Friday 28 August 1987

…The car went in for its MOT.
Well of course, money will have to be paid out, it’s a fact of human nature.
Mum took it in this morning then came back here on a Trippit.
The phone rang three times in succession while she was out – turned out to be the
garage wondering where she was.
She bought me a Whizzer and Chips Monthly and also a magazine about the
World Athletics Championships which start tomorrow.
Watched a film called The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu starring Peter Sellers
while having a snackette…

“Snackette”? I don’t think the 11-year-old me was consciously using palare… or maybe I was?

A Trippit, however, was not gay slang, but the name of the first bus service to run in Loughborough after deregulation.

This inappropriately-cute title adorned a fleet of glorified minibuses that served half a dozen key routes in and out of the town centre. Another “novelty” was the ability to hail a Trippit anywhere you liked along a designated stretch of road, and not just at a bus stop. This particular feature did not survive for very long – almost as long as the Trippits themselves, who were, inevitably, soon taken over by a larger company, who themselves were then taken over by a larger company, and so on and on until the present arrangement, with most of Loughborough’s buses now owned quite possibly by Angela Merkel.

Still, at least they’re back in the public sector. Shame it’s not the UK’s.

Tuesday 25 August 1987

…A day trip to, of all places, Alton Towers.
We got there just as I was about to deposit my breakfast in the form of a green
queasy mess into the margarine tub we always keep in the car.
To get to the entrance of Alton Towers you are meant to ride on the monorail.
It had only just been built, or so they said, because it looked as though they hadn’t
got round to finishing it yet.
Once inside we went on the Skyride cable car, went Round the World in 80 Days,
watched some dancing fountains and had lunch in the gardens.
The Adventure Land was a bit of fun, but we got soaked by a giant fountain.
We also went in the gift shop, to some place called Fantasy World,
to Kiddies Kingdom, to Cine 2000 which was terrifying and made me want to be
sick again, and finally we went round a lake on an electric-powered swan.
Despite all this we got back home at 6.30pm…

God knows whose idea this was. I’d be surprised if it was mine.

For many years the margarine tubs were permanently in the car. There were two of them: one for me, one for my sister. Mine saw the most use. I’ve never been tolerant of long car journeys. Any other form of transport, including coaches, seems to be fine. Cars, however, can leave me queasy after just a couple of minutes on a country road.

Such was my parents’ reluctance to break journeys for me to have a good retch, I would sometimes sit for ages with the tub under my chin, ready to catch the first convulsion. Only when I was actually sick did they stop and let me out for some air, while they made sure the tub was emptied, cleaned and returned to the car ready for the next time.

And there usually was a next time.

This was my one and only visit to Alton Towers. The two things that I most enjoyed about the place were the free map, which I remember being very colourful and amusingly-illustrated, and the swan-boat, which was nice and peaceful.

Its lasting legacy on my life has been my reluctance to ever set foot inside an IMAX cinema.

Friday 10 July 1987

…Everyone except me was packing for tomorrow, and it was one of those days when it was best to keep out of the way because even if you picked up or touched something in one of Mum and Dad’s thousands of cases one of them would shout: “Don’t touch that you idiot, I’ve put that in a very special place for a reason,” even though the thing was just lying there in a crumpled heap on top of some clothes.
I am the only one packing tomorrow, because I don’t mind getting up early…

Like last year, I didn’t take my normal diary on holiday with me, instead keeping a separate journal in a notebook. Like last year, this notebook no longer exists.

So also like last year, this blog will therefore be going on holiday, until the 11-year-old me returns from Devon and picks up his usual, non-travelling pen once again.

Monday 1 June 1987

…I didn’t go to school today.
Nobody did.
That was because the whole school was going on a trip to Tissington
in Derbyshire to see the dressed wells.
We left in coaches at 9.30am and were there at 10.40am.
Dressed wells – hmm.
The only nice thing was the water coming out of them.
Then everybody was supposed to go on a walk, but I had a nose bleed.
I was told I had to stay with the infants and watch them on the swings.
I felt useless.
I then had to travel back on the coach with them, instead of with my own class.
One of the infants was sick.
A whole yoghurt came up.
Of course my nose bleed had stopped the minute my class went off on its walk.
What an educational day out….

Although not quite as mortifying as a trip to, say, a box factory, a visit to see some wells can’t have counted as one of the highlights of the school year.

The ancient pagan tradition for dressing wells with flowers and other decorations apparently originated in Tissington. I don’t think anybody in our class, myself included, were old enough to appreciate the history and artistry on display. Clearly the infants weren’t. One of them made their feelings very clear on the return journey*.

What a day to get another nose bleed.

*No manners, but what a critic.

Saturday 23 May 1987

This afternoon me and Dad were going to buy some more plants for the pond.
We were on our way to Birstall from Loughborough, and were at the bottom of a
hill waiting at some traffic lights which were on red.
Suddenly this mad lady driving an orange van came whizzing over the hill and
crashed into the back of us.
It was like something off a Carry On film.
The stupid lady got out and began shouting at us
but she will be forced to pay the damage.

I like how my frame of reference isn’t something like The Dukes of Hazzard, The A Team or even a Bond film, but the Carry Ons.

An approach that continues to this day.