Tuesday 31 December 1985

In my new BBC Pot Black 1986 Diary (produced under licence by Collins, Glasgow) I made my first entry.  It bears quoting at length, “Last TV Prog of 85 – Wogan – crap.”

There, what an erudite contribution to the discussion eh?  You can rest assured that the rest of the pages are crammed with similarly pithy comment.  But don’t let the highbrow nature of it put you off.  It does get easier to understand the more you read of it…

Wednesday 1 January 1986

After seeing in the New Year, my bed was found at ten minutes to one. I can’t remember if I had a drink or not, it’s possible I suppose.  I slept in until 10 o’clock and then played Football Manager on my Commodore 64 (C64).  Now let’s be clear here, if Shirley Crabtree was The (Big) Daddy of the wrestling ring, then the C64 was The Daddy of gaming computers in the 1980’s.

Football Manager was addictive stuff, I remember.  You started with your team in the fourth division (renamed division 2 nowadays!?) and you then had to pick your team to best advantage in order to move up the divisions.  Graphics were rudimentary (but they looked fantastic back then, or did they?) and the game had the uncanny knack of actually making time accelerate.

Later on, in the evening I guess, I watched Rocky II.  I can’t remember anything much about the film, but my diary comment, “Wot a con!?” is unequivocal yet seems to leave the door ajar for a reassessment as necessary. I’m sure that my brother was highly enamoured with it!

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Thursday 2 January 1986

I got up late, again, well it was still the Christmas holidays!  Played Football Manager again and didn’t do an awful lot else.  So it’s probably safe to say that I didn’t make my bed, or do any washing up.  And there is no way that I would have made any of the meals that I ate during the course of my day playing Football Manager. I may have had a bath, but after having done so, I wouldn’t have rinsed it afterwards.  Mm Mm!  Delightful.

Friday 3 January 1986

Another day bashin’ the chunky keys on the even chunkier keyboard of the C64.  “Yup, Football Manager again.”  I commented, “pretty exciting stuff eh?”  Let’s not be too coy about it, yes it was.  Kevin Toms, the creator of FM had written a really cool game and it did get me hooked.

My other entry for this day is, I think, oxymoronic, and sums up the life of a computer obsessed 16 year old who happens to be a fan of real live grass and boots with studs football.  My Mum had been to town and bought me a ticket for the following day’s 3rd round FA Cup tie between 2nd division Shrewsbury Town and (I think 1st division) Chelsea.  Cost of the ticket?  Three English pounds.

Saturday 4 January 1986

I must have actually not played on Football Manager today.  I do however, comment on the weather, “snowed” and sum up the match in around 10 words, “Town had it won but couldn’t finish and lost 1-0.”

In other news, Liverpool beat Norwich City 5-0, with goals from MacDonald, Walsh, Whelan, McMahon and Wark.

Sunday 5 January 1986

Now, I must have been out and about earlier in the week as reading this diary entry has jogged my memory of my paper round.  I had a morning round and Monday through Saturday must have delivered no more than 20 newspapers plus the odd periodical.  But then on Sunday, good grief, I must have had forty to carry and of course with it being Sunday, they were much much bigger – and heavier.

I had a racing bike.  It was a Peugeot and it arrived, I remember, from me Mum’s Kays catalogue on Live Aid Day in the summer of 1985.  The wheels on this thing were like razor blades and it went like stink.  It didn’t go so quickly however, with 40 Sunday newspapers slung over me left shoulder.  More to the point, I was probably unsafe, wobbling the mile up the road at the mercy of all sorts of car wielding lunatics.  So on Sundays, me Dad would go down in the car and pick up the newspapers for me.  I still had to walk around and deliver ’em mind.

The lucrative part of the round though, was the collection of people’s paper bills.  I divided my labour up into two parts. First, I would walk round and deliver the papers.  I’d get home around 10 or 10.30, have a cup of coffee and then go out again for another hour collecting the money.  My idea was that they wanted their papers early, but they didn’t want me knocking on the door too early in order to collect the money.

Anyway, this week, I collected the princely sum of £93.47, of which I think my share was 3%.  I’d even written a programme in BASIC on my C64 to tot up the notes and coins and then tell me how much I’d earned.

In the afternoon of this cold and frosty day, we settled down to watch Tony Cottee score the only goal in West Ham’s victory over Charlton at Selhurst Park in the 3rd round of the FA Cup.  It was, I noted, “[the] first televised TV (? football, surely) for yonks.”  It started at 3pm and was on BBC1.

Monday 6th January 1986

Oh Unhappy Day.  No death, no pestilence, just back to school (or “Skool” as I referred to it). Apparently, it was “boring for the most part”, perhaps the only enlivening aspect was the departure of me mate from our top maths set. I was a little miffed about this you know, because he used to lift liquid paper from a well known local stationery suppliers and in turn, I used to lift it from him and pass it on to a fourth party. Quite what either of us were doing, perhaps only other teenagers will know.

Tuesday 7 January 1986

Whooppee! Thank you Jack Frost. No, I don’t mean the grumpy TV ‘tec (David Jason was still busy with Del Boy). No, I mean, the Jack Frost who brings us cold and snow. Yes! We were sent home from school at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Apparently, the snow was pretty heavy. We had a snowball fight outside(!) at 7.30.

The best news of the day however, was the new series of Grange Hill. Yesssss! Get in there! We all loved Grange Hill, didn’t we? The only thing slightly odd about it from a realists point of view – you know, like what I was in the 80’s – was the complete lack of swearing. Yes, I know now that it was on at prime time for kids, so there wouldn’t be any swearing, but it was odd to see Gripper Stebson, Roland Browning’s would be nemesis, angry and frustrated with the Space Invaders machine in the local chippy, thumping it and yelling… “Sugar!” at it. Priceless.

Even Ben Elton picked it up, “Aw come on Mr Liberal, we’re the only kids on telly who don’t say f……..”

Wednesday 8th January 1986

Thanks to the snow, we had a day off school. The diary entry looks as if the author has been blinded by the snow.  I’ll quote it at length “snow still here, still snowing this morning. Afternoon snow thawing slow. Snowed a bit more – not much. TV – crap.  Bed at 20 to 10 early night!!” Phew!  What utter drivel eh?

Thursday 9th January 1986

Whoo.  Wow!  This was a seminal day for 1980’s television, for BlackAdder II was broadcast for the first time.  It was, I noted, “Brill. Ace! FANTASTIC!!” Rowan Atkinson, who as well as playing the title role, had co-authored the first series, but had left the writing of this second series to Richard Curtis and Ben Elton.

We were back at school, which was boring and the weather was cold. It being my ‘O’ level year I had an interim report – unfortunately I make no mention of its contents.  However, I did have an insurance policy mature, delivering me the princely sum of £250.  Can’t remember on what I frittered it away!

I also noted that Michael Heseltine resigned.  Must have been them bloody helicopters!

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