2nd Nov 2021 – I think this term would have been my first introduction to homework and it probably wasn’t too hard but I already knew how I felt about it. I think there wasn’t much I was really interested in that I would want to study even longer than being at school. In my primary school years I was quite a good student and I can remember the exact time when that changed.
It was 1976 and I had just moved with my mum, from Devon to Dorset, where my mum would take care of my grandparents in exchange for free rent. I started a new school and was one of the ‘top’ students, I guess. I tried my best. At Christmas that year I was chosen to be Joseph, opposite Becky Houldey as Mary in the school nativity.
But as the year came to an end, students worked on their individual ‘big project’. This involved excursions and other types of research as opposed to sitting in classes. I started off with gusto and through working with various other students at points became good friends with Paul Sotheran. I loved his sense of humour and crazy attitude to life. He didn’t give a shit about the project and I soon fell into that mindset too!
29th January 1979 Monty Python’s Flying Circus
8th Nov 2021 – I was allowed to stay up after 9pm to watch this every Tuesday night. I think my mum enjoyed watching it too. We both appreciated this kind of quirky British humour. I know Spike Milligan and Dave Allen were amongst mum’s favourites.
31st January 1979 OH HELL Don’t know!! Nerds Words
8th Nov 2021 – I thought perhaps Nerds was in reference to the candy but a quick search shows they weren’t introduced until 1983. I think this must have been another Happy Days reference. Looking back I can see the creeping influence and Americanisation (with an s!) of British culture already.
1st February 1979 1 – Blondie 2 – Ian Dury 3 – The Three Degrees 4 – Village People
2nd February 1979 REV 3 times 20 AHHHHH Doctor 5.05 Miss Happy Days X
8th Nov 2021 – REV? Revision? Reverse? 3 times 20? 60? I don’t know. Perhaps like the X, and tomorrow’s 1, some sort of code I thought I would never forget again.
3rd February 1979 Hey Nerd! Bristol City 3-1 Ipswich (Mariner) BLURP! 1
18th Oct 2021 – It seems to be around this time that I was really starting to pay more attention to the charts and leaning further away from pop and disco tunes and towards louder raunchier music.
21st January 1979 Horray no school tomorrow WO
22nd January 1979 Boring day WHAT
23rd January 1979 Great, school bus didn’t come so I ain’t going to school
18th Oct 2021 – Already sarcastic, aged 11. Just looking at these words, they could be read as positive – ie – Awesome, no school! But I know that is not what I meant. The school bus didn’t come but I was still up and ready and waiting for it when I could’ve been sleeping in or getting up to whatever other nonsense I usually did on free mornings.
24th January 1979 School today BLURP Leeds 2-2 Soton (League Cup semi-final 2nd leg)
18th Oct 2021 – I’m pretty sure these were times when I could tell you all about football teams, players, scores etc even those I didn’t really follow. I think this was the time of Allan Clarke (Leeds) and Mick Channon (Southampton)?
25th January 1979 (1) Hit me with your rhythm stick, hit me, hit me ID and the Blockheads (6) Once I had a love and it was a gas, soon found out had a heart of glass Blondie
18th Oct 2021 – I loved that this Ian Dury song was number one, after 1978’s What a Waste was a favourite. Somehow I convinced my mum to buy me this single and I was thrilled that the b-side title was “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards”, finding it very daring to have what was then considered a swear word in the name.
Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ wasn’t my favourite song from Parallel Lines, which would have been one of the first albums I owned, again, after convincing my mum to buy for me. Anything that featured Debbie Harry and saw the chance of seeing her beautiful image on TV again was wholly supported by my imagination, which had already run wild after seeing the video for ‘Presence Dear’ where I was certain she was talking directly to me from the screen.
I dreamt that she was waiting for me by a particular tree in the woods and hurried that morning to go and meet her. I waited and waited, trying to feel her presence, almost ecstatic and a tingling in my pants that I was only just learning about.
I limped home ever so disappointed as my youthful hard-on waned in my tight pants but I didn’t give up hope.
