Tuesday 30th October 1984
Got up at 8.00, and at 8.30 Doug came and we went to school. First was English, then an RE test. Then it was ‘to the library’, and after that we had Drama (I was a designer on a spaceship)
At 12.00 I had dinner, then it was French and Maths. Last was HE and I made some cakes and got 8.5. At 3.40 I came home and at 4.30 Doug came and we did maths. At 5.00 he went and I had tea, and at 5.10 I watched Star Trek.
At 6.30 Doug came and we went to youth club and played Basketball. I came home at 9.00 and at 10.00 I went to bed.
Wonder why I put ‘to the library’ in dramatic quotation marks like that? It wasn’t an exciting one-off event, we went ‘to the library’ for our second English lesson of the morning EVERY Tuesday. I can only assume it had become a strange, surreal catchphrase for our form class as we tramped through the upstairs corridors of Block 1, past the History classrooms with a diagram of Mr Richardson’s North-West Passage on the door. ‘To the library!’ we cried, ‘TO THE LIBRARY!!!’
Or maybe I was just having a crap-at-grammar day and slipping them in willy-nilly. Who can say? Or, indeed, ‘who can say?’
Anyway, by this point in the school year I was reading The White Mountains, the first book of John Christopher’s brilliant Tripods trilogy. Our library lessons were very much reserved for ‘quiet reading’, and we had 35 minutes to gently peruse the childrens’ fiction sections while discreetly prodding each other with protractors.
I remember Ian ‘Griff’ Griffiths sitting next to me during one of these lessons and casting doubt upon my reading abilities. ‘No WAY are you reading that book as quickly as that…’ he grinned, as I turned over my second page in the space of 60 seconds. ‘I am so,’ I hissed. ‘I can read a full paperback in less than an hour’.
I was, of course, lying through my teeth… I was just flicking ahead to see if one of the dead exciting bits I remembered from the Tripods TV series was coming up in the next few pages. Yep, for all my literary pretensions, ALL of this was inspired by contemporay Saturday evening telly, with BBC1’s ripping adaptation of The Tripods still going strong on dark, Autumnal tea-times. Once I’d finished the book (an hour later), I scoured the library shelves in vain for a hardback copy of John Masefield’s ‘Late Late Breakfast Show Chronicles’…
My stint on the drama spaceship was an on-running saga, with Mr Harrison running a weekly Star Trek-inspired improv workshop (how VERY mid-1980s! Was it Alexei Sayle that said nobody should be allowed to use the word ‘workshop’ unless they’re wearing dirty overalls and carrying an oily toolbox?) in which the entire Class of 1CW were manning an expedition to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.
My character was Mr A Weirdo (cringe) and I was the ship’s onboard designer, responsible for creating revolutionary new hyperdrive propulsion systems and advanced versions of Jet Set Willy for the ship’s hyper-intelligent ZX Spectrum emulator. Bizarrely, one of our lessons during this time revolved around a pan-galactic dance sequence to one of Mr Harrison’s favourite tracks… ‘Violence’ by Mott The Hoople…
He wanted us to CREATE OUR OWN DANCE ROUTINES to a track called ‘VIOLENCE’??? With STEPHEN MASON in the class???!! Was he mad? I think the Accident and Emergency Department of North Tees Hospital were still ringing around for extra staff at the end of Home Economics.
(The cakes were the classic school rock cakes, by the way… filled with mouldy raisins and with a density rivalling that of the planet Mercury. In fact, as I removed the largest of my concoctions from our clanking gas oven, it drew three of Alexandra Bennett’s fairy cakes into permanent geo-stationary orbit around it. My parents ate them through gritted teeth as we watched the end of Star Trek. Well, what teeth they had left by the time they’d finished…)
And did I really go to Youth Club to play BASKETBALL? I couldn’t stand playing basketball in our official PE lessons, so it’s hard to imagine why I’d devote my own spare time to such fripperies when I could have been dancing like a lemon to Frankie Goes To Hollywood and flicking Space Dust over Debbie Jarvis’ highlights.
Unless, of course, Debbie Jarvis was playing as well…