Saturday, February 28, 1981

Space invader

Totally depressing morning and afternoon, overnight snow only adding to the dead end atmosphere. I was incredibly bored, and everything was claustrophobic. Nanna P. arrived at about one and was again in raucous good form, and so the day continued until six-thirty when I left for Easterby and my evening out with Lee. He and Wiechec got on the same bus as me at Lodgehill, both looking quite odd in their matching military-style peaked caps.

We started out at the Polish club up Honeywell Road. Andy's brother Jonas was there, along with Vic Banasiak, who I hadn't seen since Lodgehill Middle days of '77. He's now a real man who smokes and is into heavy-metal. “Fucking hell, when are you going to stop growing?” were his first words on seeing me for the first time in four years. Several older men were dressed in traditional Polish costume of baggy trousers, ankle boots, and white braided blouses and Jonas wore one of these outfits too but looked quite ridiculous because he’s really thin. We played darts for a while in the seedy stairwell by the bar along with a friend of Andy and Vic's, a quiet lad called Mick.

After an hour or so we left for the Viceroy lower down the street. It's a really crummy Pakistani curry house and its bare, graffiti adorned games room was sparsely patronised. We played pool, Space Invaders and generally just ‘enjoyed’ the atmosphere. I loved the recklessness feeling of it all and how it felt a bit below board somehow.

We walked back home through the slushy streets of Lockley and a misty Woodhead Park and at Lodgehill I left Andy and Lee who cut down towards Three Locks Road, and I got home by eleven. Watched Universal Soldier, a hippy film from 1971, which was pretty good.

Friday, February 27, 1981

Super 8

Lee brought his ciné camera in to use up the film from London and so most of our three free periods we filmed each other. We went down into the English block and I knocked on Slicer's door and asked if we could have a word; as she came out Jeremy squirted her with a squeezy bottle of water with Lee filming. I’ve never seen her move so fast! Also, Peter Wood told me that his third year sister fancies me. I commiserate.

The evening was aimless and annoying. I entered a Lloyd’s Bank competition the first prize of which is a nineteen-day holiday in China. I’m confident I answered the questions right, so maybe! Lee rang and I'm meeting him and Andy Wiechec, who I haven’t seen since 1977, near Elmet Baths at seven tomorrow. We’re going to a café, the sleazy sounding Viceroy Club, to play pool.

Thursday, February 26, 1981


I was really tired today and it was difficult waking up, and I eventually got up just as Mum left for work at eight. Shades of Friday first period, Deborah and Claire in flirty moods again, especially with Duncan, who Deborah teased by claiming Claire fancies him. I felt low, but a bit better during Slicer's English lesson. I talked a bit more and for once really enjoyed it as we talked about the differences between friendship and love. I said that friendship was merely a diluted form of love, but Duncan refused to accept this for some reason. More silliness afterwards, Claire and Deborah disappearing for long periods, giggling about Tony and Michael and again plunging me into the a pit of worthlessness. During Art I sat next to Julie Crabtree, who’s eager to talk. She kept singing “I want to make love to you. . . .” I wish she wouldn’t.

A nothing evening.

Wednesday, February 25, 1981

Old leather

The ‘phone was supposed to wake me up at five but it didn't and it was Mum who finally did. Everything weird and silent and dead. I enjoyed the walk over to Deakin’s house, and after waiting in a quiet hush for him to get ready, he got his Mum’s car and we drove down into Easterby. I was envious that he can drive. Mark Pittock was the only one waiting in the near deserted Holdsworth Square station, but within half an hour everyone else had turned up and we all trooped up to the train. Changed at Whincliffe and took a 125 straight down to London. Lee, Richard, Mark, and Rich Houlding & I played cards on the way down while Duncan and Tommy sat off at the end of the carriage with Angela.

We got in at about half nine and took a tube from King’s Cross to Westminster where we met Leslie Tyndall MP, who first showed us round the House of Lords, which is especially lavish. The elaborate ornamentation inside surprised me really, and I don’t know what I expected but it came as a real surprise. This strengthened my feeling that this undemocratic institution should be abolished. We did the rounds in two groups, and I was in the group without Duncan. Mr. Ingham seemed fascinated. The House of Commons was next and quite as I’d imagined it – musty and Cromwellian, with lots of wood and old leather. The whole set up had a right-wing, pro-establishment flavour to it, and all the formalities, rules and etiquette made it seem so out of touch. How can MPs really care about two-and-a-half million unemployed when they're cut off inside this museum-like chamber? The plight of the unemployed must seem so distant.

