Thursday 3 December 1987

…In science we looked at magnetism and why things become magnetised when
you do certain things to them – very interesting.
Then in library studies we had to carry on with our plans for a library of the future.
In design we were doing the dreaded fabrics again, but I passed my “driving test”
which means I am now allowed to use one of the school sewing machines.

This all sounds highly dubious to me. How was this “driving test” officiated? Would it have passed scrutiny by Lynn Faulds-Wood? I very much hope it wasn’t just something my school had made up to impress parents.

Needless to say I forgot most of what I learned incredibly quickly, in part because I never sewed another garment for the rest of my time at school, in part because I had more important things to remember.

Tuesday 1 December 1987

…Today was a terrible day.
It was my grade 4 piano exam and it was terribly nerve-wracking.
But I hope, at least I think, it went all right.
I had to sign in and out of school, which was a bit silly as I had to sign out at
9am, having only arrived half an hour or so before.
I signed back in at 9.56am.
I’m really just glad it’s over, because it was now allows me to, as it were,
step into Christmas.
In fact, we discussed our Christmas play in class this morning,
which I am directing…

Looking ahead in my diary, I see that this “play”, such as it was, got one performance in an assembly, and that was it.

Not only was I the director, I was also the writer. It was a loose, free-form kind of play, which ended with everyone being blown up.

I don’t think it had anything to do with Christmas whatsoever.

Nonetheless the rehearsals were quite good fun, and I think it helped ingratiate me with the rest of the class.

As for my piano exam, it is typical of me to dwell more on the time I spent away from school than the contents of the exam itself. The former was something I could be sure of, unlike the latter.

Tuesday 24 November 1987

…The world, or rather the USA and Russia, have agreed to scrap
all medium-range nuclear missiles – hooray!
At last: they took so long about it.
But today they only agreed, and they will sign the contract next month.
In Dance this morning we had to do something about what we wanted to do
when we grew up…

I would have found this task more challenging than the usual dance-based fare thanks to the fact I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. I never had an inkling. Not once during my childhood do I remember ever alighting upon a profession and thinking: yes, that’s the one for me.

Instead used to tell people, rather cockily: “Well, I know what I DON’T want to do…” and sometimes follow this up, were I feeling particularly sardonic, with: “…and that’s be within a hundred miles’ distance of YOU!”

Understandably, this was not received well.

But by now I was defining my life through negatives, rather than positives (thanks, adolescence!), which people who know me now will recognise as a trait still very much in evidence. So I guess in that sense, I had alighted on something that I was going to do when I grew up. I don’t think that would have satisfied my dance teacher, however, so I’m guessing I probably settled for a) miming playing a piano or b) pretending to introduce an edition of Panorama.

Performing his usual humble function

Wednesday 11 November 1987

…I am going to be on television!
The BBC came to school to film bits of the Curriculum Evening,
which is when parents come to see what we get up to during the day.
I had to be the caller during a French bingo session.
I didn’t realise I was going to be on camera – AAAGH!
I wonder when it will be shown…

Never. It was never shown.

Tuesday 10 November 1987

…In Expressive Arts we had to pretend to be witnesses to a house burning down and
act out interviews with the police and journalists…

This was the sort of expressive arts l liked. Not making up dance routines with chairs like Sally Bowles in Cabaret, or doing a percussion workshop that sounded like an explosion in a guiro factory. No, this was proper stuff: role playing and acting and constructive escapism. To use a near-contemporary phrase, it said something to me about my life. Granted, I’d never been in a house fire, but I’d accidentally once set light to a teatowel.