Wednesday, July 16, 1980

Wednesday July 16th

I didn’t go to school today. Since I had nothing timetabled, and Dad and Andrew were going to Withenkirk, Mum said I could give school a miss. I got up at nine o’clock, and spent the morning doing nothing in particular, except feeling generally at peace with the world.

Dad went to the Bank at eleven-thirty and when he came back, we all set off. Andrew had been kicking himself most of the morning for not setting off to go to see Yorkshire v Kent, and I really didn’t want him to come to Withenkirk. Just before we had set off he had said to me how boring Withenkirk was – I really didn’t want him to come because he had little else to do, it would’ve made the outing seem worthless.

When we arrived in Withenkirk, everything was identical to every time we’ve been in the past. It is a really timeless place – more like the preserved mummy of a village than a living community. The ubiquitous tourists were, as expected, greatly in evidence, lapping up the cheapo-gimmicky shops (“Stuff and Nonsense,” bric-a-brac (!!)), and making Andrew and myself really angry. God I detest them. I’m sure they come to Withenkirk through no real love of the place but through an obligation to its reputation. I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that most people are morons.

We went to a small second-hand book shop opposite the Church, where I bought a book called “Moscow 1979” (1st Ed., 1946), a speculative-fiction story about life in Moscow in the late seventies. Most of the prophecies were completely wrong – according to the two authors the world had already suffered three more wars by 1979 and was awaiting WW6.

We also bought fish and chips for dinner and went back to the car to eat them. I love fish and chips – my idea of sheer heaven Utopia.

After wandering on to a pub (where I had a pint of cider), we traveled to Earnton to look at the railway station. The cider had made my eyes unwilling to focus, and with the heat I felt really drowsy. At Earnton we stopped to look round the station (Winner of the 1977 “Best Preserved Station of the Year” Award) and waited half-an-hour to watch a train pass through. Steam trains are brilliant things, and I really wished that they were still in go nationally as the noisy, smelly, steaming black loco’ trundled slowly past the platform.

When we got home Mum had come back from work. Until tea we watched cricket and I slumped around lethargically after tea, watching television, listening to music in my bedroom and generally just wasting time. I watched a sickening programme at about ten, called “Front-Line.” It was all about a cameraman who worked in Vietnam for eleven years filming the war from the V.C. and South Vietnamese sides. The sequences were bloody horrible – bloody being the operative word. One clip showed a Viet Cong man being executed by a South Vietnamese general. The general raised the pistol to this blokes head and fired. I didn’t want to watch because I had thought his head would’ve exploded into millions of tiny pieces at such close range, but instead the VC just fell onto the floor, a thin jet of blood spurting from the side of his head like a fountain, gushing red all over the place.

They were also sequences showing the horrible, open warfare it all entailed – no cover, just dashing out into the open, and letting fly with every barrel. I would definitely refuse to go and fight in somewhere like Vietnam. The sheer, utter hopelessness – no, sheer terror at being shot at would put the shits up me. War is a stupid thing.

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