We were done at half-eleven and released into the streets. Lee had brought along his ancient ciné camera and he filmed us sporadically as we wandered around in a big group. Duncan and Angela wanted to see 10 Downing Street and so we all marched off to stand pointlessly around that gloomy house before going to St. James’ Park to eat. Lee filmed the seagulls as they flew in low or hovered in twos and threes, flapping around us as we threw bread into the air. We trekked up the Mall, past Buck House and on to Victoria tube station to Oxford Circus. I wanted to see Foyle’s and we walked up Oxford Street's vast length, jostling through the crowds and starting to flag a bit as not a bookshop was to be seen. But eventually we reached Claude Gill books, where we browsed a while. There was a Virgin record shop opposite which was enormous, and they had every conceivable record in there: all the Santana tour albums, every Weather Report album, all the Return To Forever albums and Grover Washington records galore. After choosing several albums and changing my mind several times I eventually decided on “Mister Magic.” I felt chuffed. We finally found Foyle’s, ate at McDonald’s and got back to Kings Cross for six as scheduled.

Back home by ten after a boring journey. It’s been a good day, and I’ve enjoyed it, but you’ll never guess what . . . “Mister Magic” jumps!! I feel totally depressed.

Tuesday, February 24, 1981


Got up late. Mum out, Dad in bed. Unlike yesterday I achieved nothing. The snow is thawing, and I spent most of my time reading or making notes on Stalin. It was announced today that Lady Diana Spencer and Chas are going to marry in July and this spewed out of the TV all evening; views of the ground staff at Sandringham popping champagne corks, interviews with the happy couple (which I saw three times). I’m bored already.

When the Echo arrived at five the news was splashed across the front page. As Dad was reading it I idly asked, “How much will that cost us?” Dad reacted predictably. “Oh shut up!” Of course in no time at all we were involved in a quite violent argument and he really flared up when I said that the monarchy was immoral. We argued about loads of other things apart from the monarchy. Soon enough though the sharpness softened into congenial, half-serious attacks. Mum says I’ll change. “Robert was just as communistic when he was your age.”

I was interested to see the attempted coup in Spain on TV, and I’ll have to ask Leslie Tyndall MP for Farnshaw about this tomorrow, as we are going on a school trip to the Houses of Parliament. I wonder whether it would be easy to take over Parliament? Are there any safeguards?

Five o’clock start tomorrow.

Monday, February 23, 1981

Claire Pearson and problems of the transitional epoch

My avowed intention to turn over a new leaf stands, and so I spent most of the day doing homework, doing my English for Slicer almost eagerly. All day it snowed sporadically. By teatime I'd squeezed two-and-a-third sides from the essay, and that is just what it was-squeezing. I racked my brains for a new angle on the image of Nile = decay/fertility but I just couldn’t find one. So after finishing the above I rang Duncan about it and ended up giving him all the dozen or so Nile/serpent references I'd found in Antony and Cleopatra.

After this I wrote out a chronology of events in Stalin’s life up to about 1919 and read Hingley’s Stalin . . . for an hour or so. I reached the point in January 1925 at which Trotsky relinquished his post as People’s Commissar for War and as I read about his feud with Stalin, Kamenev and Zinovyev I started to really like him, mainly for his open contempt for almost everyone, which he expressed in a sarcastic, derisive way. It was funny to picture Trotsky reading French novels at Politburo meetings and acting surprised when he was spoken to. By the time I stopped reading at about one I admired him and wanted to know more about him.

My infatuation with Claire can't be anything more because when I’m carried away with history and politics (as I am now), she seems a million miles away. Yet when I’m there, or thinking about her, it all seems so different. If it was more serious though, surely I’d be thinking about her constantly?

Sunday, February 22, 1981


I got up at eleven and did nothing all day, so much so that it’s hardly worth me writing this. Mum and Dad went out for their walk mid-afternoon and came back with a picture for the front room. It started snowing later and by six or so it had left a thin, even covering of white over everything; in parts of Derbyshire people were stranded in snow-bound cars.

I watched Everyman about El Salvador in the evening . I just can't believe Reagan actually supports the ruling junta there and he’s such a fanatical anti-communist that he supports governments which are basically fascist. It's like a disease with him, and El Salvador will end up the new Vietnam. So much for the Americans being defenders of democracy. I hate them.

Saturday, February 21, 1981

New leaf

I didn't get up until after twelve, just as Mum and Dad came back from shopping. In the afternoon, Dad and I moved all the furniture and other stuff, the television and the ornaments for the fireplace etc., back in to the front room. Robert rang at teatime. They are decorating too, and we arranged to go across in a fortnight. I felt good-natured the rest of the day.

I’m determined to turn over a new leaf work-wise and I'm going to do homework tomorrow while Mum and Dad go walking in Withenkirk. 