26th January 1979 Got a new magazine called Superpop HEYYY!
27th January 1979 Ipswich 0-0 Orient Hey Nerds! Rly Tes
18th Oct 2021 – There are many codes in my diaries that I was sure I would remember the meaning of because they were ‘really important.’ A couple I’m still able to work out and I also left deciphering clues elsewhere in the pages but this entry I don’t know.
14th January 1979 Going to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind
14th Oct 2021 – This would have been at the Tivoli in town (Wimborne Minster) and a very special event for an 11-year-old living out in the sticks. The movie really provoked my imagination – not so much about the alien visitors but how crazy the humans became. This and the War of the Worlds soundtrack really got me going, thinking about space and the universe though it wasn’t long until what was happening on earth overrode everything.
15th January 1979 Cleaning out the stream Forgot Don’t know
14th Oct 2021 – The woods opposite my house were a few children’s playground though for me it became a big part of my imagination and life. I familiarised myself with every corner, nook and cranny of the woods, sometimes even expanding over into overgrown backyards that backed onto it. It was divided up into several sections depending on clearings, paths, tracks and type of trees. There were three main entrances and a stream ran through the middle in a miniature valley (a ditch!).
When walking my grandparents’ dog – a job I mostly enjoyed – I would navigate through the grassy entrance to the woods, through the small paths amongst the bracken, to the main clearing where another path formed into a big circle you could walk, run or ride a bike around and beyond this down into the ditch where the stream was attempting to flow from right to left as I approached it. With the melting snow feeding it there was lots of water and so much debris would be picked up and block progress so that it flooded over the sides onto the banks and paths. I made it my mission to clear it, a little bit every day. I thought myself the owner of this stream and woe betide anyone who tried to reverse my hard work and block it again.
It took me many weeks to clear through halfway and later in the year, as seasons changed, there would be fresh challenges ahead. In my wellington boots, I kicked at the bottom of the stream to clear rocks away, pulled at entangled bushes on the bank, removed fallen branches until one day, about three-quarters of the way through I came to a small bend and beyond was the next objective to clear. The banks were steeper here and the tree cover dense so it was impossible to see the bottom. I bravely took a step forward feeling confident I would find the safety of the stream bed.
Alas, I was too careless and, as my foot plunged deeper, the icy water flowed over the top of my left boot and filled it full of water. Fuck! Stupid stream! I got out, emptied my boot and trudged home, cold and damp footed.
I went back of course but opted to start at the other end of the stream and work my way back to the cavernous depth that brought me despair. Having done this however, I found that the stream could only be accessed so far until it was blocked by a big hedge – and what was over that hedge made me extremely curious for further investigations.
16th January 1979 Same as yesterday Forgot Don’t know
14th Oct 2021 – I called my friend, Jason White, who lived on a farm down the end of the lane that ran alongside our house. You had to walk through his farm to get to the bottom of the field where Horton Tower was and where we used to climb up the crumbling brickwork inside to get to the windows from where you could also jump out. This was a teenage tradition for everyone locally and some kids even made it up to the second level but I was never brave enough to try.
Anyway, I called him…..actually, I probably didn’t even call him, I would’ve gone to his house and seen if he wanted to ‘come out to play’? I was proud of my stream cleaning success and wanted to show him. When we got there though he didn’t seem impressed at all which was disappointing. He was, however, curious about what was on the other side of that hedge.
Egging each other on, we climbed up a tree and along a branch that hung over into this forbidden territory. We dropped down onto a path that seemed to curve round in either direction. Whilst the path looked well enough used, the overgrowth on either side was so high it was difficult to predict what was around each corner. As I was thinking about this, Jason began to tell stories of the owner laying animal traps and walking around with a shotgun ready to shoot people who trespassed there. So it was in trepidation we snooped around as far as we could until we scared ourselves too much and jumped over/through another hedge and into an adjoining field.
