Thursday, December 31, 1981


Lee came at eleven and we intended on working but after a brief attempt at Hirst’s essay our efforts soon dissolved into boredom and lethargy. For a while we played Scrabble and drank tea up in my room. At two, Lee rang Claire and she invited us both over for her party.

We set off at seven, the roads glassy and treacherous. I took a couple of cans of lager and on the way over Lee bought a bottle of cider and I bought four more cans of Heineken. When we got to Claire's only her sister Linda and Evelyn were there but soon everyone started to arrive. The flat was rigged out with UV and disco lights and everything glowed with an incandescent purple; pretty flashy. Claire looked delighted when Adam showed up: he's a banker and a real creep and I suspect the only reason she's with him is for the money. Soon the music started thudding and the drinks began to flow and I made a conscious effort  to not get drunk and so had two pints of cider and a few glasses of wine and/or martini. . . . Even though I wasn't pissed I felt like reveling and I was soon frenetically dancing away with Lee and Linda and a few others, Claire on the sofa with her all-arms-and-smiles boyfriend.

At five minutes to twelve the music was switched off and we all poured drinks and loudly counted down to 1982: glasses were raised, New Year kisses exchanged (at least I got to kiss her once), and then, a discordant and monotonous rendition of Auld Lang Syne and back to the frantic dancing. Lee left at about half past twelve leaving me dancing happily hand in hand with Linda, and I got another kiss off Evelyn as she left. Claire busied herself with off-stage responsibilities and I felt miles away as ever. Nothing will ever happen between us: she’s too taken with materialistic affection for cars and expensive meals and her social life.

I eventually left at one-thirty with Paul to go jump in a fountain. . . .

He was pretty well gone by this point and we blundered into Moxthorpe, me with a bottle of port and he with one of Guinness, offering passers-by swigs and loudly wishing them a happy New Year. Thus we wandered aimlessly around the centre of Moxthorpe for half-an-hour, me feeling increasingly uneasy about the late hour and trying to drag the by now female-seeking Paul home. . . .

None of this gets me anywhere. I feel fed up really.

Wednesday, December 30, 1981

Dank, dull and dismal

I was up just before noon and found the house empty, Dad at work, Mum and Andrew at Janet’s. Lee rang: he’s coming round tomorrow to do some homework with me.

The thaw continues; everything is dank, dull and dismal. I did a few more art notes during the afternoon. I hope there is a New Year's Eve thing I can go to tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 29, 1981

Artemis '81

I went into Easterby with Andrew early on and we wandered round William Street Market, WH Smith’s, Eastgate, Erickson’s, HMV, etc. . . . I borrowed money off him to buy DADA-Art and Anti-Art by Hans Richter. I also bought a jumper from Burton’s. We got back at one.

Grant Riley rang at seven and we had a fairly long talk about his poetry, our mutual dislike of Christmas, the binge he went on on Xmas eve, and a performance art thing he did with Nik and friend involving blue, pink, and yellow footprints and saliva to the sounds of U Roy.

Watched Artemis '81: weird with a capital W. “Public virgins who spatter us with their moral filth.”

Monday, December 28, 1981

Pathological desire

I intended on meeting Lee and Andy in Easterby at ten but I was woken up at half-past by Lee ringing from Queensgate. I was annoyed at myself because I wanted to look round the sales: I wasted the rest of the day in typical fashion, playing records, and doing nothing in particular.

I watched Close Encounters at 7.30 which was brilliant. We turned off the TV after it was finished because nothing could follow that and we spent the next hour talking, mainly about Robert, and stewing ourselves into a real depression. I’ve been thinking about my pathological desire to get drunk at every soiree around. My New Year's resolution must be to alter this. I deny myself something.

A big thaw is underway.

Sunday, December 27, 1981

Phallus Dei

Robert, Carol and the cats left with Dad and Andrew at eleven and at one I set off for Lee’s. The snow is still piled high in places but is thawing and the roads are clear. We spent much of the afternoon listening to Lee’s reggae tapes, watching TV and talking. I stayed for tea and I suppose I enjoyed it.

