Thursday, April 30, 1981


After much hassle at the end of school, we finally managed to sort out the soccer kits with Farrar. We'd wanted the green and white strip but it was so hopelessly ripped it was unwearable. We had to make do with a shabby maroon kit instead. I got a lift from Dad to Brady Park, near Morningside Middle School. I was quite nervous and the weather was really foul and dismal.

We got a shock when we saw the other teams, who were all really powerful, professional looking lads, and so we felt completely outclassed from the word go. We got changed and all the teams walked up to the the playing-fields and the big all-weather soccer pitch. Our first opponents, playing in red and white stripes, were ace, and we were completely overrun, humiliated and thoroughly pissed upon. We were absolutely crap, and it was embarrassing. Final score: 6-0. The second match was even worse, and there were even jeers from the shed nearby as the other teams pulled us to bits. 5-0! Our last match turned out to be our best. We played Haslam Juniors and we only lost 2-0; we even mounted a couple of decent attacks.

Hope for the future?

Wednesday, April 29, 1981


I trudged down to Topshop, and although the bloke was pretty friendly, he said that no, the job had gone.

I got back to school and found everyone talking in the library; Claire seemed to be laughing a lot. Why am I so boring? Hirst gave us journals and said we can write any thoughts/feelings about the books we read, which could be quite interesting if it's done sincerely and thoughtfully. I stayed behind to borrow football kits from Farrar for the three matches we have in tomorrow’s six-a-side.

Watched England 0-0 Romania: a pathetic, boring game.

Tuesday, April 28, 1981

"Physical emanation of light"

In History we're in to the post-Stalin era, Kruschev, etc. In period 4, I had “running” to do, and had to sit in M1 during a Music exam, so I read Lunacharsky’s Revolutionary Silhouettes. He seems interesting, especially his ‘Proletkult’ thing. Last lesson I was all alone so I carried on reading (amazed to read L’s description of the “physical emanation of light” from Lenin’s skin). After school I trukked down to Topshop to see about this job, but the manager was out, so I had a wasted journey.

In the evening, I was just preparing to do my essay for Slicer when the ‘phone rang. It was Jeremy. Ninety-five minutes later I finally sat down again, after tittle-tattling about things so absolutely trivial it’s embarrassing. I felt almost ashamed afterwards I finally finished my essay late. Andrew rang: Denmark on, jazz-festival off!

Monday, April 27, 1981


Back to school again in bright sun and a big thaw, and when I got in I was in a good mood. As soon as I got in, Claire said, “Sorry I didn’t ring….” After Assembly I saw her again in the library;  everyone was sweating away over History revision for the test periods three and four, which ended up going OK. I could answer two of the three required questions on the Provisional Government and events of 1905 quite easily, and the third (about the origins of the Great Terror of 1936-8) I ended up feeling quite proud about after I'd ranted on about Rosa Luxemburg. During the last period Claire let slip about me going down there over the hols, saying, “I was expecting you to ring up for something else.” Does she think I was using a lame excuse to go down there? This preyed on my neurotic paranoid mind.

A superb sunset and I listened to Moonflower; Art to be done, but . . .? Grant rang and told me the holiday is all booked and paid for. Sean Barker came around teatime to tell me about a Saturday job at Topshop in Royden.

Sunday, April 26, 1981


I felt strangely content and spent most of the day ‘revising’, which was really an excuse for sitting at the dining room table surrounded by books, paper, typewriter and outstanding work doing absolutely nothing. Andrew has gone, so the house slips back into the old routine.

In the evening I typed up several History essay plans as a way of memorising them before watching Gore Vidal on The South Bank Show talking about his book Creation. He seems a kind of quiet, intelligent man, and I really want to read that book. He said we really are a “programmed” species and that our actions and thoughts are just echoes of those of our ancestors; there is no beginning and no end to anything, just a continuous birth and death. We are here for a fleeting moment and then we vanish forever. As he said; “it’s a chilling thought.”

That set Dad and I off; and we had a long discussion about laws, morals, Governments, and inevitably swung back to my old favourite, communism. Dad is such a perfect example of the “working class mentality,” perfectly happy with our current situation, his position and all the inequalities. I tried to explain my views but he light-heartedly brushed them off, laughingly making pathetic comments about communism and naturally assuming that all communist thought is structured along Soviet lines. For instance: “They use that system of democracy, then they overthrow it.” The Russians do, true, but ‘actual’ communism (naieve communism?) would replace democracy with an almost Utopian system. He can't see beyond the end of his introspective, typically conservative, “I-love-the-British-way-of-life” nose.

