Monday 11 January 1988

…Back to school today.
We got off to a right start this morning by having some homework set: honestly.
It’s called A Winter’s Tale, which the teacher has pinched off William Shakespeare.
We have to make up our own tale, though.
It’s a bit of a lazy idea for some homework.
In PE we were supposed to have our first lesson on all the gym equipment, but
we spent the whole time learning how to get it out and set it up.
We didn’t actually DO anything!

Just the thought of that weird webbed substance on the underside of gym mats still gives me a Proustian shudder. It always seemed to me the least appropriate material to offer protection from sharp falls and high-velocity antics. I could never understand why we were encouraged to climb all the way up ropes attached to the gym walls with just ONE SOLITARY MAT at the bottom for safety.

There was an enormous vault over which we were expected to jump. It’s hard to imagine any other object that could rob as much dignity as possible from both adolescent boys AND girls.

Mini-trampolines were also in evidence, which meant the same went for unsupported body parts on all genders.

This was all getting too much.

Friday 18 December 1987

…Just one week left till Christmas.
And of course, I can hardly wait.
But we don’t finish school until next Tuesday, which is a bit unfair.
Also we have a whole week off after the week which has New Year’s Day in it,
which just seems ridiculous.
There were carols in this morning’s assembly for the first years.
I got to play a keyboard as the accompaniment.
And then I treated myself to chips, sausages and baked beans for lunch,
followed by a glass of milk and a ginger biscuit…

It was round about now that I began to get quite involved in doing music stuff at school. Not just what everyone had to do in music lessons, but additional things. Playing in assemblies. Taking part in school productions. And eventually writing and performing my own stuff.

I was never quite sure what my peers thought of all this. Ghastly showboating? Self-indulgent twaddle? Or just utter disinterest? Out of those three I’d rather it’d been the latter.

Still, along the way I got to turn the Beatles’ Nowhere Man into a chorale for four-part harmony; perform an avant-garde “happening” wherein I fixed a microphone inside a kettle, boiled it, and served tea to an audience; and organise a three-hour outdoor acoustic gig boasting covers of songs by, among others, The Smiths, Tori Amos, Otis Redding and (oops) The Lemonheads.

So I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Monday 14 December 1987

…More flipping limping seagulls.
I brought a book about them into the lesson, which I’d kept from
when we’d studied them primary school.
The teacher spotted this and accused me of cheating.
Ha – he’s got a nerve!
Well, there are quite a few in the human body,
so I suppose that goes without saying…

I like that I use the word “flipping”.

I was incredibly coy about using swearwords in my diary at this point. I still feared my words would one day be found, studied and judged by my parents. This all changed over the next couple of years, until it got to the point when I was more foul-mouthed in print than I ever was in public.

There wasn’t a parity of profanity until I went to university.

Wednesday 9 December 1987

…Got back ache again when we had to do woodwork.
I do not see the point of this.
I am never going to be doing woodwork in my life.
I really hate it and it tires me out.
This afternoon I was trying and failing to get people to rehearse for the play,
which we are performing on Friday…

By this point I was not merely the writer and director of this play, I was also the narrator. It had turned into a day-in-the-life concept, complete with audio gags I found hilarious at the age of 11:”…And then dawn broke [cue sound effect of a glass smashing]…”

But it still ended with everyone being blown up, a conclusion I had decided to realise on stage by sequencing a complete blackout followed by an enormous sound effect of an explosion followed by the lights coming up on everyone lying on the floor pretending to be dead.

Cue Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin’ Stevens. SATIRE!

Monday 7 December 1987

…In Maths we did something a bit different: limping seagulls.
However I’d done this before at primary school so it was all rather boring…

This drew a blank so I had to look it up.

I can imagine this being the sort of thing the teacher would have presented to us as “a bit of fun”, thereby encouraging us to treat it as nothing of the sort.

But I’m surprised it was dumped on us on a Monday and with still a couple of weeks to go until Christmas. It feels very much like a Friday-at-the-end-of-term activity.