I left at nine with two waistcoats and a record Lee had given me, Amon Düül II's Phallus Dei, which used to be Andrew’s but which I loaned to Lee ages ago. I walked up to the bus with Andy Wiechec and Paul Bednarski. It was snowing and the snow's at least ½ inch deep on top of everything else. . . .

Saturday, December 26, 1981


After the big build-up, the Day itself come and gone, there was a great sense of anti-climax about today. Tension, aggro and irritability coursed beneath the surface all afternoon, and while Dad, Andrew and I watched a Harold Lloyd film, Robert bemoaned his disillusionment with his job and teaching in general to Mum and Carol in the other room, condemning the work ethic pushed in schools and even talked about packing in teaching altogether. He was almost in tears and half blames Carol for nagging him to come north. He really loved his school in London and had loads of mates and thinks Swinscoe Comprehensive is pretty pathetic. “I feel wasted and have a real feeling I’m going to end up doing nothing with my life.”

In the evening I played records while Rob and Carol went out with a friend and his wife who they haven’t seen in two years and Mum, Dad and Andrew watched Gone With The Wind. There was bad feeling about slavery or something, Dad saying, “they weren’t so badly off after all,” to which Andrew said, “Why do you always support the really right wing side?”

Mum was again in tears, and ended the evening saying, “It’s been a stinking Boxing Day.”

Friday, December 25, 1981

Familiar ground

I didn't feel half as bad as I expected when I woke up.

Once the whole family was gathered together, Dad handed the presents out from under the tree and when we’d each got our piles assembled we tore into them. . . . Half an hour later and the front room was strewn with the wreckage of paper, presents and people. I got a book on Dada & Surrealism, a bag, several packs of rulers, crayons etc. from Mum and Dad, a record (Elvin Jones Jazz Machine's Remembrance) from Andrew, an Athletic scarf off Rob and Carol and a record case from Nanna P.  Everyone else seemed quite pleased with what they’d got.

I enjoyed Christmas dinner and we spent the rest of the day lethargically eating, watching TV and playing dominoes. Dad went up to see Nanna B. around dinnertime and found her all alone and in tears. She'd declined Uncle Arnold’s invitation to go to their house. She said she didn't have any presents to give and felt guilty and miserable.

Later I watched Kurosawa’s brilliant 1975 film, Dersu Uzala (I’d agitated about it for weeks), and it got a good reception . Later on still I talked with Andrew about music, friends, etc., and I felt optimistic.

Thursday, December 24, 1981

A row of laughing faces . . .

Dad and Andrew dropped me off at the dentist’s on their way to pick Robert & Carol up and the foul drilling and scraping didn’t take long. I was home by ten.

Uncle Kenneth, Janet and her 6 month-old baby Michael came round for half-an-hour at eleven or so. Mum really goo-ed over the baby and it was a side to her I’ve never seen before: she seemed much younger all of a sudden. Janet gave him to me to hold I quickly passed him on, terrified of dropping him. At about half-one, Robert, Carol, Andrew, and Dad arrived with cats in tow and we spent the rest of the day in typical pre-Christmas joviality. During the afternoon, Dad, Andrew and Robert went out to Nunstead and bought about sixty pints of beer plus numerous bottles of spirits, etc.

When the phone rang at seven I was sat resignedly reading Harlan Ellison. I got ready feverishly and was at the bus stop in minutes, but half an hour later the bastard bus had still not turned up so in a fury I tore back up home and whined and cajoled a lift from Dad. I met Paul and John at the latter’s house and we got a lift into town.

Our first stop was at a fairly busy, sit-down pub-type place. I had a cider and wondered just what I thought I was doing there; it wasn't my scene at all. Next place was incredibly crowded and noisy and we barely had an inch to move so we didn’t stay long. Then on again to the next stop, Sir Busby’s, which was also incredibly crowded. We fought our way to the relative freedom and cooler air of a stairwell. Out on the streets crowds of laughing, shouting people wandered about; we hit the road again, the different venues blurring into an alcoholic kaleidoscope of screams, flashing lights, laughter, thudding rhythms. I think we went to six or seven places in all.