This made me think about democracy as a whole and the way people make ‘decisions’ based on superficial and moronic criteria regarding themselves and crucial social issues  – male chauvinists deliberately not voting for a woman etc. –  and this is so pathetic and senseless that I always end up thinking fascist things like disenfranchising the masses and only allowing them the vote when they have enough sense and responsibility to cope with it. How can football thugs make decisions which will help themselves? Until they ‘know’ what they are doing, meaningfully and in the long term, they would perhaps be better ‘nursed’, like children. It’s all a case of education, bringing them up in the ‘correct’ way.

Saturday, April 25, 1981

El Dorado

I had a stiff neck, headache and my ears were still ringing when I woke up; I can see why Angela passed out at one of their concerts! Maybe I could write something for the mag’?

The snow is thicker than ever. I agreed to stand in for Grant at his Saturday job at the El Dorado Coffee Lounge and Grill Bar on Bentley Street. I didn't really want to go, but dutifully set off at nine fifteen. I got there early; it's small (just 20 tables), reasonably seedy, and informal. The three owners are Italians: a young, thin Che Guevara lookalike; Tony, the older one smaller and Asian looking, with a large moustache and thick hair, the crotch of his trousers level with his knees; and a young plump woman with black, frizzy hair and a nice face.

I immediately felt really awkward and out of place, and I didn't know what to do, but gradually things got easier and eventually I started to quite enjoy it. I was waiting tables, but most people must’ve stayed away because of the snow and the hectic conditions outside, and for long periods I had nothing to do. I sat about, waiting. I made the occasional mistake and delivered the wrong meal to the wrong table, which was mainly because of Che’s pidgin English; most of the time it made him really hard to understand. It got really busy at twelve, but the rush died away by two, only to build up again around four. I ended up being bored, and after mopping up and cleaning out I got out at seven. Tony (low-crotch) gave me £7. Seven pounds, just for one day's imbecile work! It’d make all the books, records, clothes so much easier! I wish I could get a job!

Materialistic swine.

Friday, April 24, 1981

Crass, Poison Girls

I woke up to heavy, winter like snow. Incredible; it was snowing heavily and the whole garden was blanketed white. Mum woke me up at eight as I wanted to go down to Pilkington’s to try for the job there that Dad told me about yesterday, so I trudged down, cold, wet and pretty miserable, to be greeted with a “sorry, it’s just been filled.” I got my hair cut on the way back, the enormous snow flakes floating thickly down.

I spent the rest of the day in a good mood; I read and made notes and generally messed about. In the afternoon I wrote a letter to the Echo in response to someone criticising the money spent on the space programme v. the starving millions in Africa, etc. . . . I was once again fired up with enthusiasm for Russian revolutionary history and politics.

In the afternoon, Dad gave me a lift on to Grant’s and, after we’d had some sandwiches, we called round for one of his friends and fellow Movable Mutant Consultant artiste Nik, who was dressed all in black with a yellow CND T-shirt underneath his jumper and a red scarf tied round his wrist. I felt conspicuously normal. We got down to Lesser Trade Hall, outside which there were at least fifty Crass fans, predictably attired in green/red/khaki trousers, Doc Marten boots, and various ripped T-shirts / jackets. Several pretty amazing hair-dos on display, especially among the girls, and since it was only 6.30 we had a coffee in The Khyber.

Supposedly the concert started at seven, but at nine we were still there, and a lot of people seemed to have gone home. We were subjected to constant surveillance by the police who had dogs and several cars. Pathetic. We got in a few minutes later. Lesser Trade Hall is just a single large hall with balconies overlooking the stage. I reckon there were several hundred people there; a film showing various interrelated images of war and nuclear weapons was being projected onto the wall above the stage. The first group was Poison Girls, a four piece with a female lead vocalist. lots of pretty heavy drumming and screeching distorted guitars with the singer and the two guitarists screaming; I can't say I liked it but I could at least appreciate some of it. Grant's 'dancing' seemed badly coordinated and he hopped about, shaking his head; I saw several people laughing at him, but he and Nik went on leaping around throughout while I remained statuesque and immovable.

