Wednesday 1 July 1987

…Another morning at Woodbrook for the induction, and it began with us having
to do some French.
AU REVOIR!
It was actually quite good.
I have learned “Je m’appelle…”
This doesn’t mean “Seems like hell” but “My name is…”
Then we went down to the science labs for some science with Dr Something Or
Other, it sounded a bit like Dr Zopatzo.
The entire subject of the lesson was how a Bunsen Burner works.
Unfortunately then it was time for PE which was boring and afterwards we were
MADE TO HAVE A SHOWER.
Except I “forgot” my towel…

Yes, the tried-and-tested bogus memory lapse. But there was no way, absolutely no way, I was going to go into a communal shower with a load of strangers. It was enough of an ordeal being around them fully-clothed.

Later in the year, when I was at secondary school for real, the post-PE shower was enforced more rigorously. A teacher would patrol the changing room, drawling a little-too-enthusiastically: “Come on boys! What are you, nancies? Drop that towel! I don’t know why you’re shy, I’ve seen it all before!”

He’d also threaten not to return our valuables, which we’d had to hand over before the lesson to his tiresomely unoriginal cry of “Baubles, bangles and beads!” and which he kept in a Tupperware container.

If absolutely everyone had been forced into the showers, and absolutely everyone had shared the indignity and embarrassment, it might have been a little less unbearable. But the cheats cheated, the skivers skived, the bold ones answered back, and the remaining minority of us did what we were told and just felt even worse.

Friday 3 April 1987

…We had an assembly practice.
It turned out terrible.
People didn’t know their lines, [our teacher] told everybody to shout because
he couldn’t hear them, and I was absolutely useless.
The theme of the assembly is ‘Don’t Panic’ – but if anyone is panicking it is us.
Lunch was rice, mixed veg and chicken in lovely gravy, and shortbread with
a cherry on top for pudding.
Edward and Mrs Simpson’s jewels were sold today for staggering prices…

The assembly was the first in which I’d been involved since the humiliation of the previous June. I made sure I did not have such a prominent role this time round, but nevertheless I’d still taken it upon myself to insist upon some gimmicks.

One involved some comedy sound effects, which wasn’t too bad. Another involved a whoopee cushion, which would at least get the infants tittering.

But the third, and I’m holding my head in my hands as I type, was – well, there’s no way of putting this that doesn’t make me look insufferably smug and pompous.

It was a spoof of Panorama.

BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THERE’S NO CHANCE THAT COULD FAIL IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE OF PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILDREN.