The Week That Was – 31st December 1978

31st December 1978
Snow started falling yesterday

2nd Aug 2021 – My first memory of snow, though it is likely I experienced it previously when I lived in Cumbria. About 4 or 5 feet of snow fell over a few days and hung around for ages as the temperature stayed around freezing. I built huge camps by the garden hedge, reenacting great trench warfare battles with pine cones as grenades. My machine gun also finding the target of the British soldiers. As with football teams, I always sided with the team in blue, obviously not knowing the real history behind the wars. It also made me want to side with the underdog and to try to appreciate the other side of a story. This was probably helped along by a continual stream of British movies celebrating victory against all odds, an attempt to counter the decline of the Empire since the end of the second world war.

My brief research indicates that there was snow around Dorset until February at least. A child’s dreamland!

1st January 1979
Watched the zany goings-on with The Didn’t Quite Make It In Time For Christmas Show

2nd Aug 2021 – That’s Kenny Everett and Rod Stewart – and this is what people looked like in 1979! Other guests were Leo Sayer and Hot Gossip. Punk had definitely not gone mainstream yet!

2nd January 1979
Tried some tricks with rubber bands

2nd Aug 2021 – Not sure what I was doing with rubber bands here but my mum taught me how to tie rubber bands together to make them longer. In summer I would tie four together and shoot dead the flies that had come in through the open windows during the day. Their blood-splattered remains smeared across the walls and ceiling.

3rd January 1979
I rolled a snowball about 3 feet high but later I smashed it with Kung Fu kicks

3rd Aug 2021 – Kung Fu was a pretty popular TV series and I was always in awe of when the guy gripped the molten pot that burned images of a dragon and lion onto his arms. I think I checked out the show again a few years ago and like many things, it’s best left good in the memory of the past. Looking for the attached picture tells me the show has been revived this year. Hmmm….could be good. Could be terrible.

4th January 1979
‘Blue Peter’ were talking about diaries

3rd Aug 2021 – No one who saw it at the time will ever forget Peter Purves exclaiming ‘What a lovely pair of knockers!’ about a couple of door handles. A further search for this has the phrase spoken by Simon Groom – see how fallible our memories can be?

5th January 1979
I found out that Saturday’s match wasn’t on
What do you mean Heyy

3rd Aug 2021 – I was writing HEY on most pages of my diary because I loved watching Happy Days and also thought the Fonz was so cool. It was as close as a prepubescent could get to being a potential rebel. It was the nearest we got to seeing punk rock on the TV most weeks. I notice most of my diary this week revolves around TV. At this time we cherished these shows as they mostly were only on once a week and life was planned around things you wanted to watch.

On Saturday’s I would usually play football for the school team – I was centre forward, wishing to emulate my heroes Trever Whymark and Paul Mariner. Talking of which, as previously mentioned I think I also asked the hairdresser to cut my hair like the Fonz – which also never worked out well for me or the hairdresser.

I think in this case the match I was talking about was the Ipswich game as this would have still been school holiday time.

6th January 1979
Ipswich P-P Carlisle

3rd Aug 2021 – Ipswich had won the FA Cup last year and I believe did very well in 1979 too, winning the Cup Winners Cup and possibly the First Division (though that may have been in the following couple of years). These were days before big sponsorship deals and the names of the competition changing every year depending on who provided the money.

Letts Association Football Diary 1979 – 30th December 1978

This Association Football Diary 1979 Belongs to
Shaun “Concorde” Hemsley
Forest Cottage


19th Jul 2021 – Gordon McQueen, Terry Yorath, Liam Brady – these names! Memories of Match of the Day on Saturday nights and the one on Sunday afternoons on ITV….what was that one called – the one with Brian…..damn, what was his name!?

So, in search of this name I came across this sad piece of information:

My first team was Ipswich Town (and Italy – purely for the reason that they wore blue and their names began with I!) and they did amazingly well in the late 70s and early 80s, so much so that manager Bobby Robson got the job of managing the England team. Trevor Whymark was my favourite player and when Paul Mariner joined they were a great upfront duo.

I took a very similar picture of Mariner to the hairdresser and told him to make my hair the same. Of course I didn’t understand that it wasn’t possible and was severely disappointed with the results. The same hairdresser balked at dying my hair blue a couple of years later so I figured out how to do it myself.

Childhood heroes dying are more a shock than sad really. When I calculate his age to 68 I then calculate that’s just 14 years away for me. I want to outlive all my heroes!

Anyway – The Big Match was what it was called, and hosted by Brian Moore. I always preferred Match of the Day anyway really but not really sure why.

I’m not sure if I crowned myself ‘Concorde’ or if I was given that nickname by others. I was in the second year of middle school, at St Michaels, Colehill. I was the fastest runner for my age in the school (over short distances).

Why I wrote ‘Pussycat??’ I have no recollection.

The address is where my mum and I moved to in October 1976, just before my 9th birthday, after the long hot summer in Devon, where we lived for only six months. Forest Cottage was where my grandparents lived and my mum now became their carer and I went through my formative teenage years.

I note that our phone number was ‘Witchampton 203’ originally – when there were so few phones that we only required a three digit number.

This is what the house looks like these days – the house itself pretty unchanged. My bedroom was at the top left and my mum used to sleep on the landing, which I found strange and impressive. There was a bigger bedroom on the right (both windows) but I always felt uneasy in there as the floor sloped away and creaked as if it would break.

“Our’ room – my mum and I – was the extension on the left. I would play here until I was 13 or so when I retreated more permanently to my bedroom. I think the original house was a couple of hundred years old.

Until about the age of 13 or 14 I would take a football over into this field, usually when there were no horses in it, and play football with myself, often scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup Final of my dreams. I would also often have to retire injured with twisted ankles in the horseshoe divots in the ground. It wasn’t quite Wembley.

At the fence between our house and this field I would often spy on horse riding girls who would come and groom their animals, inspired by their horsey faces, porcelain skin and thigh hugging britches.