Crass consisted of five members (one woman) and I didn’t like them as much as I had the Poison Girls. They were incredibly loud and their sound consisted for the most part of a billion decibels-worth of fuzzy, indistinct guitar, ear piercing distortions and indecipherable vocals. Everyone at the front went wild, pogo-ing about and leaping up and down frantically; it was amazing to witness, but I was relieved when finally, at about ten past midnight, everything wound up.

My ears were ringing and I was almost deaf as we walked into town to find a taxi.

Thursday, April 23, 1981


I woke up to snow on ground and made stuttering attempts at History revision all day. . . . In the evening, as I ploughed through Lenin and the Bolsheviks, I was yet again seized by enthusiasm for history and politics, an enthusiasm which makes me want to read everything in sight, but doesn’t seem to last very long.

During Question Time we all got involved in a big debate that swung from N. Ireland to W. Indians to education and lack of parental guidance in general and ended up with a discussion about government. I argued that everyone should participate as citizens like they did (relatively speaking) in the city-states of Greece in the 5th century B.C. Dad said that, “You’ve got to have governments! Its physically impossible for everyone to get involved!” I launched into a spiel about how governments act like they're autonomous, unrepresentative bodies, and do things for their own interests. Power should flow up, not down. If things were more devolved and decentralised, people would be enthusiastic and could then be shown that politics is about everyday life, not some depersonalised decision made in some remote, unrelated place. Look how fervent people get about local council decisions like rates, pensions, and roads! If that body directly governed them, was more answerable to them and was them, in effect, with everyone taking a hand, there's be more personal freedom and local problems could be solved more quickly. Instead, political decisions fail to take into account unique local circumstances.

I suppose Andrew’s right when he calls me naïve. But what other way is there? By this time I was trembling violently and restlessly moving about, all with excitement I suppose. I hate apathy. "One should understand the reasons for inequality. And in order to understand, one must above all read and read" (Lenin).

Tomorrow I'm going with Grant Riley and his mate to see Crass and Poison Girls at the Lesser Trade Hall in Easterby.

Wednesday, April 22, 1981

False, somehow

Dad woke me at eight, and by nine I was up and writing stuff for the assembly, feeling particularly industrious for some reason. By ten-thirty I'd completed two-and-a-half A4 sides.

When Mum went for her driving lesson I reluctantly went to Jeremy’s. We spent most of the afternoon in his bedroom talking and typing down ideas for this Nationwide thing we've been talking about, but it all felt very subdued and false somehow. Enjoyable, I suppose. He had to leave to rehearse Murder in The Cathedral and when I got back it was teatime, and Andrew was home. He told me about a four-day jazz festival in London in late-July with Weather Report, Chick Corea, Art Pepper, Morrissey Mullen Band, Ronnie Scott etc., and we made tentative arrangements to go for two days.

In the evening I watched Liverpool draw 1-1 with Bayern Munich in the second leg of their European Cup semi-final; they got through on away goals. Ipswich are also through to the UEFA final after beating F.C. Cologne 1-0.

Tuesday, April 21, 1981


I felt the same as yesterday, and when Mum and Dad came back at three, full of tales of their visit yesterday to Chatsworth House, I felt worse. Jeremy rang at about four-ish and we were “title-tattling” (as Mum put it) for half-an-hour, talking about other people, etc. I arranged to go across to his house tomorrow. He said I oozed an air of superiority (“everyone comments on it”), which didn’t do my ego any good. I worry too much over little things!

Strangely enough, I was in a good mood all evening.

Monday, April 20, 1981


Mum said I looked fed up and depressed yesterday: “the day before you looked on top of the world." We were supposed to be going to Robert’s but I just didn’t want to, and I suppose it was quite obvious why. The weather made me feel even worse, bright and sunny, just like Saturday. I desperately tried to think up an excuse. Mum and Dad didn’t want to go either.

I eventually stayed at home by myself; I felt really weird, a combination of boredom, frustration and desperate hope. I longed for the ‘phone to ring. It didn’t. So I stood in the kitchen doorway listening to the sounds of a sunny day, thinking 'Here I go again, wallowing in pointless self-pity'. The sunny evening made it worse, and I really wished I could go somewhere, with someone.

Dad rang at half-six to tell me he and Mum are staying over at Robert's. I feel rotten; lonely and hemmed in.

Sunday, April 19, 1981


I was really disappointed to be greeted by leaden, miserable skies on waking. Curtains for our boating.