By this point I was enjoying myself and pretty well-drunk and I loudly greeted everyone as we passed them on the street. We went to a couple more places before we staggered our loud, hazy way on toward home. It was about eleven and most places were closing. Paul said that there were two discos in Farnshaw which stayed open ‘til two so off we went, walking up to Lockley where we caught a taxi. All I had left from a fiver was 90p.

The first place was in Farnshaw centre, but "no collar, no chance," and I felt myself getting angry and even argued noisily with the doorman. I thought we weren’t going to get in anywhere but the bouncers at Harvey's either missed me or didn't care and I was really glad we were actually in: only midnight, two more hours!! Crowds and tables, arms and bodies tangled in the darkness. I'm trying to remember here exactly how it went, but it’s all so confusing. I remember kissing two girls who were sitting on the steps near the DJ. It was like something out of a film. I even got a kiss off Liz Buckle. . . . Unbelievable!

By now I was hot, drunk, and drowsy so I staggered home by myself and crashed out downstairs, remembered scraps of the night's incidents spinning through my head–being told to “piss off” at the Cove, pissing in a sink, a row of laughing faces. . . .

Wednesday, December 23, 1981


I was up at twelve and spent the day listening to music and talking with Andrew. I still haven’t started my homework. I have an art test and a composition to prepare for, a history essay and four pieces of work for English.

All of a sudden, it seems that Christmas is here. Christmas Eve tomorrow already and dentist part 2. Also my pub crawl hopefully.

Geoff Boycott has passed Sobers' world record of 8032 test runs and is now on 8037. He’s brilliant. In Poland, the army has stormed Katowice steel-works where several thousand workers are barricaded. Worldwide, empty messages of support. Hypocrites.

Tuesday, December 22, 1981


Mum was in Easterby when I got downstairs; just Andrew was home, playing records. Kent U. have sent me a date to visit, January 28th, so I’ll incorporate that into a visit to see Andrew for his birthday.

Claire rang me up to ask if I had a spare ticket for tonight’s Egley Former Students Association party at Harvey's (I didn't), and when I eventually got down there at half-past eight Lee had already arrived, dressed in army surplus trousers, gators, boots and an army fatigue-cap and looking like something out of the last war.

There were only a few people around and we both sat feeling awkward until Claire, Deborah, Evelyn and entourage arrived after half-an-hour or so and invited us to come and sit with them. I started to get drunk and talked with Evelyn, and I could see Claire smiling patronisingly and exchanging comments with Deborah. I bought Evelyn drinks, and she returned the favour and as it got late, we ended up out on the dance floor. It felt like I was sliding inevitably into a situation which is totally untrue to reality and yet is one everyone believes. But about midnight, Claire and Evelyn and co. said goodbye and left.

By this time I was drunk and beyond caring. The DJ played UB40, Bob Marley etc., and I leaped strenuously around, sweat splashing off my face and hair. I was really enjoying myself, and by the time it was over it was just me, Paul Wallace and John Jackson on the dance floor. Paul asked me if I fancied going on a pub crawl with him and John on Christmas Eve.
I walked home with them as far as Moxthorpe and then went to Colin Baron's with Maxine for a drunken coffee.

Monday, December 21, 1981

88 Page Double Xmas Xtra

It started snowing again this morning, a fine, sleety flurry that continued all day. I went into Easterby at nine on the bus with Mum and met Lee at ten after drawing £18 out of the bank.

In Easterby, everywhere is still clogged by piles of snow and slushy brown water and the conditions now are just wet and unpleasant. We visited the Army Stores, Oxfam, the Library, and Praxis and I came home at three with only an NME to show for my efforts.

I bought a copy of Jazz Journal International, but its aroma of mainstream jazz elitism, conservatism and suspicion of anything forward looking annoys me. And the NME also irritates with its own clichéd brand of trendy pretentiousness. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems as if they write what they do not because they really believe in any of it, but just because it’s the ‘in’ thing to be and do. All the ban-the-bomb, pro-CND, anti-cruise stuff feels like a journalistic jumping-on-the-bandwagon.