Friday, February 20, 1981


We watched a film first thing, sponsored by Barclays Bank and called First Day at University. This made me feel optimistic and really quite good for no particular reason, a feeling that wore off throughout English with Giles. We looked at more Eliot poems, and Giles makes it looks so easy the way he analyses them. Fifth lesson (History) was “private study,” and so we all had four free periods until half-two which we spent in the library working or reading. Everything pretty uneventful other than Claire and Deborah teasing Duncan, fondling him, stroking him and chasing him about, which went on for ages. A weird mood, everyone acting silly, playing little games and tricks on each other. Julie Carbtree told me I've changed since the beginning of the sixth year and have become “uncouth and randy” (!).

At half-past six I set off to see Arthur Miller's All My Sons at Easterby Playhouse with loads of other people from school. I met Duncan and Jeremy outside Smith’s on Queensgate; Lee had had to walk, and after he turned up at ten-past seven we all made our way across to the gloomy, seedy backstreets off Whincliffe Road and the Playhouse. The play all about, as the blurb says, a “. . . conflict between two forces, family and society, each of which is inherently good. The driving intensity of the drama centres on Joe Keller and his son Chris with their different senses of morality and attitudes to the two circles of family and society . . . .”  I thought it was pretty poorly done; the actors kept forgetting their lines and losing their corny American accents. If it had been done well I might’ve enjoyed it more, but as it was I found it a bit cardboard-y and unbelievable, and all-in-all it was a pretty wooden performance.

Afterwards, Jeremy and I went down to the Playhouse bar and met Ms. Hirst, who had been prompting in the play. We both had a pint of lager and talked to her and Mrs Slicer and her husband. I got home at elevenish or thereabouts.

Thursday, February 19, 1981

A different side

It was a pretty boring day. I look forward to school so much yet when I’m there I wonder what it is I look forward to. Because I don’t exactly do anything exciting. In English, Jeremy and Duncan gave their taped seminar, which was filled with all the usual cosmetic effects of music and jokey voices. Everyone rolled about with laughter and Hirst drooled.

At home after Art I thought about how at the moment I feel so trapped and hemmed in by my career outlook and social circumstances. I started to feel really bad; so ordinary, so boringly normal, so chronically lazy, and so very low key that it feels like I don’t really make an impression anywhere.

I stayed up late listening to Radio Moscow’s North American service on short wave. It’s interesting to hear a different side of things for once.

Wednesday, February 18, 1981

D minus

I met Claire on the way to school. She was full of embarrassed laughs because she’d had her hair cut last night. It's much shorter but I think it looks good, and it really alters her appearance. We walked to school and talked about our English essays. I’d got my satirical piece done but I still had my seminar to write up, so after a predictable assembly, we all went up to the library and worked. Of course Jeremy and Duncan are taping their seminars and have extra time as a result, and I said I thought this was unfair. Deborah agreed and J. snarked something to Deborah to the effect of “I should’ve been ill and then maybe I could’ve got it done.” This really set her off and she blasted him viciously in front of everyone. I’ve never seen her quite so angry.

I scribbled away frantically until half-twelve and Slicer’s lesson (on Enobarbus’ character traits). Then we had Hirst’s lesson. The bitch really revelled in it, picking people to read their work out and then putting them through the mincer over every little point. Sure enough, with about ten minutes to go, Lee and I were chosen. Lee waffled on OK, but I was terrible, dry-mouthed and embarrassed, and my speech lasted only a few minutes. I felt humiliated and Hirst was obviously unhappy. She kept Lee and I behind to say she’s worried about our exam prospects. She gave me a D minus which spoiled my entire day.

After school we had a magazine editorial committee meeting in the library and I got home resolving to turn over a new leaf. I read Ronald Hingley’s biography of Stalin for part of the evening, reaching the events of 1905 or thereabouts. I was quiet around Mum and Dad because I felt guilty about what happened in English. I dread to think what my report will be like.

Tuesday, February 17, 1981

“I had to hit him on the back of the head with a truncheon”

First and third periods were History and we talked about Tsarist Foreign Policy up until 1914. Second period was free and everyone sat about drinking coffee or talking. Last two periods went by quickly as they always do; I talked with Deborah until she went to her Social Work course at one, and then I rushed off my Art homework. I felt pretty low today. Deborah and I seem to really get on but I again ended up feeling annoyed at Jeremy's off-handed ways. After crawling to me last week because I went on at him he’s reverted, but it’s probably partly my fault because I’m terse with him when he’s annoying.

I had two pieces of work to do for Hirst when I got home. One was a satirical Jane Austen-style essay and the other a seminar to be delivered in class tomorrow. We've complained to Ingham about the amount of English work we get. It really is a lot more than for any other subject.