Mum and Dad went hiking and had gone out when I got up; I sat miserably around in the dining room, half-hoping to hear the ‘phone ring, but it didn’t of course. At two so I set off for Cardigan Park and the football. Robert didn’t show up so I stood alone, absolutely freezing to death. Hydebridge scored early on and made it two with a good shot which Ackroyd could only palm into the net. Pattison missed a penalty. The second half was just as poor; Pattison missed another open goal with the goalkeeper lying on the ground. I was cold and bored and I left ten minutes before the end.

All evening I've been wallowing in rose-coloured reflections about yesterday. I’m so pathetic for doing all the things I expressed amazement at Michael B. for doing. Hypocrite.

Saturday, April 18, 1981

Man & Woman

I got up at nine and sat about with growing butterflies until about half twelve, when I set off for Claire's. I walked down there deliberately slowly, trying to put my nerves into perspective.

I rang the bell and she met me in the hall. She showed me all these Man and Woman encyclopedias and talked about ideas for an assembly, and I felt slightly uneasy, and gradually it seemed as if I was going to leave. But I was reluctant to move and hung around and eventually plucked up enough courage to ask her if she fancied going for a walk.

At first she seemed to stall, and complained about her hair, but soon we were out in Burgoyne's Park, walking together through the sun. She told me all about Michael, about how they’re “finished,” about how he got depressed over the slightest thing she did, and she really was quite down on him. She wants to leave school, get a job for 6 months and do teacher training at Whincliffe College. We were going to go boating but her dog had followed us so we didn’t, and there were huge queues anyway, so once more we sauntered up a bridle path and on to Moxthorpe Common, which was incredibly busy. It was really warm and still and we talked about all sorts of things. I stayed until eight, when I felt I really ought to go; I might go tomorrow to go boating and maybe even on Monday to see a film. She was open and friendly with me and I really enjoyed myself. She walked up Moxthorpe Rd. with me and I said goodbye.

Lots of leg-pulling from Mum and Dad when I got home; they knew who I was with and where even though I’d never told them a thing. Am I so predictable?

Friday, April 17, 1981


I’m so stupid it’s incredible. I intended ringing up Claire about my History notes which she has, but from eleven until about six I sat about listening to records or the radio and worrying myself sick over it. Why, I don’t know but I’m just terrified that somehow she’ll see it as a blatant excuse for going down there (which it is but isn’t also). So, I’ve spent the best part of this afternoon torn with anxiety, doubt and indecision, all over one bloody phone call! I’m so neurotic. Finally, after standing about in the hallway for ages, I plucked up courage and dialed. Christ am I pathetic. I rang off after arranging to go down tomorrow afternoon and I felt like dying; I wanted to go hide. It’s so irrational!

Andrew went to Robert’s today and Mum and Dad brought Nanna P back after going shopping. She was was in fine form, and her relentless diatribe droned on much of the afternoon. Dad brought home a copy of The Spectator, which seems pretty impartial.

Thursday, April 16, 1981


At one I went to Lee’s. It was another incredibly hot day.

Five of us booted a ball around on the playing fields before Steven Holdsworth, Kevin Dunville and co (all ex- Lodgehill Middle) turned up and asked us if we wanted a game. We played five-a-side and soon discovered they are really good, Steven Holdsworth especially; he's fast and pretty hard and in no time at all we were 4-1 down, then 4-2, then 5-2 and so on, until after half an hour we trailed 10-6. Then everyone gradually wandered off and I sauntered home and read the latest issue of Spaceflight about Salyut 6/Soyuz 29-37 or watched TV.

Totally cloudless sunset.

Wednesday, April 15, 1981


I set off to Grant's before one. It was a superbly warm and sunny day, and I took along Charles Mingus for him to hear and, after we'd listened to this for a while, we decided to go into Easterby. We got a lift from his Dad, and on the way I listened to them discussing a recent gig by his band Movable Mutant Consultant, or MMC as he prefers.

We sauntered down to Praxis and I bought Lenin’s April Theses and Peter Kropotkin and his Federalist Ideas. Praxis is full of books I’ve never seen anywhere else; the three volume Deutscher biography of Trotsky; most of his and Lenin’s writings; Bukharin, Gramsci, Milliband etc. . . . But they’re all so expensive and I’m so destitute! I also bought The Socialist Standard and we left (good pun, eh?) to visit a second hand clothes shop up near the Polytechnic, and then on to Smith’s and HMV. We walked back to Grant's.