Sunday, December 20, 1981

Annual chore

I awoke to steady, light snow, which degenerated into drizzle in the afternoon. I was up by eleven but Andrew stayed in bed until half-twelve and from then on, idleness and boredom, feeling depressed, hemmed in and bleak. Andrew feels the same I suspect. In the house an atmosphere of moroseness prevailed, with a slight undercurrent of tension. Occasionally Mum and Dad flared up, whining and moaning on about something or other.

The thought of Christmas fills me with a kind of resignation. I hadn’t thought about it before, but what Andrew says is true: on Christmas day we’ll all sit there like idiots wearing stupid paper hats, stuffing our faces for no other reason than "it's Christmas." It’s all such a boring and predictable routine now, an annual chore.

By evening a gradual thaw had set in and after dark, everywhere was alive to the sounds of dripping water. I watched Bowie’s The Man Who Fell To Earth on TV. Weird.

Saturday, December 19, 1981


After much cajoling from Mum I got up at half-ten. She wanted me and Andrew to help with the Christmas shopping so we all set off amid snow and sun to Farnshaw.

It was all very tedious wandering round supermarkets and shops, but at least I ‘borrowed’ money off Mum and bought a book of selections from the quarterly literary journal Bananas that included contributions from J.G. Ballard, Beryl Bainbridge, Ted Hughes and Miles. . . . All the people out shopping were like lemmings: so predictable.

After we got back it was a pretty faceless day. Heavy snow is forecast for tonight and with tomorrow’s Athletic match at Cardigan Park already called off, the prospects for soccer over Christmas look really remote. I did nothing but watch TV or talk. Andrew made spaghetti bolognaise for tea. It was OK.

Friday, December 18, 1981

General state

Big drama. Dad was on at six and got up to discover the pipes frozen. Mum rang the Water Authority and was in a general state until she left for work at eight.

I went to school late and found most people still away. I didn’t see Claire until break and there was sort of a negative, everything ending feel to the afternoon as it wound down to two-thirty. In Assembly we sang deliberately out of key, and I’ll miss everyone over the holidays. At one point, Claire were going to come to my house but never did: instead I walked home with Lee and played him the Talisman 12”.

The water was running again by the time Dad got home. The pipes weren't frozen but a tap under the sink was closed and when Mum got home late (all the buses were full so she'd had to walk),  a huge argument exploded between the two of them over nothing at all. Mum ended up crying. All evening I was possessed by a despondent sort of remorse,  a nostalgia almost. I felt reflective. The only hopeful note was Andrew’s suggestion that I go to Denmark with him next year.

Thursday, December 17, 1981

Free speech

It's bitterly cold again today and although there's no more snow it's still piled into huge mounds and is nearly a foot deep everywhere. At nine I trudged resignedly on to Easterby Road for my dental appointment and had my first fillings in years. The left side of my jaw and my lips felt tingly and swollen. Horrible.

Andrew was up when I got back and we played records until a quarter-to-eleven when Claire and Evelyn knocked at the door. They both gave me cards and stayed for a bit and I was really glad they’d come. Shortly afterwards, Andrew and I set off into Easterby where I bought Robert & Carol two framed and mounted Chinese butterflies and I left Andrew searching for Christmas presents while I wandered round and looked for cards.

The snow was amazing, and in the places where it'd been walked on it had the consistency of powder. All over the town centre cars were still snarled up in the uncleared piles and somehow everything felt really different. I met up with Andrew again at HMV where I bought a 12” reggae single (“Free Speech”/”Dole Age”) by Talisman. I saw Sean Laxton, Dawn Jagger and Paul Wallace.

According to the radio tonight, the Polish Security Police are savagely putting down the strikes. Sixteen people have been killed and forty-five thousand are interned. Workers armed with axes are fighting with police in Gdansk.

Wednesday, December 16, 1981

Stupid things

School opened again today, although many people are still away. There was an excited atmosphere about. No one did any work and we were all in a silly, lighthearted mood: lots of loud laughter and stupid things.

I enjoyed it all.

