less verruca plasters, more bazooka masters!