I watched the nine o'clock news with Mum (the miners are on strike over pit closures), and after Dad got home at ten we all watched Ireland: A Television History, which was about the civil rights demos of 1969. They showed a clip of riot-equipped soldiers clubbing someone to the ground with huge truncheons in the aftermath of the murder of three British soldiers. I said there was no excuse for acting like that, and soon Dad and I were exchanging violent words. Bloody predictably he made excuses, and said it was “sickening what they did to those soldiers.” I agreed, but said that the British Army dragged itself down to the IRA's level by doing things like that, at which he got really heated, and told me that sometimes as a policeman in Easterby he has had to hit people on the back of the head with a truncheon. “You’ve got a lot to learn. I’ll never accept that sort of behaviour as the norm,” he snapped, and angrily switched the television off.

I came to bed.

Monday, February 16, 1981

Which University?

Claire told me that she’d got a Valentine's card on Saturday. I asked her who it was from: "Or is that a silly question?” “It’s a silly question." I bumbled through the rest of the day. Totally uninspiring. Last period was spent chucking cushions about in the common room and I stayed behind after school to mess around in the computer area and talk to Steve, Tim Moyles and Sharon Horsfield. Sharon told me that Robin is going out with Wendy Truswell, which quite amazed me.

I felt depressed after this and couldn’t shake myself out of it until later in the evening. After watching TV, I suddenly decided to write something and so I typed out about three paragraphs of a short, sarcastic piece that is a brief history of the school magazine, filled with all the usual, clichéd rag mag stuff.

I've been looking over Which University 1980 and I’d like to do Philosophy or Politics or Political Philosophy. Mainly though, I want to do the social life.

Sunday, February 15, 1981


I got up mid morning and set off for Grant’s at noon. I walked there through Ashburn Woods and across golf-links enjoying the mild weather.

Grant ushered me in. He’s my longest standing friend really, and the one in whom I confide the most. We listened to one of his weirdo new wave LPs and he told me about the house parties he goes to with people from Hanson and that he’d ring me up the next time he went to one. We decided to walk to Hainsworth Hall and took the long way round, cutting through Ashburn and entering the park at the top end for a change. We had a cup of coffee at the café and then went upstairs to look round a predictably pop-artish exhibition of photographs, before deciding for no real reason to go down to see Lee. As we walked towards Three Locks Road I thought of what I was doing exactly a week ago, walking down this self-same road with youknowwho. Strange really, the schizophrenic way the school world of Claire and Deborah seems so remote from the world of Grant Riley and how I can’t see the two together at all, and yet I’m a part of each.

We called at an inopportune time. Lee's Mum answered and he had visitors, and was showing them those bloody home movies again, so Grant & I stood uneasily at the back of the kitchen for ten minutes before he took us out to mess about with his moped down on the wasteland. He rode it about quite proficiently and it reassured me because now I know it can’t be that difficult. Grant talked to Lee about music and his noise band--they've played a gig at Easterby Film Theatre or somewhere, and have some stuff on a demo tape of local acts which is being reviewed in Sounds soon. Lee looked so bemused I couldn’t do a thing for laughing and had tears rolling down my face.

Afterwards we sauntered back up through Lodgehill to his house and talked with his identical replica of a brother Philip and had tea and poured over a YHA guide looking for places to go in the summer. We decided on a hiking holiday in Cornwall and chose four Hostels to stay at between Tintagel and Newquay. It'll be good if it gets off the ground but somehow I have a feeling we’re being a little ambitious.

I got home at eight.

Saturday, February 14, 1981


Mum and Dad woke me up when they went out shopping at nine or so because Robert was coming round today to pick the rest of his stuff up. I lay half-awake until 9.30 when I heard a vehicle pull up outside. It was Robert, in a Ford Transit van; I helped him load it up with all the remaining boxes of books from the garage, some of which had disintegrated due to the damp. He was his usual scruffy self and in a good mood.

He stayed until eleven when Mum and Dad came back, and then I went into Easterby with Dad, who was working at two. Not a breath of wind today, just a light haze about, blurring the edges of the clouds and making them indistinct yellow smudges. I took four library books back and was fined £0.80p. Up on the Social Sciences floor I took out The Right To Useful Unemployment by Ivan Illich and Robert Hingley's Joseph Stalin: Man and Legend, and then went to Praxis where I bought a copy of the Socialist Standard and Nove’s Economic History of the USSR. I also bought new shoes, nothing outrageous. I walked home and felt really pleased for some reason.

The rest of the day passed by listening to Athletic’s 0-3 trouncing by Cross End. I watched TV in the evening and drifted to bed at about ten.

Friday, February 13, 1981


Superbly sunny again today but cold. Julie Crabtree told me that Dawn Jagger saw me and Claire at the bus stop last Sunday and asked if we were going out. In English we dissected “Sweeney Among The Nightingales” and then I went for some milk. It was really refreshing outside, the sky clear and etched with the odd yellow vapour trail or cloud, everything icy and crisp. I love days like this. We played cards and the rest of the day was pleasant and humdrum.