Curiosity was well piqued by now and I ventured back a few more times, both alone or with a friend, until one day the owner walked right to us and asked what I was doing. I mumbled about just wondering and wandering what this area was and he told me to get out the way I came and not to come back. I don’t think I ever did.
There seemed to be nothing of interest in this enclosed wooded area, which, of course, made it even more tempting to investigate further but the threatening look of the owner was enough to keep me away.
I returned to the woods many years later and whilst some parts are the same, others have either changed or they no longer fit with memories. I’ll always be tempted to go back and look again (even though it’s on the other side of the world) but I’ve learned that memories are sometimes better left to themselves.
17th January 1979 Found out that ID and the Blockheads isn’t No. 1
14th Oct 2021 – Although I have no diary for 1978 I can see that music was taking on a more important role in my life throughout 1979. From football and cars at the beginning of the year to the charts and punk rock by the end. Critical times and enough to drive my mother mad.
18th January 1979 Painted WODs today Painted them white Interesting this article isn’t it!
14th Oct 2021 – Wall of Death? Wheels of Death? What’s the ‘s’ on the end? It seems I was also conscious of writing this diary for a reason, talking to a future self.
19th January 1979 Given new set book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe BLURP
14th Oct 2021 – I struggled with reading books during these years, especially if they were school-assigned books. Who wants to read what they’re told!? I do believe I did complete reading this book though. Something about a lion, a witch and a wardrobe, I bet!
20th January 1979 Finished some homework Ipswich 3-1 Wolves HEYY!
14th Oct 2021 – Weird that I would comment on finishing homework. I guess I was proud of this achievement.
12th Oct 2021 – Each page of this diary had a small write-up on some important or legendary footballer and re-reading a lot of these names was a trip. Just seeing the name would remind me of the teams I was familiar with them playing for. Players were brutal and ugly in those days, playing on muddy and messy pitches. The sport was highly revered but was without the crazy amount of money that sponsorships and advertising brought once the Premier League began – which is also around the time I lost interest – though there are other reasons involved for that too.
7th January 1979 Granny beat me at Happy Days But I beat her in Trumps
12th Oct 2021 – Trumps or Top Trumps was really popular around this time, a card-collecting game where you chose your best stat hoping to beat your opponents. Topics may be types of car or military vehicles. Unsurprisingly there is a website for Top Trumps, so possibly it is even popular now for any child who doesn’t have a phone. And come to think of it, many mobile phone games employ similar systems of scoring as TT too.
For Happy Days I had to go search and finding this picture I’m guessing this is what I was playing with my Granny. She was always Granny, never Gran or Grandma. I can’t imagine it but I hope playing this (and winning) gave her some affection for her grandson. The board doesn’t trigger any memories but the jukebox counting design feels familiar. Look at all the American words I was already subjecting myself to. Nerd, cruising, drag. After exposure to Grease last year I was getting to be all about the leather jacket.
8th January 1979 I am able to watch Danger UXB because there’s no school tomorrow HEEYYYY!
12th Oct 2021 – Again, a quick image search triggers memories of this show. Otherwise, I’m lost. I was particularly anxious at times during this show as the soldiers would race against time to disarm bombs. Hard to imagine how they got so much mileage out this premise. 13 episodes and that was it – something I always liked about many UK TV shows. Concise and well written.
9th January 1979 Return to school postponed WO!
12th Oct 2021 – Still improving my American language skills, I hadn’t yet learned how to spell Woah!
10th January 1979 Ipswich 3-2 Carlisle HEYY!
12th Oct 2021 – WOAH and HEY are my attempts at being the coolest cat in deepest Dorset. There was no one to impress except my own maturing ego.
11th January 1979 Still no school and I ain’t going tomorrow cause it’ll be stupid
12th January 1979 A boring day Nothing to say It rhymes It rhymes
12th Oct 2021 – Here I am, already on my poetic journey. I must’ve been bored with the snow already.
13th January 1979 Previous scores 5-2, 6-1 Ipswich P-P Villa Blurp!
12th Oct 2021 – At this point, football and Ipswich were my primary concern. Something that would change somewhat during the course of this year.