Monday, May 31, 1982

Life and death

Yet another day to add to my immense ‘I did nothing’ list. I am so so weak-willed, lethargic and lazy. Do I want to pass these exams or not? I don't deserve anything for my piteous, sloth-like stagnant ways.

Lee called round at one hinting that he needed help in retrieving a vital Geography file locked up at school: he’d tried ringing the caretaker but he was out, so he clambered up onto the school roof with a screwdriver while I lounged on the grass “keeping watch.” It was sultry, overcast and hot. We were both amazed at how easy it was for him to gain entry, drop in and climb out again. School almost deserves a burglary.

In the South Atlantic, 16 marines are dead in an attack on Goose Green and Port Darwin. It’s so unreal. As we live out our undisturbed existences, barely ruffled by death, out there in the Falklands all those men are suddenly dropped into it. Bang! It’s war. The Argentine Air Force are mounting brave but suicidal attacks with a 60% loss rate.

The Pope greeted by joyous scenes in Liverpool, York, and Edinburgh. Who said religion was on the way out?

I haven’t done a stroke of work since Mum and Dad left on Saturday.

Sunday, May 30, 1982

The sickness of apathy

It was another hot day. Grant came mid-afternoon just as I was finishing watering everything outside. We passed our time in predictable fashion, playing records and talking. Grant laughed as the Art Ensemble screeched and squawked, his red shiny face split by a yellow-tooth grin. We lounged in the front room in the sun, watching the tortoise (he kept calling it a “turtle”) and drinking cider. I felt quite light and eye-loose and Grant said he felt the same.

He stayed until nine-ish. Lee came round an hour or so before he left.

I didn't do any work again. The sickness of apathy. I’d better start thinking about Poly’s.

Saturday, May 29, 1982

Kicker boots

Mum and Dad went on holiday to a Calverdale caravan this morning. Everything was bright and sparkly sun-warm as they left and I felt sad about not going, about being marooned alone for a week. It’s at these times of self-indulgent pity and loneliness that this diary comes into its own. These words are safe, knowable and offer a tangible link with all that's gone. . . .

Simon and Grant rang: Simon invited me to his place to help consume a 72-pint £30 barrel of Tetley’s; Grant juts wanted to talk, but he’s coming over tomorrow afternoon.

I set off for Simon’s at quarter-to-eight and bought four bottles of cider on the way. There were a handful of people at his house–Geoff Dixon, Sean Tracey, Philip Barker and a young teenage kicker-booted girl. Simon was there with his friend Darren Hawksworth, the latter in battered, embroidered flared jeans, sweatshirt, beads, his face sharp and hidden behind long dark hair. He was quiet, unassuming and easy to get on with, and he's a jazz-rock fan. He recommended Brand X's Livestock. I ran back home and got a few records and we listened to them and drank and talked and then set off to Moxthorpe for a Chinese. We were loud and anti-social on the way down, screaming and shouting and making comments to innocent bewildered (and annoyed) passers-by.

By midnight only me, Simon and Darren were left, tired and sleepy and trying in vain to think of people to ring up to invite round.

Friday, May 28, 1982

On having no head

I was supposed to meet Lee outside the library at ten but he didn’t turn up. I left after getting out On Having No Head by D. E. Harding and walked back home along Musgrove Road, hemmed in on one side by the dark grimy façade of Hardwick’s Mill, on the other by a long decaying row of shop frontages, litter strewn pavement, here and there piles of rubble. A certain something about Lockley, a rawness, an unflinching honesty, almost as if the true heart of the city can be seen and judged and experienced there. No pretence; these places fascinate me.

In the afternoon Mum and Dad drove me to the Tesco in Nunstead for my job ‘interview’ which took place in a white sterile office with flickering neons high above the brightly lit supermarket aisles visible through a wide one-way mirror window. I had to wait with a pitsy butterfly feeling in my stomach, my heart thudding, a constant bustle in the office corridors outside, doors squeaking open and shut incessantly.

In comes Mr. Brace–mid thirties, balding, neatly-suited, hard no-nonsense features, clipped tones—and at first he seemed a bit hesitant about the job offer because I’ll be leaving in October and “we like to make sure people will be here a minimum of 6 months.” He was about to leave it at that but suddenly asked me to come in next Wednesday at 4.45. “Mrs. Wilson recommended you in preference to other candidates . . .” Fourteen quid a week.