I walked home with Lee, Tim, Peter, Adrian, and Steve being totally stupid, a fair amount of talk about Sunday night again. Apparently Barkston wants to see each 6th-former involved individually. Robert rang with good news about his overdraft: the insurance has given him £1300.

In the evening I wandered around in the snow with Tim and Peter.

Tuesday, December 15, 1981

Uncoordinated strike action

No new snow, no real thaw. In Poland, reports of shooting and uncoordinated strike action. "Poland is now the only military dictatorship anywhere in Europe." I went into school but it was closed, and just me, Laura and Halyna showed up. We spent the day reading to each other and eating or talking. . . .

Andrew rolled up about nine. I was happy to see him: it’s good to talk.

Monday, December 14, 1981


Among our school party a hushed feeling of guilt, everyone blaming everyone else, being “cunning” as Hirst put it. This was the main topic of conversation for much of the day, little huddled groups arguing with one another.

It was sunny and had rained overnight so no snow. We went to the National and the Great Japan Exhibition and I felt so tired as we walked around, and Debbie Helliwell asked me about last night in a sort of forceful, depressed way. She'd spewed up all over her room and said she was trying to avoid everybody. I felt sorry for her. Afterwards, we went round the V&A and then wandered round shops, back to the hotel and to King's Cross for the 3.45 train. Someone said there was two feet of snow in Easterby.

The journey up was quite good. I felt more sociable. The snow started to get deep around Moorwood and by the time we reached Easterby it was nearly a foot deep and still snowing and we were all amazed. The city centre was deserted: what traffic there was was in chaos, abandoned cars and crewless buses. I got home at about eight, but set out again almost straight away for Harvey's and the school Xmas Party.

I met Lee inside, but because of the weather not many people turned up,and I felt strangely subdued and unenthusiastic. I got a bit drunk but mainly was just pissed off and tired. I also threw up in the bathroom upstairs. Too much cider. Went home depressed.

Sunday, December 13, 1981

Paradise Bar

I was up early as we were off to London to see the Great Japan Exhibition. The news full of Poland: the army has been sent in. Dad gave me a lift down and we stopped on the way to pick up Laura and Halyna. The station was packed with the parents and all the kids who were going, fifty three in all. The train journey down was pretty boring and I sat on my own, across the aisle from Laura and Halyna, and then from Moorwood on, I had to sit with a merchant seaman en route to Stroud, Kent, plus two Moorwood housewives.

We reached London’s Euston Station as it was coming in dark. London was cold, damp and utterly depressing and after checking into our hotel and dropping our bags, we set out in blizzard conditions for the Tate Gallery. On the journey down, Mrs Blakeborough had introduced me to Patrick Caulfield’s work so I was looking forward to seeing the exhibition.

We had to pay 30p at the entrance (shouldn't all art be free?) but it was worth it: the exhibition was superb. Caulfield himself was there. He's a short, middle-aged, grey-haired intellectual type and was wearing a leather jacket and was surrounded by a tongue-lolling gaggle of hangers-on, all eagerly assaulting him with questions (I'm being unfair here). His paintings are amazing, and much bigger and brighter than I’d imagined, huge criss-crossed areas of vivid blue or red that literally clashed and vibrated as I stared at them. “Paradise Bar” was the best.

Suitably impressed, we launched ourselves back into the freezing blizzard outside and reached our hotel in the dark. Much indecision as to what to do. Adrian Barlow and Tim Moyles and I ate at the hotel (useless service for £2.55). Halyna wanted to go to the Venue but it was miles away and considering the weather we decided to stay in. Laura said we could all have a party in her room so I offered to go to an off-licence. With £2 in hand I tramped off to buy two bottles of cider and two cans of lager. I smuggled them into the hotel under my coat feeling like a wino.

In room 228 it was just me, Tim, Adrian, Halyna, Laura, Jill Davey and Louise Taylor at first, but Jackie Spurr and another 5th year showed up and we all sat on the bed, girls at one end, boys at the other, drinking awkwardly out of cans. But as the cider, lager and martinis mixed we all mingled, and soon the room was packed. Once the drinks dried up, a 5th year head case, pissed out of his skull, auctioned off a bottle of cider which I bought it for a pound. Fifth year Debbie Helliwell was really, really drunk and she slurringly asked me to top up her drink. She said she had to go to the bathroom and so I half-dragged, half-pulled her in the right direction but she slumped back on to the bed.