After school, Jeremy and Richard played tennis and I knocked a ball against the Sports Hall wall until they’d finished, and then after that I played Richard and he thrashed me 6-1, 6-0. By now the sun was really orange and it was almost like a summer’s evening. After four when we finished and then we caught the ‘bus onto Moxthorpe. They went home and I got my hair cut.

The evening was not worth mentioning. I kept thinking about Claire, about conversations we've had, about trivial, mundane everyday things, all of which my mind magnifies. I can’t help it though. I’m like Captain Benwick!

Thursday, February 12, 1981

Wildlife on One

No Claire today (or Deborah) but I remembered Claire yesterday on the coach saying “it would solve a lot of problems if I was away tomorrow.” It was really strange with neither of them around.

I had to complete two English essays, one for Slicer and one for Hirst, and also an essay for Art, but I ended up achieving nothing. Felt bored, and Lee and I decided not to go to Art College. I must start knuckling down to work. I’ve been pretty lax just lately.

Lee came to my house after school and stayed until five. The new stone fireplace is really good, which it should be for £220. Another evening of boredom, sat in front of the box in the dining room. Wildlife on One was really good.

Wednesday, February 11, 1981


It was sunny again this morning, but also bitterly cold, and there was strong frost on the school playing fields as I walked to school. We had an Ingham assembly on Aesop's Fables and then we just had time for a coffee before the coach showed up.

We all piled on and sat at the back and got to Purswell Poly at about half-ten. After milling around for a few minutes upstairs we were assigned to our various destinations. Jeremy, Lee, Duncan and I and a few girls met Mr. A. P. Butcher in the Humanities department. I liked him immediately; he really put everyone at ease. He ushered us into his tutorial room in Y-Block and told us all about the different Humanities courses offered at Purswell, but he mainly focused on the Politics course. A look at the walls of his office explained why: they were blathered in posters of Che Guevara, posters of NUM rallies, and posters touting French communism. We found this quite amusing, but I found myself getting really taken with the idea of a politics course, and was even more pleased when Butcher told us that in his opinion there was no difference between polytechnic and university courses: "I think we offer better courses, if anything." He went on to say that once you’d started, it was virtually impossible to fail a degree course. "Your best friend is your examiner,” he told us. Now I feel that Political Philosophy (or perhaps Oriental Studies), is the course for me.

At twelve we had our sandwiches and then Claire, Evelyn and Christine and I waited around until half-one and our next venue, which was Teacher Training. Our tour of the Teacher Training department was really quite off-putting. When we said that we were doing English and History at ‘A’-level, we were greeted with hoots of laughter and a “hard luck, hee-hee” attitude, which was pretty depressing. Why didn’t they tell us Arts students are really going to have such bad prospects when we chose our subjects? The tour of this department was pretty dull and I’m glad I’m not hooked on teaching. After a quick coffee we were back on the coach.

Jeremy, Lee and Duncan came to my house afterwards, and we listened to records and just sat about in my bedroom and they left at five-ish. It would be a nightmarish situation if Duncan or Jeremy got hold of this diary! It doesn’t stand thinking about!

All evening Mum and Dad were moving things from the living room upstairs into Andrew’s room, because tomorrow morning we’re having the new fireplace installed, and then they’re redecorating.

Tuesday, February 10, 1981

No nukes, sort of

I got in really early, just after eight. Superbly sunny, but quite cold. Frost on the ground. After an uneventful school day characterised by my distance from people, we had a school magazine editorial committee meeting in the 6th form library.

The meeting was quite well attended (thirteen of us there) and, towards the end, Mr. Barkston showed up as well. We discussed what was to be included in the magazine and decided on a number of ex-5th years who we'll interview about their lives after school and so on. I have to interview Craig Bateson and Simon Dyson about how they’ve found working life. The meeting was amicable and I quite enjoyed it.

Art College went OK; we’re doing colour studies of still life, and I got home at 6.30. I half-intended going to this CND meeting and although Jeremy and Lee didn't want to go, I just set off by myself at ten-past seven, not really thinking about it. By half-past I sat uneasily in the lounge of the Windmill pub in Moxthorpe.

The meeting was held in a corner of the pub and conducted very informally. There were about thirty people present, some from school and some typical middle-aged/elderly “protest” types, but generally it was quite a cross-section. Right from the start I wasn’t keen on the general atmosphere of the meeting, which began with a pro-Soviet tirade from Alan Victor of Keddon, who is a veteran of the Aldermaston marches. He minimised the Soviet threat, and made a few statements which were wrong:
  1. Western fear of Soviet Russia is that it is trying to export communism whereas a communist revolution comes about internally and cannot be exported. True, but Russia isn’t communist or Marxist, so it doesn’t apply.
  2. The Russian people, because of their remembrance of the Second World War are not warlike. This is also true but it’s surely never a people who go to war, only their governments. 
I still believe in CND because it’s morally right to want the abolition of nuclear weapons, and this has nothing to do with either a pro-Soviet or a pro-Western viewpoint. I found the general quality of the meeting pretty predictable and quite off-putting. The next meeting is on Monday Feb 23rd at the Trades Hall in Farnshaw and as I left the embryonic Farnshaw CND branch stood about in little groups talking.