At home, over tea, I was suddenly filled with gloom and depression at the the thought of my future. I don’t know why. Mum: “It’ll all turn out alright, lad.”

I did a bit of work in the evening and at ten nipped down to Harvey’s for Carol Lancaster’s 18th birthday party. Lee was there in trilby and bowling trousers and round dark specs. I didn’t stay long: Claire glided around before me, a faint echo of the past. . . .

Thursday, May 27, 1982

General studies

My first ‘real’ ‘A’-level, General Studies in two installments. Paper one was from nine to twelve with the hardest sections on maths and languages. I was mostly just guessing and answered a question about communications changes in the last 400 years.

During the hour break I rang Tesco: the Saturday job was gone, and only the three-evenings-a-week position was left, so I arranged to see ‘em tomorrow. Then back for the next three hours of the exam.

I enjoyed answering multiple choice questions and writing the essays on the arts; I wrote one on modern ‘classics,' choosing Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, Lichtenstein’s Wham!, and Kerouac’s On The Road. The other essay addressed whether Hitler was a “great man.”

Mum and Dad were in a good mood and went out for a walk leaving me to watch the Cup Final Replay. Peter and Tim interrupted me and nagged me into going to the Rising Sun. We stopped round at Simon Dyson's before the pub (he was all muscle bound), and spent a crude evening watching the end of the Final in the TV room. Spurs won 1-0. We bought fish & chips on the way home and called back at Simon’s to ogle his £130 Fender bass.

Wednesday, May 26, 1982

Funhouse flak

Dad gave me a lift into Easterby and I waited in the car down Buckingham Road while he went to the bank. All around me, Lockley’s demolished desolation. Dozens of starlings shrieked and screamed nearby, fluttering around a black bin liner on the pavement. An old man ambling by stopped, picked up the bag and, placing it on a nearby hump of rubble, tenderly tore open the plastic, exposing the decaying meaty morsels to the sky.

In Easterby I bought Reese and the Smooth Ones by the Art Ensemble of Chicago and another blank book for my journal before catching the bus home. I nearly bought Kafka’s The Trial.

The album is OK, especially Side One, but the “Funhouse Flak”  is a little too prolonged for my liking. You have to see them live.

HMS Coventry has been sunk: 20 dead, a sort of serious tragic-pessimism over everything, Mum's heavy desperate sighs.

I watched Villa win the European Cup 1-0 in a pretty exciting match. A magnificent sunset tonight: Dad called me out to see the houses bathed deep yellow, the sky gold across the dark horizon, pale eggshell greens fading to distant wistful summery dust-golden blues, blurred bands of hazy cloud, lit coppery orange from beneath, troughs deep blue-grey.

Tuesday, May 25, 1982


The riots, egg-fights, unbridled revelries, celebrations, etc., half threatened all week, seemed distant in the morning. I knocked all three lessons today and a lot of other people seemed to be doing the same; we all sat about bored. Claire was away again. I haven’t seen her since last Tuesday.

In the afternoon the promised commotion materialised. There was a water fight, someone crushed an egg over Robin Quinn’s head, and large gangs of 7th years wandered around school causing ‘trouble.’ It was corny in a way, but things turned savage when Robin beat up Steve and busted his specs. The afternoon culminated in a last dismal and gloomy Art theory revision session which most missed, then home. Goodbye everybody. School over for me for ever. After the exams I’ll never see any of ‘em ever again. . . .

When I got home Dad said that a Mrs. Wilson from Tesco had rung up to ask if I’d like to work three weekday evenings or a Saturday and would I ring back to arrange a “little interview”?

In the Falklands, another ship sunk. At Wembley, England beat Holland 2-0 to a chorus of “Argentina, Argentina, what’s it like to lose the war?”

Monday, May 24, 1982

I have been here before

Art exam, part 3. I finished with an hour to spare and was actually quite pleased with the outcome. Mrs. Blakeborough gave it a vote of confidence.