Somehow or other I ended up in the bathroom. I opened the door to find one kid snogging Debbie who by this time was completely legless. Half-seriously, I told him that he was taking advantage of her and he (half-seriously also), told me to piss off. I was on the edge of the bath. "I cut my finger, I cut my finger," he kept saying and I made a move to see if Hirst was in the vicinity and sssh-ed them both, pressing a finger to Debbie's lips. I felt warm inside; I was drunk. Then Hirst opened the door.

The real world, responsibility, voices raised in retribution, the throng dispersing back to their own rooms, a time for doctored excuses. I felt guilt, shame but also annoyance. Who knows what would have happened if Hirst had come even fifteen minutes later? I just didn’t want to go to bed. Halyna and Laura kept ringing our room and saying they’d come down if they could and this went on for 1½ hours and we even attempted to go up there at one-thirty but Mr. Metcalf accosted us as we emerged into the hallway.

Saturday, December 12, 1981


I spent all day in Easterby but bought nothing except a book by Tolstoy, My Childhood & Boyhood, a 1919 first edition, for 65p. Everything was cold and bright.

As I wended my dejected way to the bus, I saw a straggling line of marchers, several hundred strong coming down Dyson Street and turning onto Beck Street. Every faction of the left seemed to be represented–the Young Communist League, the North East Anarchist Federation, a column about four-five deep, that took several minutes to shamble past. “Whose Conspiracy? Police Conspiracy! Free The Whincliffe 9!” and “What Do We Want? Drop The Charges! When Do We Want It? Now!” they chanted raggedly. I was fascinated by the black and red flags of the anarchist Federation and I chased after them, pacing along at the side and bumping into Deborah who said, “I expected to see you marching." This depressed me somewhat.

At half-six I set off for school and the Drama Society production of Twelfth Night. I managed to get up on to the Careers balcony with the lighting and sound crew where I stayed throughout the play. Lee rolled up at about quarter-past seven and we watched the 150 seats fill up. In came Claire with her boy friend in tow. Jeremy was really good, better by far than anyone else, and Steve was easily the worst–so wooden. It was hilarious in parts and very well done. At the interval we went down for a coffee and Claire virtually ignored me.

After it was all over, we went down to the FE Lounge for the ‘party.' There were quite a lot of people there but Deborah mentioned Evelyn again, and then came all the inevitable nudge-nudge, wink-wink and leg-pulling from all and sundry. Says Deborah, “You must be more appealing than Steve!” It all got quite wild, with people rushing about spraying each other with green hair dyes.

I despondently accepted a lift home from Nigel Muff.

Friday, December 11, 1981

Everything but work

More doses of the same. I did everything but work, and there was a stupid, irresponsible, vaguely ‘Christmassy’ feel about everything. At school we played table-tennis, using hands for bats, books as a net and baubles from a Christmas tree as balls, which coincided with Mr. Flatters showing visitors round: much embarrassment. There was also a huge water fight among the sixth years. Elson told me that I have to “get my finger out.” I went to the shop with Lee and Evelyn and as for Claire, I hardly talked with her.

After school I got really depressed. I'm still as solitary as ever.

The television today is full of news about the chaos the snow is causing. A train crash near London has killed four and it’s the worst pre-Christmas weather for 31 years. It was -13°C in Glasgow last night. There's still no more snow here.

Thursday, December 10, 1981


It was extremely cold this morning, everything frozen, the ground still white and the paths slippery with snow. By the time I reached school my ears ached. The sky was perfectly clear all day but the sun scarcely crept above the horizon. It began to get dark about three.

Claire was in when I got there. She was free third lesson and we sat together but I hated her obvious lack of interest. She’s as inaccessible as Mt. Everest. We talked about the desirability of money, and I said (probably just for effect) that I didn’t want any. . . . Jeremy was again in fine form, Laura nice and friendly. Everything else the usual crap. School is so strange at the moment; all play and no work.