Sandwiches and tea on our return and Grant poured forth on his hatred of image seeking, artificiality, mundanity and, above all it seems, apathy. Apathy rules! We finally seem to be getting things worked out about this holiday; I saw the list (which his Mum has doubtless drawn up) and we’ll be visiting eight hostels in all at a cost of £26.25; it's £44.65 if we include an evening meal at each. I’m really looking forward to it, and Mum’s agreed to pay for my travel and accommodation. I left at about eight and walked home through the woods, the sun turning from searing orange to a dull scarlet as it sank. It was really hot and reminded me once more of summer, even more so with the sprouting leaves.

Tuesday, April 14, 1981


I set off for Jeremy’s at ten or so and walked all the way, up Haley Hill Road to his house. His Mum was in but left shortly after to go lambing near Burnley; I talked to her a bit, and she was nice. She's from Southampton. Jeremy’s older brother was there as well, and I like him too. He went to work at one and Jeremy and I were left to our own devices. We wandered up to the tennis courts, which were closed, and so spent the rest of the afternoon typing a thing up about Duncan, supposedly from the Libraries Dept of Easterby Council about “personnel selection techniques”; quite funny.

In the evening we switched on the Beeb's Shuttle coverage; amazing film of the Orbiter approach through an Air Force telescope, a white speck that grew into a triangular blur and eventually a white and gleaming space ship; perfect. One last bank and it touched down, Young counting down the feet. I was really pleased. Jeremy bought us fish and chips and I walked home at nine-fifteen. Tense house when I got back, general aggro and short tempers.

Monday, April 13, 1981


Dreams galore once more, with predictable subject matter, featuring a certain person who lives not a million miles away. I got up just after eight-thirty and Dad gave me a lift into Easterby. I bought four papers for their Shuttle coverage, which was predictably repetitive, and then trekked over to the Library to take back my books. I took out five books: Revolutionary Silhouettes by Lunacharsky; Theories of Revolution: An Introduction by Cohan; Year One of the Russian Revolution by Victor Serge; Miller’s A View From the Bridge (because of its critical notes) and finally, a book for Dad on Lord Raglan and the Crimean War.  After lamenting my moneyless circumstances in HMV, I read Cohan’s book for a while when I got back.

I waited eagerly for teatime and Shuttle news, and sure enough, there was a view of the blue, cloud-speckled earth through the Shuttle windows. More film on the late evening news, Young with spec’s on reading checklists, talking with Bush, and both men doing the obligatory acrobatics. The interior of “Columbia” looked like a cross between Skylab and an airliner cockpit. I watched Horizon (about Saturn) and the Argentinian Grand Prix and came to bed.

I read and heard news about Brixton and the riots throughout the day; on reflection, my thoughts are pretty unfair and narrow-minded regarding the "over-reaction" of people who live with high unemployment in a rundown area, suffering constant police activity, and with little hope in sight. What gets me really though is reading shitty comments from Eldon Griffiths blaming the violence on “Marxist agitators” who follow Lenin’s maxim of smashing the police “to bits." This is a very un-Leninist phrase to me.

Sunday, April 12, 1981


When Andrew and I got up, Mum and Dad had already gone on a hike, so Andrew made us both an omelet and chips and we settled down in front of the box to wait for the Shuttle launch at one. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, the Shuttle gleaming white on pad 39A, and Kieran Prendiville explaining that the mood had changed from Friday's carnival to one of expectant seriousness. Around a million people were there, all tense and praying.

The minutes passed, and Launch Control began to announce the passage of every 15 seconds or so. . . . The tension was incredible; both Andrew and I could feel it. Michael Rodd said he had his fingers crossed; so did I. Then, a few seconds before launch, the engines sparked into life, blasting yellow, blue, and were lost behind billowing clouds of smoke and steam. When the solid rocket boosters lit up a huge pall of steam billowed across from the stack, and within seconds the three-pronged Shuttle climbed into the sky. Even via the television, the noise was incredible, and as it blasted upwards the whole stack rotated and we could see the Orbiter sitting  there on the big external tank; an incredible bit of coverage. I felt absolutely jubilant. Superb! Ace!! Brilliant!!! I never thought I’d ever see it blasting skywards on top of its yellow plumes of flame. At three-forty-five the BBC gave its first Shuttle update, with the first film from space that showed half-a-dozen tiles missing from both engine pods. Not serious but still a bit worrying. Both crew in good shape. When Mum and Dad got back they were predictably uninterested, although Mum did know quite a bit about it, unlike Dad, who didn’t even know that it was manned!