I slobbed around the rest of the day, lazing in the workroom and bemoaning everything to Deborah and Steve and really not wanting to think about Mr. G's suggestion that I start on Poly applications. It's all too much, the whole hassle of interviews, forms to fill, etc.

I got home at four-ish and I’m wanting to say something about the ending of school, the closing of one era, the beginning of another, but what can I say but to relate Deborah’s comments: “This’ll be the last time I ever walk up this road”; “this’ll be the last time I stay behind at school.”

I watched John Nott on Panorama and I was suddenly struck by this thought. The rights, views and liberty of those 1800 Falkland Islanders is now of paramount importance and worth so much blood, but what of before? Last year they were begging for something more than HMS Endurance as defence but the government couldn’t give a shit; they were conveniently forgettable. But now the whims of these 1800 Favoured Few are magically granted. What about the other minorities back in Britain whose collective wishes might differ from those of Her Majesty's Government? What about the millions in Scotland who want independence? What about the thousands of British people who want a different way of life and society? It’s obvious they don't count. The whole situation stinks.

Maybe I’m just naïve. Mum says she's frightened and has a premonition that this conflict will escalate. “I hope to goodness I’m wrong.”

In the evening we watched J.B. Priestley’s I Have Been Here Before and it was excellent. It echoed everything I’ve been thinking about but took it further. Lives progress in circles or spirals that are doomed to repeat again and again unless, at the little crossroads and diversions, the knowledge gained in a previous cycle is used to break the pattern and a start a new branch.

We switched the TV off for the usual discussion, which I so much enjoy, and our words hinted at ideas so far away from the talks I have at school: passing feelings, intense but always fleeting, unexpected in mundane moments, feelings that I've been, done and felt all this before and that somehow, somewhere, all things fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Individual redundancies, universal eternities where “life endures,” and everyone grows old and dies, but the mind remains young and suddenly – a glimpse in a mirror, a reflection of a face – the shock and sadness that age is with you, that those others on the street with graying hair and middling figures; that's you.

The end of one era, the beginning of another.

Sunday, May 23, 1982

Ha ha ha

We all went to watch the Easterby Marathon runners as they straggled through Farnshaw at ten or so, the leader clear on his own followed by a handful of runners, then bigger bobbing groups which took minutes to pass, then ordinary inept joggers half walking in the rear. Robert was enthusiastic and half vowed to enter it next year. Dad almost hinted at it too.

We had a drink in a pub and walked back home in a steady downpour.

Robert and Carol left mid-afternoon. Mum and Dad went to Heber and I stayed home to ‘work.’ Ha ha ha. So calm, a fortnight now. . . .

Saturday, May 22, 1982

Cup Final

Mum and Dad had gone to Knowlesbeck when I got up at 11. I'm sickened by the Daily Mail’s blood and guts drum-beating: “God-speed To our Fighting Heroes,” “The British Are Back!” etc. Dad might be right when he says that Satan is abroad in this country: he's alive and well and living under the guise of patriotism and nationalism, the ‘them’ and ‘us’ rhetoric. In reality it's only ‘them,’ the faceless grey people who blunder, miscalculate and exhort the innocent to go off and die for their mistakes. Why do the teeming masses support them with even more callous jingoism? The public must be so shallow.

Sometimes I feel so frustrated. What's the point?

Robert and Carol arrived early afternoon to watch the Cup Final in colour. The game wasn't very distinguished although it was quite exciting at first, but the open end-to-end football soon degenerated into incoherent and structureless play. Near the end Spurs turned on the style, and overall they were better, QPR looking completely outclassed. Extra-time for the second season running, both sides attacking, Hoddle giving Spurs the lead with a few minutes to go but Fenwick equalising minutes later.

The news from the Falklands again dominates everything: thousands of British troops ashore, HMS Ardent has been sunk with twenty lost, film of Marines chatting to ‘liberated’ Falkland islanders, Thatcher, odious and sugar-voiced, her face looming into the camera. “Our troops were magnificent.”

Robert mouthed off about his opposition to the war, how he admires the bravery of conscientious objectors and Tony Benn, and his belief that the Ministry of Defence is lying. Dad's classed apart now, and being in the same room with him during the news, especially with Robert here, is fraught with tension and suspense. He really has got worse.

Gloom again, somehow.

