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.

Saturday 28 November 1987

…I wish my piano exam would hurry up and be over.
Some really good programmes are starting on the TV soon, including a new series of Yes, Prime Minister, and I won’t be able to enjoy them until the exam has passed away.
I’m also waiting to put up my Christmas decorations but won’t do that until
the exam is over…

This was my grade 4 piano exam, and like last year I had to do it at the local convent. But first I had to have a dry run, and so paid a visit to this establishment today, a Saturday, to try out the piano.

I always hated doing this, even more than the exam itself. For one thing I felt uneasy being in a girls’ school. Second, it was a RELIGIOUS girls’ school. And third, there were pupils having lessons on a Saturday. It all seemed shifty and wrong.

Plus the air inside the building smelled of two of the worst things in the world: incense and skulduggery.

Is it any wonder I pined for the well-crafted hoo-ha of Hacker and Sir Humphrey?

Friday 26 December 1986

…I woke up at 7am and started to read Yes, Prime Minister.
I was so engrossed in it that I didn’t realise Muppet Babies had started.
Shock! Horror!
I only missed about two minutes luckily.
I had a triple breakfast made up of toast, cornflakes and bacon…

The first volume of Jim Hacker’s prime ministerial diaries was one of my main presents this year.

My entry for today tells the reader to find a full list of them “at the back”… but no such inventory exists. As such I can’t go into any further details as to what I received.

It was a bit of an atypical Christmas anyway. One of my grandparents was in hospital in Leicester, and most of the days involved visits, usually with the other grandparent in tow. Hospitals are places that take you out of time – at Christmas even more so. The few balloons and strings of tinsel that were evident inside the wards seemed to just subtract from, not compound, any sense of festive spirit.

I’m not sure how ill my grandparent was. I suspect the severity of his condition was kept from me and my sister. I certainly didn’t pay his circumstances much heed in today’s entry. Second only to my concern about Muppet Babies was getting back home in time to see Michael Crawford in Barnum.