In the evening we watched a production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible which was really good. Jeremy rang at nine and I arranged to go down to his house on Tuesday at eleven. There's been a second night of rioting in Brixton; the area looks as if it’s been blitzed.

Saturday, April 11, 1981


I had yet another vivid dream; I’ve been having loads just lately. By the time I got downstairs everything was quiet. Dad was at work and Mum was doing the washing.

Andrew and I set off for the match at two and found Robert waiting for us down in the Shed. The crowd was pretty crummy and so, for much of the game, the tomb-like atmosphere was only broken by the shouts from the players. Holmeshaw, in red shirts and black shorts, looked the sharper side early on and duly took the lead but shortly, much to my relief, Newlands equalised after a hectic goal line scramble. Immediately after, McArdle headed the ball home from a corner to make it 2-1. Really good! The referee was pathetic as usual and seemed to rely on the strength of the appeals from the players for his decisions, doing so on a majority basis. Just before half-time he awarded Holmeshaw a penalty and they whammed it into the roof of the net to pull it back. Good entertainment and well worth 75p! Just after the restart, Athletic went behind from a deflected shot, only for Newlands to grab Athletic's third right at the death; he broke clear and shot past the advancing keeper from near the edge of the area. It was a pretty exciting game. As well as the goals, Holmeshaw hit the upright and Newlands almost lobbed their keeper. Best match I’ve seen since in ages.

I rounded off a pretty good day watching television all evening.

Friday, April 10, 1981


Today felt special somehow, whether because it was the last day of term or the Shuttle launch, I don’t know, but I felt it as soon as I woke up. The bright morning sun probably helped. All day, everything felt so temporary, as if everyone was just biding their time. Lee and Claire started their Geography Field trip to Boggle Hole today and are gone until Tuesday; I saw them fleetingly at registration.

I slaved away all morning writing up my History essay. After dinner Jeremy and I rushed back to my house to see the Shuttle launch, which was scheduled for just before one. Andrew was already watching it and I felt growing excitement as T-0 approached. Fifteen minutes to go, then fourteen, ten-and-a-half, and then at 9 minutes out a hold that dragged on and on and at ten after two we had to leave. School was packed out with sweaty shouting fifths and everyone was either watching or talking about the launch. Ingham came up demanding his essays and then school was over; I think it’s sad to see a school empty, the long, silent corridors that only an hour before were full of noise, bustle and life.

When I got home I found out that the launch had been delayed "at least 81 minutes" and, inevitably, it was eventually put off until Sunday, maybe even Monday. What an anti-climax. Sunday would be good though, for that would coincide exactly with the anniversary of Gagarin’s 1961 Vostok 1 launch.

Wrapped up in thoughts all evening.

Thursday, April 9, 1981


In English we did no work whatsoever and instead spent an hour listening to Mrs. Slicer relating tales of her St. Trinian's past. Then, instead of a lesson from Hirst, all the sixth and seventh formers packed into B8 for a lecture, “Marxism and History” by Dr. Whittaker from Whincliffe.

His talk was pretty obscure and obtuse and people seemed to turn off almost from the moment he began. Many of the terms he used went unexplained and within minutes people were fidgeting, doodling and, eventually, sleeping. Mr. Elson fell asleep and I noted at least three others sleeping too. Although I found it all a bit tedious some points were interesting, especially his point about the ‘socialisation’ of capitalism, which pointed to his acceptance of an evolutionary transition from capitalism to socialism. He mentioned ICI, saying that socialism in that case would merely be a change of ownership. I didn’t agree. The Historians had to wait behind for half-an-hour or so and I asked a question about the inevitability of socialism.

In Art we had a 50-question test, which, if I’d revised, would have been fairly easy. As it was I left six questions blank and then half-ran, half-walked back to school for the staff v ex-pupils rugby match. It was really warm and I was sweating like mad when I got there, and everyone was already changing.

I was given a green and white shirt and told I was playing for the staff. There were about forty people watching including Barkston, Flatters, Simon D., Sean Barker, Robin Q., and some of our sixth form girls. Before the match started both teams had their photos taken by Scott. I had a crummy game, and for long periods I could only walk around after the ball. Only the sight of all those spectators spurred me to run. Occasionally I did get hold of the ball and fumbled it out to Andy or Farrar, but I made a lot of forward passes and my most blatant and embarrassing error came near the end when the ball fell nearby, was kicked past me, and I gave chase, bringing the man to a halt by hanging on to his arm. Christ I was cringing! It was just an impulsive, involuntary thing and was made worse by his indignant cries. We won 13-9 after trailing 3-4 at half-time, and everyone said that I’d played well and if I hadn’t fouled when I did we would’ve lost.