I got my grades for my ‘A’ level mocks: A 'C' in Art, 'E' in English, 'D' in History and a 'C' in General Studies. This lead to a depressing conversation with Mum about my Uni. prospects. She's pessimistic about finances and says I'll be poor. . . .

Friday, May 21, 1982


That so familiar end of term feeling prevailed all day and I again wore my “tasteless” garb: initial hysterics but everyone soon settled down. People are doing so much work, and some claim six or seven hours a night. Grant says he's doing 3 hrs a night. Me? I never do a thing. It's so near, but so late.

News flashes and programme interruptions all evening. Two British deaths from a ditched helicopter, bloody battles raging in an East Falklands bridgehead, more SAS-style raids involving a thousand soldiers, heavy Argentinian air-raids on the Task Force (five British ships damaged, two seriously), fourteen Argentinian planes shot down. Total losses: British, forty five; Argentinians, four hundred-plus. There’ll be a lot more after today.

There's been so much depression in this house of late, and Mum and Dad are at each other continually. Dad got back from Nanna B's and it was niggle niggle niggle all night, a stranglehold of utter bitterness and utter depression! God, I cannot WAIT to get away and escape.

Thursday, May 20, 1982

Do your own thing

A depressing day. The dull overcast and humidity reflected my feelings.

I stayed in bed and went to school late. I wore my new tight pinstripe trousers, a green T-shirt and the green and brown checked waistcoat I got from Lee. This caused great interest and even disbelief at school. I had to go into Hirst's class to collect something from Deborah: Hirst was unable to get over my “outfit” and held me up like an exhibit, saying that what I wore reminded her of the late ’sixties vogue for completely tasteless clothing. Lee showed up in bleached and blotched brown trousers with elasticated ankles: he said I looked like an “outcast Pigbagger.”

I didn't stay at school long and when I got home I laid on my bed beset by confused thoughts, disliking the hassle I'd just gone through.

The situation in the South Atlantic is now grave. Diplomatic negotiations have broken down and the last glimmers of hope seem to have gone. It's now a war situation. After dark, I got embroiled in the usual post-News At Ten argument with Dad. There's a complete and total opposition between us in terms of our thinking. My voice rises querulously and monotonously, and his face assumes that typical and so familiar “upset hang-dog” look, exasperated and frustrated at his inability to express himself. He's so right-wing and really has become worse in the last year or two.

Mum sits to one side knitting, her face lined, her mouth sagging in despair. “It’s so boring . . . every night . . . ” etc. She gives Dad an occasional long and fathoming look, as if she’s mindful of all the things she told me yesterday (almost in tears, confessing her fears for the future, her fears that Dad will become more extreme and cantankerous as he ages).

I suddenly had a vision of them in years to come, Mum with the same resigned look, Dad with the same fanatical monologues, sighs, and polemics about “sickness in society,” homosexuals, “do your own thing” and on and on. . . . Mum will be the one to sit and suffer in martyr-silence while he rages on, yet her world will be so bound up with his that there'll be no other way, no possibility but to endure.

Wednesday, May 19, 1982

Looks and smiles

At school today I felt a lot more contented than of late. I deliberately missed History and apart from Slicer’s lesson (lounging lazily in the grass near the bus-turning circle not really responding to Sohrab and Rustum), I spent the day in the workroom talking with Deborah, Steve, and Duncan.

Lee came in mid-morning to bring me my Rip Rig and Panic 12” back and a long sleeved green and brown checked waistcoat I'm buying from him (it's ace). Deborah seemed highly amused at this, saying she didn’t know whether to laugh at or admire us.

I rang Grant in the evening and we had a long enjoyable conversation about the usual: last August (“we should’ve got drunk”), house parties, The Atrocity Exhibition, and his plans to mess about with tape recorders doing a thing Burroughs suggests in The Job. He wants to write more.

Afterwards I watched Ken Loach's Looks and Smiles.

Tuesday, May 18, 1982


More Art from nine until twelve and today I really got down to painting with oils. By the time we’d finished I was about 2/3 done. I’m quite pleased with the way it's turning out.