I went home in the afternoon and Dad gave me a lift into Easterby on his way to work. I took £16 and wandered around looking for Christmas presents. I got Mum a book she’s asked for, Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, and I bought Dad a framed photo’ of Lloyd Street from 1903. At the library I bought myself a 1963 first edition hardback of Oscar Handlin’s The American People.

I got home at three-thirty and after boringly familiar Art, I did absolutely nothing but stagnate.

Wednesday, December 9, 1981


For once I was up early.  My bedroom windows were frozen over for the second successive morning and it was bitterly cold walking to school, the coldest morning to date: the ground was covered in frost.

I spent all day constructing scenery in the drama area and I only got a fleeting glimpse of Claire. Lee and I carried up the fiberglass pillars and archways and screwed them all together, and although they are slightly wobbly I think they’ll stand up. I again had a couldn’t care-less attitude, which somehow is all still linked with Sunday. Me and Lee were loud and stupid a lot of the time. Everyone seemed to be on about girls and girlfriends, who fancies who, etc., and I noted with resignation the virtually universal knowledge of my alleged moves towards Evelyn.

After school I was at a loss and as everyone had left I wandered home through the frozen wastes feeling really depressed and fed up. At home, on my own, I read Thoreau’s Walden and I’m quite enjoying it. At about four, very fine flakes of snow began to fall and continued into teatime. . . . By nightfall there was a thin powdery layer of white over everything.

Tuesday, December 8, 1981


Rehearsals for Twelfth Night went on all day and, as I now lack the motivation to attend lessons completely, Lee and I hung around waiting for an excuse to knock them, which we did. For a long time we hung around doing nothing but eventually went down to woodwork and painted the arches and pillars for the scenery white–to be actually doing something, at last! Halyna and Laura helped us paint.

I talked with Claire about Sunday during third period (“I hear you were after Evelyn”) and things are so strange. After school we watched a full dress rehearsal with costumes, lighting, and everything.

I'm looking forward to Christmas and all the parties in a way, but I again bemoan my character. Christ, Claire doesn’t even know that I like her. . . .

Monday, December 7, 1981


I kept waking up throughout the night feeling terrible, my mouth dry and seedy, my head acheing. Morning came with a throbbing hangover and a flatulent queasy feeling in my stomach. I was sick.

It was brisk outside and I strode to school half-relishing, half-fearing the day's prospects. I was in a strident, confident sort of mood, being spontaneous and enjoying it but also feeling both guilt and nostalgia about last night. Deborah teased me about Evelyn but Claire seemed to half-ignore me, as if I’d just sunk out of her estimation completely, and when she did speak to me her tone was half-serious, as if she was thinking, “you idiot, why were you doing it?” Evelyn though was in a loud, good mood: Deborah said she was “chuffed” because of last-night (!?).

After school, me, Lee, Laura, Halyna and Peter worked on Twelfth Night scenery, painting all the boxes on the stage slate grey and indulging in crude conversation. We were there until seven-thirty.

Sunday, December 6, 1981

Mr. Inhibition

Rob and Carol went at eleven and, as Dad is on nights, the house fell into funerary silence until he got up at two thirty. Thus the day passed.

Tonight was Claire’s birthday “do” and I was dreading it. I set off just after seven and walked down through Moxthorpe with growing butterflies. I was ushered in by Mrs. Pearson, who took my coat and showed me into the living room – Claire was already there, along with her boyfriend Adam Hilty (who is confident, mature and just as I imagined him), Claire's cousin John Jackson, her sister Linda and brother Trevor, and Deborah and Tony. Lee arrived shortly after, and then Christine C. and Adrian Butler and finally Evelyn.

Soon, with drinks flowing, everyone began dancing. I was Mr. Inhibition himself, and sat instead mixing shorts and getting gradually more and more pissed. I was sitting next to Evelyn and we talked most of the evening: I got her drinks and was generally quite sociable with her, which I suppose I enjoyed really.