I got home at half-nine and came to bed two hours later. We're going to Purswell Polytechnic tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 1981


It was another pretty unremarkable and boring day, and I struggled with a general feeling of insignificance. In Assembly first thing I got a mention for Saturday’s rugby efforts. Barkston read out the match reports and said that I’d played “excellently” which made me feel really pleased, but then when I think about it, I bet that it is just Farrar’s way of making me want to play regularly. For the first two periods I made half-hearted attempts to write up my debate speech for tonight but inevitably, what with the distractions all around, I got nothing done. Deborah was away and during first period Lee and I went into Gilthwaite to buy milk, sugar, coffee, etc. Sleet and rain. Lee, Duncan and Jeremy looked a real set today; Lee was wearing a red velvet bowtie, Jeremy his canary-yellow jumper and Duncan a pair of ridiculous baggy velour trousers. In the afternoon I wrote up a (pretty average) speech on the reasons for abolishing the monarchy, the immorality of wealth inequality, etc., and I managed to get around two hundred words.

Debating Society was quite well attended for once, and before we began Mr. Scott put forward the issues I’d raised with him on Friday, that we needed to elect a President and a Secretary and keep records of all the debates. Jeremy, Robin Quinn and Steve were nominated for President and Jeremy was elected with 15 votes. Steve got 2 and Robin 0. Steve was nominated unopposed for Secretary. The debates went OK, Ingham commending everyone on the quality of their papers. Throughout all the pro’s and cons I sat without opening my mouth and we voted 12 to 9 with one abstention to abolish the monarchy. This was my fourth debate and I’ve won one, lost one and two have been undecided. It turned out to be quite a successful alternative to “Sex is For Adults Only” after all. I got home after 4 and could only sit and think about Michael B and Tony Megson down at No. 55 with Claire.

At eight I was asleep on my bed when the ‘phone rang and Mum woke me. It was Grant Riley, and he asked me if I fancied going Youth Hosteling in the summer as he “couldn’t face” another holiday with his parents. I said OK and also arranged to go across to his house on Sunday at 1. Tomorrow there’s a CND meeting at the Windmill in Moxthorpe, and Jeremy, Lee and I plan on going.

Sunday, February 8, 1981

Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, etc.

I set off for Moxthorpe just after eleven and as I walked up Beatrice Avenue and rang the bell of No. 55 I felt tied up inside, probably with excitement. Within a few minutes, Claire came down and opened the door.

Claire and I sat in the living room, uneasily at first, and I exchanged routine words with her Dad, who made the usual comments about my height (“watch out for the ceiling, heh, heh!"). So boringly predictable. After forty minutes we left.

We took the bus and got off at the stone sheds at Woodhead Park and then walked down to Gladden Road. Lee saw us as we approached and waved and shortly we were sitting in his front room drinking coffee. We spent most of the afternoon up in his third floor attic bedroom playing cards and watching some of his old films. Quite enjoyable. Duncan came at about two and we had some cheesey-tomato fried things and coffee downstairs before he left around half-four. For the next hour Claire talked to Mrs. Hoy.

It was throwing it down at six so Mrs. Hoy gave us a lift back. I did enjoy it but I can't escape my pathetic insecure thoughts about what Claire thinks of me and what I do. Dad kept on baiting me when I got back; nudge-nudge, wink-wink etc., and I felt worse.

I rang Jeremy at teatime about this debate tomorrow, and really feel as if I can't be bothered with it. I’ll have to write my speech up tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 1981


Dad woke me up at seven-thirty and I set off for school an hour-and-a-quarter later. All the Rakesburn lot were already there, and soon Andy rolled up. I was surprised to see Ingham was refereeing the match. I think he was more surprised to see me and he seemed quite taken aback that I was actually playing rugby. Gradually everyone arrived and after changing and everything we were down on the pitch for half-past nine. I was again playing at No. 5. I felt much easier.

The opposition was really quite small and we had no difficulty opening them up. Abbott eventually got a try and Briscoe missed the conversion so the score was 5-0 at half-time. I did better than on previous occasions  – sometimes I even got the ball. I felt really pleased when I managed to pass it over to David McCall and occasionally I found myself with the ball. I ran for a gap before I was hurled violently to the ground. The second half went OK; we scored two more tries and a penalty, making it 18-0 at full time. I spewed up shortly before the end, but carried on and felt better. It must be because I’m not used to it.