Afterwards, we all piled into various cars and went up into the country somewhere to the The Anchor Inn, where we had a private room hired. I had two pints of Best and after talking with Mrs Newsholme, Ingham, and Mr. Scott I wandered over and sat with Robin Q. and Steve, even talking with Carol Lancaster, Lynn Norden, Tracey Booth and other unapproachables. I began to really enjoy myself, and Elson bought me another pint for my ‘match-winning’ efforts before we left at last-orders.

Wednesday, April 8, 1981


I had an incredibly vivid dream. Claire discovered this diary; meanwhile I was constantly hanging around, a fixture, part of the background, which must say something about my inferiority complex. Ingham took the assembly, which was quite a cutting one about sixth formers who attempt to ‘acquire’ personalities through images. The message was; ‘Be yourself’. In one of our three free periods, Darren Busfield threw an apple core at Laxton, which missed, bounced off a work surface, missed Claire by inches and whacked Duncan in the left eye. English pleasantly anonymous; nothing much happened. It was really warm today, and school smelled of freshly cut grass.

It was an idle evening and I was overcome with an incredible feeling of claustrophobia. I’m just so BORED!!! I never do anything different, and I’m full of dread at the thought of the upcoming fortnight of sheer, unremitting tedium, imprisoned inside with no prospect of doing anything different whatsoever. I got about half-way through my Russo-German essay.

Tuesday, April 7, 1981


In History I took notes on The Social Basis of Stalinism by Roy A. Medvedev. During dinnertime, C. sat next to me, which I enjoyed (crap!). After school we watched Mickey Mouse: The First Fifty Years and Hazel O’Connor’s Breaking Glass; the latter was excellent and I left feeling grumpy and anarchic, despite the good weather.

I spent the evening profitlessly tossing around, talking on the phone with Jeremy, who knows C. once fancied him. Space Shuttle countdown advances – T-2d 13h 15m.

Monday, April 6, 1981


It was bright and sunny first thing and I went to school without a coat, deliberately getting there late so I could revise during assembly. Claire, Evelyn and Christine had decided to do the same thing too, and so our first two periods until eleven were spent desperately looking over essay plans. Inevitably, we all ended up at the staff room, absolutely crawling to Ingham for an extension. At first he was unrelenting, but he soon crumbled and although we were all jubilant, I felt almost guilty, as though I was letting him down, betraying him even. Stupid. Later we discussed possible titles for essays about Stalin – there are hundreds – and I was left with an overwhelming sense of non-achievement; we have so much work to do for History, not to mention English and Art.

Last period, we were all sat in the library when Andy Briscoe wandered in and casually said that “Czechoslovakia’s just declared war on Poland.” Everyone was shocked, and Jeremy and I rushed to Gilthwaite to try get a paper, but when the two o’clock news rolled around there was no mention, and Andy then admitted that he was lying! The bastard!! Things are getting serious over there though and I wouldn’t be surprised if war happens.

Nothing else to report except getting our fixtures for the six-a-side tournament. Our first match is on April 30th, and the rest are every Thursday until July. Countdown for the Shuttle launch has begun and I feel that something is bound to go wrong.

In the evening I wrote up an essay plan (“Why was the Russo-German non-aggression pact signed?”).

Sunday, April 5, 1981


I was annoyed I didn't wake up until eleven thirty because I wanted to clog on with my revision. As a result, I didn’t get started properly until three or so, and I revised my notes on the 1905 revolution and the failure of the Provisional Government. I just hope I can remember it all. I trundled on, breaking off to read The Sunday Times or to eat, and Mum, Dad and NP went out for a run in the Dales. NP was dropped off home on the way back, and in the evening Andrew went out for a drink with Keith Patchett.

A typical, anonymous Sunday.

Saturday, April 4, 1981


I got up criminally late – twelve – and again spent much of the afternoon in my bedroom revising for History. I really got to grips with Trotsky, firmly fixing in my mind his activities until 1921, Inter-Borough Organisation, Vperyod, August Bloc etc.… I got quite enthusiastic about it all.