Anyway, at the end of the night with most of the others gone Evelyn, Lee, John, Linda Pearson and I danced frenetically about, drinking QC out of the bottle while Claire tidied up. It really does break the ice, and I was being really friendly with everyone at the end. I got a lift home from Claire’s boyfriend (memories very vague here) and stumbled into bed feeling awful, the room lurching up, down and sideways.

Saturday, December 5, 1981

Christmas looms large

It was almost one when I got up. I was disgusted and annoyed with myself and hardly had time to wake up properly before setting off for Cardigan Park and Athletic's match against first-placed Cotton Bank Trinity.

Robert and Carol were already there when I arrived and they seem to have got over their troubles: they were both in good moods. Cotton Bank were quick and skillful, and at times really did outplay us. They had a goal disallowed after fourteen minutes and scored after twenty, a superb goal. Ackroyd kept Athletic in the game with some brilliant saves: one in particular from a 35-yard shot was just unbelievable. Things looked to be petering out to half time when, as these things happen, I saw the ball arc across the goal mouth in slow motion and Hughes head it in for an equalizer! We all went wild with delight and the whistle was blown almost immediately.

The second half was really memorable. Athletic attacked much more and it was end-to-end stuff. Newlands had a header cleared off the line and at one point, with the crowd going wild, we had three corners on the trot. I could feel the excitement building. But eight minutes before the end Cotton Bank went 2-1 up. Robert said “that’s it,” but three minutes later, McArdle was sent away on the right, rounded two defenders and then the keeper, and shot in from a really acute angle. What a goal! Incredible! 2-2! Relief surged through the crowd.

Burning feelings of intense emotion in the last few minutes, the crowd shrieking their heads off, desperate goalmouth scrambles, a minute to go . . . time passing so, so slowly . . . then a scrambled, rebounding ball was in the back of the Athletic net and the home crowd rippled with despair, the Cotton Bank fans on their feet. “The bastards have scored!” The whistle went to applause from both sides. 2-3. Athletic still third.

Brilliant game, so exciting.

Robert & Carol came home on the bus with me to stay the night. My plans to go see reggae evaporated in indecision and I spent the evening playing dominoes and Scrabble with Robert. Dad insisted that they come to our house for Christmas. Suddenly, Christmas looms large in everyone’s plans.

Friday, December 4, 1981

"Hey, ho, the wind and the rain"

No school today for some reason, but I went down to help with the scenery at eleven. All the cast was there and I seemed to be the only backstage person around. I felt quite out of it and rang Lee and hung around until he arrived feeling decidedly uneasy and conspicuously idle.

For the next three hours we stuck leaves onto the “trees” we’ve made: red, green and blue tissue paper works wonders. We'd at last achieved something and at had evidence to show for a few hours work. Jeremy, who's playing the part of Feste in Twelfth Night, had to rehearse a long solo and I was surprised at the quality of his singing: he wasn't flat at all. Everyone clapped when he’d finished.

I endured yet another claustrophobic evening, so tomorrow I’ll ring Grant up and ask him if he fancies seeing a reggae group at the Wavezz Club with me. I have to DO something!!

Thursday, December 3, 1981


I went to see the dentist for my first checkup in six years: I was only there about thirty minutes but I was told I needed five or six fillings.

At school Deborah and I had an amiable yet (for me) difficult conversation: she was really very friendly, but I was just being a bum. I missed half of my Art lesson because I was helping Lee construct scenery for Twelfth Night. We finished the trees. I saw Deborah talking with Maxine and Evelyn: laughter and protestations, Maxine blushing. They were teasing her about something. . . .

Lee had his tea at our house and we went back down to school to continue working on the scenery, only to discover that Mr. Giles had changed the plans at the last minute.

Wednesday, December 2, 1981

"Are you satisfied with the life you're living?"

In English we listened to Bob Marley’s Exodus as an example of Caribbean alienation, etc. . . . If Barkston had known he would have no doubt disapproved. Claire was away. In General Studies we had a lecture about sex rôles in society.

Tuesday, December 1, 1981


Things with Claire went well; in History last period everyone messed about and she and I played dominoes. A good day.
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