I came out of the exam’ feeling the usual positive optimism but this was soon strangled by staleness, boredom and inactivity. I got involved in a childish and boring water fight with Steve, got totally soaked, and as I was mopping up the water barefoot I hated everything. Other people see this shitty infantile behaviour as the be-all of my character, as Me instead of what it is: the superficial façade of a bored, insecure mind.

I rounded off yet another exciting day in the workroom getting really bugged by Peter and Steve. And I still haven’t done any bloody work!

Monday, May 17, 1982

War with the newts

I had the first three hours of the Art practical from 9:30 to 12:30 and for once I’d actually prepared properly. I was quite looking forward to painting; I got the colours blocked in with acrylics and had just begun with oils when our time was up. I really got into it and if I work hard it could be really good.

Lee came round afterwards and I played him my Ornette Coleman LP which he quite liked. After much embarrassment and evasion he also confessed to ringing up Jill Davey on Saturday for a date.

Dad brought home two newts, attractive with their orange and black blotched legs and green bodies. "They're specimens of Triturus cristatus carnifex. It's an Italian subspecies of the Great Crested Newt. I bought them so they’ll mate."

He didn’t get the warden job but didn’t seem too upset over it.

Sunday, May 16, 1982

Over and over

In the morning, with the house quiet (Dad on earlies, Nanna P. slumbering peacefully upstairs) Mum and I got around to talking about Dad. He's like two different people: one is nature-loving and peaceful, but the other is a zealous jingoistic warmonger. It’s almost like he's  schizophrenic.

The reason for our discussion was another argument last night, in which Dad was totally unable to understand our point of view. It was incredible. Mum was virtually agreeing with my pseudo-anarchistic opinions and when I said that the only difference between Argentinians and Britons are their respective governments, she backed me up, endorsing my view point for once. Yet when Dad bellowed “Well what would YOU do?” I was stuck. I don't know, and I'm totally unable to provide “constructive criticisms.”

This is what's confusing about the whole thing. I'm opposed to the system but can’t think of anything better–well I can, but it always sounds so incredibly way out I dare not say anything.

I worked on my first art composition for tomorrow, drawing an abstract piece which I quite like, and I’m looking forward to the exam’ now. I listened to Ornette Coleman over and over again all day: it's really good.

Saturday, May 15, 1982


Today was slightly depressing for some reason. The weather is still awful: muggy, uncomfortable, and hot. I got up early but didn’t leave for Easterby until afternoon. Uncle Kenneth brought Nanna P. round before I left and she's been burping non-stop all day.

I wandered around town with £7 in my pocket, browsing at Christian Aid shops, Praxis, a second hand bookshop, and tried on a baggy silvery grey suit (£10.95) at Suits Me. At Praxis I was drawn to a guide to psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms, which enhance colours and heighten sensory perceptions, but fear of discovery stopped me from buying it. I ended up buying an LP instead; it was a toss up between Ornette Coleman and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. I finally plumped for Coleman's Of Human Feelings and I'll get Free Jazz when I feel more confident.

I got home feeling fed up and bored with everything. My album is OK.

Friday, May 14, 1982

Avatar for the Aquarian age

It was pleasant at school. Hirst was holding a lesson for her other class outside so Jeremy and I dropped in, and as we wandered away Gillian Pugh, Halina and Laura swept round the bus-turning circle in the former’s car. Within minutes we were driving in almost unbearable heat towards Moxthorpe.

We dropped Halina off and Gillian drove us to her house, which is a huge mansion-like place up near Briar Avenue. We went in, she borrowed £10, and we piled into the car again and called at The Rising Sun, where I had a pint of cider. Gillian seems like a nice person. She's quiet and well-spoken but confesses she “hates” her life of rich parents and cocktail parties. We talked about Christiane F and some foreign film about gays before cramming into the car and heading back to school.

I saw a man on TV claim that the ‘Lord Christ Maitreya’ will reveal himself to the world by telepathy at the end of next month. He was so utterly convinced of this it was almost frightening.

Dad got home at 10 and seems optimistic about his chances after his job interview (warden and environmental officer for Liphill estate), but he's apprehensive and unsure of his ability to cope.