Andrew came back today. Dad picked him up at the station in the afternoon. Andrew's hair is much shorter, and it was good to see him again. He’s none too confident about this Denmark thing, and seems convinced it will all fall through. Everything pleasant, but this History test looms on the horizon and won't let me stop.

Athletic lost 1-2 at Ingleborough, Lewis scored first for Athletic, but Ingleborough equalised then went ahead immediately.

Friday, April 3, 1981

The prophet armed

I got up really late and by the time I’d got up and everything it was half-past eight. The weather was just like summer, collared doves cooing in the garden and birds singing all the way to school.

Mid-morning and quite out of the blue, Ingham came in to the common room and introduced me to Craig Bentley, who used to do History at Egley and is now doing a degree in Intellectual History at Watermouth. He was dressed pretty weirdly, in shabby maroon cords and a braided, military jacket and Ingham said I should talk with him about Watermouth. After making him some coffee, we went into the study area to talk. It’s so difficult conducting a conversation with someone you’ve never even met before but he seemed OK, and I got a few good interview tips from him. Mainly though, the ‘session’ consisted of several pretty heavy silences, awkward pauses and wooden exchanges. Fortunately, he did all the talking. It seems now that my line would be a course in Politics at Watermouth University.

As soon as I got back into the common room I was greeted by Duncan and Angela and their absolutely puerile, shitty little comments. I was so humiliated. At eleven Jeremy, Deborah, Duncan and I went down for our two hours extra art and I completed my comparative essay. After dinner I stayed in the common room talking to Claire about History or being slapped by Angela. Last period was History all about Trotsky’s contribution to the Soviet Union. We’ve got a pretty important test to revise for on Monday. I’ve also been delegated responsibility for Wednesday’s assembly.

In the evening Nanna P. came and I passed most of the time scouring through Deutscher’s The Prophet Armed and writing various essay plans for History. As I did so, I was gradually seized with enthusiasm for socialism. The details of the prerevolutionary Russian underground are fascinating and I’m eager to read more. Suitably inspired, I grabbed paper and an envelope and wrote a letter to the SPGB, enquiring about local discussion groups. Writing my letter I suddenly realised that “Dear Sir” implies an inherent, sexist attitude – “Comrade” would be better but sounds so contrived somehow – “Citizen”? “Fellow Socialist”? – "Dear fellow socialist” has it. Still clichéd but . . .?? It was interesting to compare SPGB articles on Trotsky and Lenin with the Deutscher biography and Basic Writings. Who at first appears heroic and admirable becomes treacherous and hypocritical.

Thursday, April 2, 1981

Wheatfield with Co-op

I tried to finish an essay for Art comparing two paintings, Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Cypresses and Hockney’s Mr. and Mrs. Ossie Clark and Percy. Claire was quiet, not saying much to anyone, and seemed bored somehow; she went home during the first lesson, saying something about not having done Mrs. Christopher’s homework. Trivial little jokes, silliness, puns and pseudo-witticisms reigned all day. Otherwise, not much to mention at all.

In the evening I wrote a letter to the Co-op inquiring about Saturday jobs. The Shuttle will be launched on Friday April 10th and will be live on ITV. I’m going to have to go home and watch it. No way am I missing that.

Wednesday, April 1, 1981

O Fortuna

In Bastow’s Tutorial we saw a video recording of Carl von Orffe’s Carmina Burana. Some of the scenes, I’m sure, were direct lifts from Hieronymous Bosch paintings. The music was a strange mixture of chants, stentorian tenors etc., and it had a good atmosphere. I sat next to Claire again. I like her, and it’s not something I can help.

Otherwise it was a pleasantly boring day at school. In English we discussed Shakespeare’s handling of death in Antony and Cleopatra and continued reading through Miller’s A View From The Bridge. I also had a careers interview with Ingham, and he gave me seven CRAC university degree course guides and said that in the next two months I should pin down a specific area or course of study. It’ll probably be political philosophy. He also gave me some addresses to write to about the possibility of working on a kibbutz in Israel after ‘A’ levels.

Andrew rang in the evening to tell Mum about his second year assessment, which was mainly ‘A’s and ‘B’s with a few ‘C’s and just one ‘D’. I could tell from Mum’s voice that he was in a good mood. He's also been selected to go on an eight week paid course to a studio in Denmark! I was really quite envious. Later, I watched Liverpool beat West Ham 2-1 in the League Cup Final Replay and also the Academy Awards, inbetween doing English homework.

I’ll probably read Trotsky before sleeping.
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