Then, in the final minute of the match, I pushed into a loose scrum and everyone fell over; I caught my right leg, and I felt it wrench. Agony! Ingham helped me up and I hopped as far as the path at the edge of the pitch before I fell over. My calf had seized up and the pain was unrelenting. Some of the players and staff massaged my calf and pried my foot back into its normal position. My calf was taut and it still aches as I'm writing this. I must’ve done it some damage. In retrospect I must’ve looked like a real berk, and perhaps I overreacted in a way. After the match, people kept saying I was getting better and had played well and I quite enjoyed it I suppose. Somehow I get the impression I’ll start being relied on, and if so, I will have to start going to training.

I got back home after eleven and Mum and Dad came back with Nanna P. an hour or so later, and I spent all afternoon just sat watching TV, half-intending to go into Easterby and have my hair cut.

Tonight I’ll continue reading Sabine’s History of Political Philosophy, a massive 930-page book that I pretend to myself I’ll read all the way through but I bet I don’t, because the middle of the book is about turgid Mediaeval Church/King politics. I read Chapter 1 on Thursday and Chapter 2 about Athens and the City states etc. last night. It’s quite interesting.

No doubt about what I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

Friday, February 6, 1981


It was another mundane day. During registration we had a debate on nuclear fuel. Proposing that nuclear fuel was dangerous was Robin Quinn, who was seconded by Jeremy. Their opponents were Steve and Peter Wood and the speeches were OK. Response was virtually nil and there were only a couple of questions before Elson had to wind the thing up. Steve was thrashed getting only 3 votes – Robin got about 30 or 40 and there were six abstentions.

First two periods passed in the FE Lounge watching a black and white French comedy from the ‘fifties; quite amusing, and then everyone trekked up to the common room for our obligatory coffee etc.. We played cards, I lost twice, and it was another stereotypical free period, never getting beneath the surface with people. Jeremy made more conciliatory moves today. He must be really sorry for what happened.

During our free periods Jeremy and I rushed around trying to get this "Sex" debate changed. I really don’t want to do it–not through any fear of public opinion but because I think it’d be virtually impossible to defend. We dragged Andrew Boyd out of RE to talk about it, much to Kirkwood’s annoyance. We also talked to Mrs. Charters and Mr Scott, who said he was “disappointed in me” and thought I was “mature enough to debate it in an abstract fashion.”. As a substitute debate topic, we got Slicer to second Boyd in opposing Jeremy and I in saying the Monarchy should be abolished. It's boring and run-of-the-mill I know, but at least I’ll know what I’m talking about with that.

After History and after school, Mr Scott and Laura came up to the common room to find out what was happening. I told them the whole story, and Scott again said that he was disappointed in me. I tried to tell him that that immaturity wasn’t the reason (“honestly!”) and he said not to worry and that it would’ve been easy to argue it. He seemed to like my idea about presenting a person at the end of each year with a Debating Society prize. Oh, and Farrar accosted me third period and asked me to play rugby for the school tomorrow. I reluctantly agreed.

Christ, I feel really hemmed in by circumstances again this weekend, what with rugby and this debate. I’m looking forward to going to Lee’s on Sunday however because I’m calling round for Claire and going with her on the bus – alone!! (gasp!). How utterly corny can you get !!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 1981

Butterfly Dreams

It was quite boringly normal at school. I got in early; Jeremy ignored me so I ignored him. In the library we all did our English for Slicer, everyone tactfully trying to escape from Tommy, who never stops talking. A totally conformist day. I'm so annoyed because somehow I’ve been dragged into this debate “Sex is for Adults Only." I’m opposing the motion, but it’ll be virtually impossible. What will people think? Towards the end of school, Jeremy made conciliatory approaches.

After school, Lee and I watched The Seven Samurai, a black-and-white Japanese film which was quite good but went on a bit too long. I had no homework in the evening so I watched TV or played records upstairs. At this moment I’m listening to “Butterfly Dreams” on Stan’ Clarke’s Children of Forever LP which is so superb.


In assembly Mr. Elson showed us a video about political parties and then we went up to the library. I volunteered to go buy some milk and biscuits from the shop in Gilthwaite. The weather was once again so superb, with clear skies and the low sun giving everything a clean, cold, fresh look about it. Lee, Claire, Deborah and I played cards (“Newmarket” and “Cheat”) but Ingham kept coming in and we had to hide them & after three attempts only managed to complete one game. It was all quite jolly!

