Monday, October 20, 1980

Monday, October 20th

Mr Ingham forgot about our history test on the Dumas first period so we had two periods free as normal. I really quite enjoyed today socially; everything seemed to go right for once.

In History we were discussing Stolypin’s agrarian reforms between 1911-14, and how he tried to create a class of landed peasantry to stave off revolution. The mess which Russia was in before the War was amazing – it seems to me that what happened was the only way out of the tangle – things were too complicated and involved to resolve peacefully.

Biology was another inept display from Wade; she ended up waffling on about bridges, the Eiffel Tower and giraffes when she was supposed to be telling us about bone cell structure. In her lessons we never get a thing done and I suppose that is why I prefer History so much. At least Ingham is a good teacher.

The Debating Society after school was debating unilateral nuclear disarmament for Britain. Proposing the motion was a little third year lad, Stephen Bottomley, with a squeaky voice. He was hilarious because his speech was approximately 60 seconds long and consisted of a plea to save our “hospitals, newspapers, roads . . .” etc.; all read out at a painfully slow speed. He kept referring to “nuclear disarminate” so that Beaumont and I could hardly do a thing for laughing. There was the usual emotive tirade from Scott which I bet swung a lot of votes. The vote went; votes for: 10; votes against: 3; abstentions 2. I voted for, as did Deborah Blakey, Michelle Cliff and Robin Quinn, while Beaumont and Bates finally abstained. So much for me being the big Lepidus. Next weeks motion is about private medicine. I enjoy debating society so much that beforehand my legs are actually trembling with excitement (sounds absolutely ludicrous I know but it’s true).

I set off for the EAS at 6.15 p.m. after spending the time talking to Robert and Carol, who went for a walk down by the canal today. Apparently they saw a Kingfisher down there, and now Robert is going to get up at six tomorrow morning to go bird-watching.

The weather on the way there was horrible again – fog this time and drizzle and cold – so I wore my big great-coat for the first time. Jack Greaves gave a talk on the latest Salyut 6 flights, communication satellites and women in the space programmes. It was illustrated with slides and I found part two especially dull. I remember saying once about EAS in my journal that I was concerned with feelings of “inadequacy” while there – well tonight I just couldn’t care less. I sat there, bored by the lecture and wondering why I find astronomy/spaceflight so unstimulating now. I suppose there is a limit to what can be learnt from books and I’ve just become saturated with the subject. Peter Garth announced that the Society’s fiscal year for 1979-80 had turned out at a £22 loss so the subscriptions are going up from £3 to £4 next year – it’s still only 16p a meeting. I bought a back issue of “Arcturus” (in which, I later found, was an anagram of my name being used in a competition) and borrowed two issues of “Sky and Telescope.”

When I came back, we discussed things instead of watching television – Mum said to R. & C. that I was an “anarchist” and anti-monarchist. The latter’s truer than the former. I was quite surprised to learn that Robert is pro-monarchist, especially since I’ve always regarded him as somewhat socialistic.

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