Thursday, May 13, 1982


Our Art practical exam’ begins on Monday and Mr. Hine wants to check our progress beforehand so I spent most of the day drawing in the garden. I’ve gone back to the clothes line/washing question but my drawing was abstract and confusing and I ended up with a headache.

Art was OK except for the stifling sticky heat. When I got home I'd intended to work and even declined a walk with Mum & Dad but (infuriatingly typical), I fell asleep instead.

Wednesday, May 12, 1982

Creature feature

It was another hot day. School was mundane (Conrad a bit better), and Peter gave me a lift home. Dad and I went to visit Hopegate Countryside Centre, but beforehand I had to endure another of his ratchety right-wing soundings off over the “unpatriotic” BBC. We set off in a slightly irritable mood, but this was soon forgotten as we drove in sun towards the brown shimmering bulk of Keddon Moor.

The Countryside Centre was full of crystal clear aquariums containing leeches, toad and frog tadpoles, newts, dragonfly nymphs, and diving beetles. It's run by a young fair-haired and earnest faced woman and her bearded husband and she was really enthusiastic. She pointed out the various features of the creatures in the tanks, obviously not expecting us to know much about them: the Queen in the bee case, a superb, large ponderous green and orange Oriental newt. She told us that the diving beetles require live tadpoles or bloodworms as food. Dad scrounged  a few Marsh frog tadpoles.

As we drove home I yearned to be off across wild desolate hills.

Tuesday, May 11, 1982

No fun

All day I was possessed by feelings of weakness, thoughts of failure, and complete doubt about insignificant trivia. I can't help it. Hirst again said I'd be “lucky to get a ‘C.’

Boredom reduced me to ridiculous levels of bullshitting to Mark Pittock, Deborah, and anyone who was listening. I must sound really stupid  It's as if I take a part of what I believe and distort and exaggerate until it sounds utterly corny and laughable: Maybe this is a defense mechanism?

In Art we mounted our work for the final assessment. At times today I felt awful: real boredom and inner deadness, feeling overwhelmed by everything. . . .

Monday, May 10, 1982


Lee turned up today with mahogany-tinted hair and we went to Whincliffe after pointless History. We were there by 1.30. I took £30 with me.

We looked round a while at all the usual boring shoe shops and bland clothes shops. Lee bought a pair of suedes but I had no such luck trouserwise. X-cite was all baggy pinstripes, pointed shoes and oppressive doubt. I was getting quite desperate but finally found an OK shop and bought some tight sixties-ish pale pinstripes and shoes there also.

I felt low: fed up, tired, hot, sticky. I spent the evening feeling frustrated and stagnant.

Sunday, May 9, 1982


I woke up to hear that an attack on the Falkands has begun. Mum was full of tense fatalistic sighs and tragic comments and Carol's quite upset too. We watched the start of the London Marathon on TV and Robert and Carol left at 10.30.

Later I went out to do some preparatory sketches for Art. It was a fine clear warm evening as I walked down Foster Crescent, through scenes of middle class domestic tranquility (cars being washed, children playing, neighbours chatting), and along the canal about 1½ miles as far as Three Locks. I was looking for industry and nature interrelationships.

Along with the evening trippers I watched the locks being filled and emptied and boats maneuvering and then walked back the way I’d come. I stopped at a grassy gully between factory walls and stayed a while, drawing fire escapes and drain pipes tangled and choked with vegetation.

I cut back through the woods near Egley and was conscious of the fact that most of the people strolling through the trees around me were neat, smart couples. I diverted up through the Cemetery, wandering for a long while in the silence between the marble crosses and head stones, The air was still and thick with the scent of flowers: tranquil yet depressing. I got home full of gloomy thoughts.

More Falklands action. The Ministry of Defence denies an invasion but a trawler has been strafed and a Puma helicopter shot down. We watched spectacular film on the news of a Harrier bombing raid on Port Stanley.

Saturday, May 8, 1982


Dad ran me on to Cardigan Park at half-one for Athletic's last match of the season. They only had to draw to go up. I met Robert & Carol inside.

Elmfield, in all yellow, kicked off towards the Easterby End and they had a small but noisy contingent of fans directly across from the Shed. Athletic started like they did against Cross End: poor tackling, no commitment, slack marking. Elmfield's fluent moves and slick one-touch stuff had us skinned. . . .