Meanwhile Jeremy was in the library and soon in scurried Duncan to tell us J. was writing corny notes in his dairy and showing them to everyone, things such as “Martindale infers ‘love’ for Pearson” and “Paul and Deborah make such a lovely pair," so of course I stormed in to the library and blasted him for his “shitty little insinuations” and didn’t speak to him after that. I don’t understand him. I wonder what Claire and Deborah thought!? Later in English, I wished I was outside in the sun rather than cooped up listening to such turgid goings on.

When I got home Dad was asleep in the living room. I went up into my bedroom and did all my English homework from eight o’clock until half-past twelve. I wrote my Persuasion essay and completed one of my pieces for Slicer. The big rift at school today Why?? Jeremy was such a bastard!

Tuesday, February 3, 1981


Nothing really happened, but I struggled with that old familiar feeling of conflicting emotions; that’s the only way I know how to describe it. I arranged to go to Lee’s house on Sunday with everyone else. Claire asked me if I’d call round for her and show her where Lee lives because otherwise “I’d have to go on my own and I don’t want to.” I live for these little comments. Pathetic. Later on, I was frustrated to hear that Lee’s Mum will only allow four of us at a time in her house.

Nothing else happened worth writing about. When I got home after Art College at half-six, I felt really weary, and slept in the chair all evening. The News sickened me; I'm filled with feelings of helplessness and desperation when I hear that Reagan’s lot want to start up the Neutron Bomb again or when one of his advisors says that the US is considering bringing in castration for rapists!!!! Civilisation’s a wonderful thing!

Monday, February 2, 1981


Lots more trivial little incidents today to set my puerile mind racing and my heart thudding. Claire came in to the common room towards the end of the first period. She was in a flighty mood and I asked here where she had been first period. “Why? Did you miss me?” I didn’t know how to react to that. Duncan told me that Tony went up to Deborah’s on Saturday; not a word from her as he told everyone. By this time he and Jeremy were really getting on my wick, so I spent much of period two on my own in the common room reading a newspaper. In History I had to grovel to Mr. Ingham about Friday, and he told me that we’d be given the test either tomorrow or Wednesday. We are still on Stalin and his preparations for the Communist Party purges of the ‘thirties. Nothing much doing all day, and the last period passed in utter and absolute boredom.

After school I stopped behind with Jeremy, Tommy and Richard and we devised a calendar showing dummy dates for the magazine that we can duplicate and give to the members of the Editorial Committee. Immediately afterwards, at ten-to-four, I went into Easterby with £18 to buy some new shoes but my predictable lack of confidence and pathetic worries about peoples' opinions meant that although I looked at six or seven different shoe shops, I only tried on one pair (they were too narrow), and I came home empty handed.

In the evening I watched “The Troubles” about the aftermath of Bloody Friday in the early ‘seventies. One bit really shocked me: bodies, wrapped incongruously in sacking, humped about by soldiers. I was horrified at this – a soldier shoveling up pieces of quivering, raw human flesh with a spade, emptying them into a plastic bag. I felt cold inside.

Sunday, February 1, 1981

Well away

After much cajoling from Dad, I got up at about nine, and after collecting together all of Robert’s records and boxes of plates etc. (and, of course, the cat), we set off to his new house at Saxton, near Dearnelow.

The weather was superb, the sun bright in a clear blue sky although the colours were a little washed out into whites and yellows. We piled all the stuff in the boot and on the back seat and I sat in the back with George on my knee; he was quite frightened by all the commotion as we drove eastwards on the M62 and then south on the M1, eventually turning off  and driving through quiet countryside to Saxton, where we arrived at around half-eleven. The cat crapped all over in the car just as we got there.

Robert and Carol's house is an ex-council house near the Church and War Memorial. Robert had a record on when we got in; Mum was there, and Carol too, and everyone seemed happy. The house was light and roomy inside, with one main room separated by an archway, and Carol gave us a guided tour. There's three bedrooms total, with one bathroom/toilet. It's nothing spectacular but it's a good house; they’ve done a lot of cleaning. George was really anxious, rushing around the rooms mewing loudly.

Carol cooked us chicken and roast potatoes and afterwards we all went for a walk around Saxton, which is pretty small, just an austere conglomeration of farms, houses and the odd garage or two. You can walk through it in about five minutes, which we did until we reached the end of the houses one way, and then came back the other way before we wandered up a narrow footpath over the fields a little way. It was warm for February, like spring. Robert kept saying he couldn’t believe they were actually living there and joked that he was envious of himself. There are plenty of bird-watching areas and footpaths, and even a local infant school for Carol. They’re both well away there, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they start a family within a couple of years.

We got back to the house at 2.45 and Mum, Dad, and I left to drive back just after three. We had the usual predictable cock-up in the centre of Ferscliffe, which is criminally planned. There are no signs, arrows, or anything.

I finally started my essay at nine thirty and finished four hours later. It's two-and-a-bit sides long.
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