Monday 26th November 1984
I got up at 8.00, then Doug, Gaz and I went to school. First was Maths, then History, then Rugby. At 12.00 I had dinner, and when we came in it was French, English, geog then maths.
I came home at 3.40 and started a new Fighting Fantasy, and at 5.00 I had tea. After that I played out, and at 7.00 I watched Harty meets Mcartney.
Then I did homework, and at 8.30 I watched Lame ducks. At 9.00 I saw Laugh? I nearly paid my licence fee and at 9.30 I went to bed.
History! Another freezing Monday morning hunched over our textbooks in Mrs Ansbro’s first floor classroom, Doug and I occupying our usual spots as the gruesome twosome on the desk at the front. After a few lessons discussing the travels of Marco Polo (and the revolutionary mint with a hole that he’d discovered in ancient Cathay), we’d now moved onto…
26.11.84 THE PORTUGUESE EXPLORERS
Prince Henry of Portugal was known as ‘the navigator’. This was because of his interest in the sea and sailing. He lived from 1394 to 1460. Henry had to find a sea route to the East because the arabs had put a tax on all goods coming to the West. So he opened a school of Geography and Navigation at Sagres on the coast of South Portugal.
I wonder if his school also had chewed-up lumps of Wham Bar stuck to the underside of every other chair, and the phrase ‘I SHAGGED EMMA WILCOCK IN A TENT’ engraved with a compass point on the notice board next to the PE changing rooms? I bet it did. That Bartholomew Diaz was a right little bugger when he fell in with the wrong crowd.
And good to see me starting to write my umpteenth Fighting Fantasy book of the year! I had to be well into double figures by this stage, surely? All of my life I’ve been cursed (and blessed, I suppose, in some ways) with a short attention span, and once ideas start to lose their lustre and novelty, I quickly get bored and drift onto the next shiny, new project instead. I must have written hundreds of Chapter Ones over the course of the last 30 years. Terrifyingly, this blog is undoubtedly the most long-running and well-disciplined bit of rampant creativity I’ve ever undertaken!
(I was going to make a joke about BBC expenses there, but I can’t bring myself to do it…)
Oddly enough, having spent the morning studying 15th century history, I fail to mention in my diary the exciting bit of 20th century history that was breaking on this very day. I’m sure the first I knew about it was from watching John Craven’s Newsround, waiting for my fishcakes and chips to arrive on the front room coffee table. ‘Bob Geldof, the singer with the band The Boomtown Rats, has organised an all-star charity single to raise money for the starving people of Ethiopia…’
Yep, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’. I’m got very vivid memories of hearing about this for the first time when I saw footage of Bananarama, Paul Young, Boy George and Sting entering the recording studio to put down their vocals… a riot of HUGE hair, snoods, vibrant lipstick and immovable, sack-like dresses. And that was just Boy George. The song was recorded, mixed and mastered in double-quick time on Sunday 25th November 1984 before being released on Thursday 29th, so the news reports I remember seeing MUST have been broadcast on this day.
Watching that still makes me feel shivery, saddened, incredibly nostalgic and also extraordinarily excited. A bizarre combination of emotions. And at the time, of course, it was an overwhelming experience for an avowed pop kid like me. I remember thinking the song sounded REALLY weird – all bells and drums and decidedly rough around the edges… not at all like the slick, danceable pop that had dominated the charts all year. But I liked it, and Geldof spoke as inspiringly as ever, and I remember feeling – oddly – as th0ught something new and moving and IMPORTANT was very definitely unfolding around me. One of the first times that I remember the TV news speaking to me directly, rather than just being the nasty adult intrusion that frequently put me off my tea.
And then an evening spent watching Russell Harty… who, to me as a 12-year-old, seemed like just another funny man on the telly… but now, watching these old clips, I can appreciate him for the perceptive and warmly witty interviewer he was. A full hour with Paul McCartney, also on splendid form…
I’m guessing Macca will primarily have been plugging his film ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street’, which I think was released around this time. A nice bit of early evening TV anyway, and my Mum will have cooed and aaawed at all those cracking old Beatles clips. Cooo. Aaaawwww.