Tuesday 8 April 1986

Just as boring today as it was yesterday.  Oh dear.  I played Football Manager on the C64, and did a little catching up, by doing some Physics homework.  I reported that I was thinking of buying a stereo if my brother, ‘tightness’ was agreeable.  Just a quickie about this, I was a spendthrift and my brother was very careful.  Careful to the extent that he would eschew spending his own money on things, wait for muggins to buy it and then make with it like it was his own!  The bleeder.  He wasn’t stupid was he…

Wednesday 9 April 1986

Oh no.  Another ‘boring’ day.  Again, I played Football Manager on the C64.  I also went to the library, and amongst all those books I was still bored.

At least Man Utd could offer us some entertainment as they lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea this evening.

And over on Channel 4 we had some seminal 1980’s TV, Prospects.  Following the adventures of Jimmy ‘Pincey’ Pince, played by the late great Gary Olsen and Billy, played by Brian Bovell, Prospects was a cult hit for Channel 4 – one of the programmes that only Channel 4 could make.

The sun sets on the Thames, another day comes to an end…

Thursday 10 April 1986

Result!  No mention of the words ‘bored’ or ‘boring’ today.  I played Football Manager again, I had almost finished my Physics homework, but I still had Maths, French, German and Chemistry to do.  Note to self, if you know that you had so much homework to do, why pray, did you leave it until the Thursday before the Monday that you’re due to go back to school.  There’s a room in the secondary school that I went to in which I spent many a frantic half hour before school finishing homework that I should have done the night before.  And I still carry out tasks in the same rushed manner!

I went to bed at 10.30 after the ‘best day for yonks.’

Commodore 64 (C64)

Bit of a toughy this one.  Where to start?  Well, we (I say we, I really mean I) received our C64 for Christmas 1984.  I sold it to my mum ,’Here’s the deal, you buy us the computer and I’ll buy the tape machine.’  Deal?  Done!

As she had a Kays catalogue account we ordered it from that – as agreed she paid for the computer and I paid for the tape deck – probably a couple of quid a month for my part of the deal.  And the best bit of it all? We got the C64, a Christmas present, in September!  Oh yes, we were able to plug it into a portable TV that we already had so no extra costs to be able to see what we were doing.  Oh and finally, bonus number 2 (at least), next door also had a C64 so there was a ready made set of games for us to copy (no – that’s illegal – really?!!).

[phpbay](“commodore 64 computer”), 2, 4193, “light cable lead”[/phpbay]

So where did we start? Well, the first game that we blagged from next door was the age old classic, Frogger. You must remember, get the frog across the road as the cars get faster and faster. Simple but breathtakingly effective fun. The first game that we bought for ourselves was one called Harrier Attack. Looking back, there didn’t appear to be a defined mission, you just flew across the top of the screen bombing what was beneath you. I’m not sure, but perhaps there was a fuel gauge which you had to watch and make sure you made it back to the ship before you crashed.

My four favourite games were Kevin Toms Football Manager, Spellbound, Raid Over Moscow and Daley Thomspon’s Decathlon.  I spent hours and hours playing all of them – Daley Thompson’s Decathlon was especially hard on the keyboard.  You had to hammer the space bar to make him run faster.

Spellbound was extremely addictive. You had to help the hero, Magic Knight find his mentor Gimbal the Wizard who had accidentally caused a white out situation whilst trying to perfect his recipe for rice pudding. This was probably the last game that I played constantly – could I suggest that I was growing up at this stage? Raid Over Moscow required some nifty joystick control – just getting your plane out of the space station was hard enough work, and as for the discus throwing at the end…

But it was Football Manager that really grabbed my attention.  This was a close the curtain, ignore the world and get lost in the game game.  You could take a team, Doncaster Rovers say, start them in Division 4 and within hours (!) have them beating Man Utd and other, even better, teams in Division 1.  Kevin Toms, we salute you!

[phpbay]raid over moscow | daley thompson | football manager | frogger | spellbound, 2, 3545, [/phpbay]

And finally, on occasion, I used to attempt to copy out the programmes that were featured in Your Computer. To tell the truth, I never really had much luck doing this. They were usually spread over several pages and if you made the slightest mistake, you know getting your ‘peek’ or ‘poke’ address wrong that was it. I did once manage to make a programme that simulated an piano type thingy work but that was about it.

Friday 12 September 1986

Another new location for lunch today.  It being Friday and all that, we went to the nearby chippie.  Damn fine chips they were too.  Just before lunch I think that we must have had General Studies – we were split into pairs and on one of those old BBC computers we were supposed to write a programme to simulate pontoon.  A complete dead loss in my opinion, then and now.

Friday 31 October 1986

Halloween.  Not the all out let’s-copy-the-Americans nonsense that it is nowadays.  No, we just used to knock on the door and run away from people.  There’s something so deliciously funny about the silhouette stood in the rectangle of yellow light that is their front doorway calling out into the inky blackness as you crouch, tittering behind a car.  Oh yeah, and the hedge bashing.  One night I suggested it and in my naïveté, when my mate started jumping on the hedge, I had to ask him what he was doing!  Doh!

Before darkness fell, I was attempting (yet again) to write a Risk simulator on the C64.  And (yet again) I failed, miserably – though in my optimism I reported that it was progressing OK.  Ha ha ha!