The second-half was much the same although Athletic attacked a bit more and had a few chances, but it was still the same frustrating brand of footie. Wild desperation from the fans. We were devastated when a blunder put Elmfield in front. We just couldn’t believe it! Robert was furious.

Now Athletic were being completely outplayed, out tackled and out thought. But Cross End were rumoured to be winning 2-1, then 4-1 and we wondered if the players knew for they seemed not to try. The chants changed from “We’re Going Up” to “We Are Up, We Are Up.” Going up by default. I was sick.

But with two minutes to go and all looking lost the United ‘keeper miskicked and hit Newlands full in the chest with a hollow thwock. He nearly fell over but stumbled forward after the ball, pursued by yellow defenders, and calmly lobbed it past the goalie’s left hand and into the net! Pitch invasion. Goldman was shirtless, someone had stolen it in the melee, but it was returned and the game restarted, half-hearted moves, long anxious clearances, then the final whistle.

I couldn’t resist and vaulted over the wall and ran across the pitch along with a few hundred others to mill self consciously about in the centre circle feeling at a loss. A huge chanting, cheering scarf waving crowd gathered in front of the club house, and the players came out onto the balcony looking disheveled and happy, carrying bottles which were sprayed over the chanting, cheering and singing crowds below. It was a fantastic moment.

We walked contentedly back to the car and got back to find Dad happy too, and feeling guilty he hadn’t gone.

In the evening he and Mum went out for a walk on Keddon Moor while Rob & Carol went into Easterby to celebrate. They came back drunk, their voices slurred and enthusiastic.

Friday, May 7, 1982


Our first lesson was cancelled part way through so Mrs. Slicer could go deal with some girls who were sniffing glue. There was a tired, indolent atmosphere at school. After, I wandered up to the shop with Laura for a sausage roll and she told me about Jayne (small and fat sixth year with orange bits dyed in her hair who likes LSD) and Gillian Pugh (joy riding her father’s car at 14). I'm so naïve and don't know the half. . . . A day of boredom, inane singing and a lunatic, nihilistic mentality. I walked home with Lee and Claire.

Grant rang after I got home. He said that Uptown was “hostile” and that “people laughed if you were dancing unusually.”

It's the day after the local elections: Jeremy spoiled his ballot paper in protest, Peter voted Conservative, and Deborah was reticent about her choice although we suspected it was Tory. Claire didn’t vote. Mum voted Ecology and Dad; well, it goes without saying doesn’t it? Grant surprised me by voting for Labour. I think anyone who votes is silly because the system is redundant. When I get the vote I will always ruin my ballot.

Over tea Dad accused me and Mum of being unpatriotic because we don't support the Falklands war, and I fired back with my “no governments” spiel, feeling quite convinced for once, bolstered by Mum’s supportive voice.

Lee called round in the evening on his way home from Tesco with an application form for a part time job. Stephen Brown has put in a good word for me. I filled it out and Lee will deliver it tomorrow.

Thursday, May 6, 1982

As ever

‘A’ levels loom like an enormous black cloud. I stayed home intending, as ever, to work but again, as ever,  I didn’t do a thing.

So I wandered in to school at about two and endured Art until 6: my painting really reflects my inner lethargy. When I got home I rang Robert and I’m looking forward to Saturday’s game and the celebrations afterwards. I’m going to take a camera.

Two more Harriers are missing.

Wednesday, May 5, 1982

Cliff notes

My nihilism v. fidelity essay earned me a C, which is a bit better, but with Jeremy getting a B and Duncan a B+ even I had to face the fact that I'm not coping at all well with Conrad. Being so easily beaten is a blow to my pride.

I felt bored and awful later on, and when I got home Dad told me about his nightmare: walking hand in hand with Mum and a six-year old me. We came to a steep cliff and when I jumped over Dad  was horrified but then I was standing next to him laughing and it was just a doll falling instead. We walked down a metal fire escape that was thick with red ants and they crunched “like cornflakes” underfoot, and then through an archway onto the beach and the air was alive with blue bottles and drone flies.

Dad said that when he woke up he told Mum he thought he was dying or having a heart attack or something.

He also told me some fascinating details of our family history. My great great grandparents were Albert Martindale and Ellen Oldham: Albert was a quarry-man who was killed in his quarry.

Tuesday, May 4, 1982


We talked both lessons of History instead of doing any work, and none of us had prepared for the test. We listened quietly as Mr. Gray expressed disbelief at how lazy we are yet calm about it, and he urged us to work. At these moments I see my enormous mistakes so clearly, yet I always lose sight of this.

My hair caused some amusement.

Deborah went to a neighbour’s funeral in the afternoon: before she left the usual suspects were callously defending the loss of the Belgrano’s men. I stormed out infuriated and defeated.

I knocked Art with Lee and Duncan and they came to my house for an hour or so. Awful news from the Falklands: HMS Sheffield lost, the crew abandoning ship, a Harrier shot down in a second attack on Goose Green airfield, the pilot dead. All those lives. . . . Dad exploded at my “wishy washy weakness.” Thatcher is “devastated.”

Monday, May 3, 1982


I worked erratically on my nihilism v. fidelity essay for Hirst, breaking off to watch Nicholas and Alexandra, which had a sad ending.

Early reports said that the 1000-man cruiser General Belgrano was torpedoed and an Argentinian  naval patrol vessel sunk (and one more damaged), but now it's being reported that the Belgrano is “presumed” to have sunk after being hit twice, at about 8 p.m. our time today.

Sunday, May 2, 1982

Lost in thoughts

I didn't do any work. I got up at 11.30 and spent the entire day lost in thoughts of last-night. A typical, predictable Sunday, grey, blustery, rain-swept outside, watching TV with Nanna P. and Mum. They went out for a run in the car with Dad.

Despite a discussion/argument late on about sex education, abortion and overpopulation, nothing happened worth mentioning.

Saturday, May 1, 1982

The imperfections of non-conformity

More fighting today in the Falklands: bombing raids on Port Stanley airstrip, British ships attacked, and a Mirage and Canberra shot down.

I caught the bus to Nunstead and met Lee at Tesco, where he works Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. I found him just as he was disposing of cardboard from the shelves, and he took me up to the canteen where we met Stephen Brown who we both knew at Lodgehill Middle. He’s a Trainee Manager but rushes around creating havoc, slitting bottles of washing up liquid and crashing the fork-lift truck. He hasn’t changed a bit. I'm going to apply for a part-time job there over the hols.

We stopped at an army surplus place, where Lee & I each bought a pair of Protective Crash Fire Fighter Mark 3A trousers for £4 and dropped in on Jeremy before we caught a bus into Farnshaw where I searched in vain for new trousers, cursing the time.

I met Lee again in Easterby at eight, and within minutes, Grant had arrived, looking “tasteless” (Lee) in army shirt and large gleaming white pumps. With his black suede pointed shoes, electric blue socks, firefighter trousers fastened at the ankle, and long grey overcoat, Lee looked like a real poser.

Off we set, three in search of a night of fun and music. The centre of town was alive (styles aplenty but similarity guaranteed) and we started with a drink at the Limelight where Lee got threatened by a fashionable young macho “If-you’re-looking-at-me-I’ll-knock-your-block-off” type. We then moved on to the Metro and Baron’s Wine Bar before deciding to amble along to Uptown, our main objective. It wasn’t open yet so we hung about in a dark alley until they let us in.

It took a while to fill up but when it did it was incredibly crowded with all the usual fashionable young things, beclad in baggy black outfits and pointed black shoes. Some of the lads seemed sexless; a vague campness clung to their gyrating ascetic figures. Lee fitted in perfectly and despite initial horror on seeing himself in the mirror (“I look like such a poser!”) he seemed to quite enjoy flinging himself about to Pigbag, Mouth, 23 Skidoo etc., Grant, with his out of time arm flapping was being laughed at discreetly by a few, but I admire him because he really couldn’t give a shit and probably knows more about music than all the done-up types put together (although he's modest: “I really wouldn’t like to say”). He stood out like a beacon among the Perfect Beings on the dance floor. I stayed put.

There’s always a certain self-defeating pointlessness about the whole thing. It's predictable really. My enjoyment is always on a precarious, short-term level and I end up basically feeling pissed off. The imperfections of non-conformity.
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