Friday 25 April 1986

Mmm.. contradictory or what?  Entry one, ‘boring today’.  Followed by ‘best day for absolutely ages’, and ‘Chemistry was one ace laugh again.’  Lincoln’s saying springs to mind, that you can please some people sometimes etc.  I, it seems couldn’t be please at all.

And.. ooh hoo, in a puberty related link, one of my friends, was re-christened ‘Farmer Giles’ due to the extensive stubble growing on his chin.  And if I remember correctly, this chap was the first to demonstrate his manly progress to us all in the showers after football, with his new growth of hair in a place where none of us had grown it before…  Just goes to show I suppose, that although we may have had it physically, mentally we were nowhere.

The Rubik Cube (Rubik’s Cube)

What happened in Hungary on 13 July 1944?  Erno Rubik was born, that’s what.  You may already know what impact he had on the 1980’s, but I feel that a little more information wouldn’t go amiss.

We all know what a Rubik’s Cube is.  It’s one of those 3x3x3 cubes with the coloured stickers – yes, but can you do it?  Could you do it?  Do you need a book to tell you how?  Do you still own one?  I used to have one, and apart from completing one side was pretty clueless as to how to go any further.  We used to unpick the stickers and re attach them in the right order, and when we became bored with that, we started to dismantle the cube, but this was all so unsatisfactory. I mean, the blessed thing then kept falling apart.

But then I got hold of a book, and managed to solve it.  By rote I might add, but I could solve it, and I think that my record was something like 2 minutes.

Anyway, the Cube is one of the great 1980’s icons.  It was Noel Edmonds who first encouraged the British Public buy the Cube.  In the early 80’s on Multi Coloured Swapshop (01-811-8055!) he featured one for 3 weeks running.  Where previously sales had been sluggish, now they soared.  Eventually some 15 million were shifted in the UK.

It continues to be featured in popular culture.  You will no doubt have seen it in 3 episodes of The Simpsons (where Homer eventually solves it), or Armageddon (Steve Buscemi), The Pursuit of Happyness (Will Smith) and also in Wall-E.

See also – Googling the Cube

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Multi Coloured Swap Shop

Ok, ok. It started in 1976, but I don’t remember watching it when I was only six. It was an 80’s phenomenon alright! Having said that, it gave way in 1982 to Saturday Superstore – Mike ‘Auntie’ Read taking over the mantle (surely cudgel) from Noel ‘Tidybeard’ Edmonds.

But enough of this, what about Swap Shop?  Well for a kick off, it wasn’t TISWAS.  Featuring Edmonds (never really liked him, mesel’), Keith ‘Cheggers’ Chegwin, Maggie Philburn and John Craven, Multi Coloured Swap Shop bestrode Saturday mornings in my formative years, as I yearned, nay ached for the chance to get up and turn over to watch Tarrant and the guys on the other side.  Sadly, this was the one time when me mum put her foot down and told us what we were going to watch.  Boo hoo.

I can still recite the now defunct telephone number – 01-811-8055 – wouldn’t it be cool if BT could allow us to dial the number and leave us a message on answering, something like, ‘Hi there, you’ve got through to Multi Coloured Swap Shop, unfortunately, you’re 27, 28, 29… years too late.’  But they don’t, probably.  Perhaps you could try it and let me know?

Anyway, one of the first times I saw it, I though that I had seen a ghost.  No I really did.  A girl from our school had recently died and Maggie Philburn was an absolute spit for her.  It shook me for a while, I can tell you.  Cheggers was his manic self, wind, rain, snow, sea spray, you name it, he was out in it.  I think that he was the nearest thing that they ever got to what was going on over on ITV, but even that was in a controlled, BBC kind of way.  And John Craven was, er, John Craven.  Enough said, he presents Countryfile now…

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Sunday 22 June 1986 (Maradona’s Hand of God)

What’s to be said about today?  Let me just get the mundanities out of the way first.  Because my ankle was in a state after spraining it on Friday, my brother did me paper round, and in putting one of my contact lenses I managed to scratch my eyeball.  Sorry, I should have advised looking away, for those of you who are squeamish.

Anyway, at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City in front of 115,000 punters, England departed the world cup 2-1 at the hands of Argentina.  Well more accurately at the hand of one Diego Armando Maradona.  But hey, whatever you say about the first goal (and it was handball) I agree with Barry Davies for the second, because it was magnificent and is arguably the best goal ever scored.  England then, belatedly, woke up and pulled one back through Lineker and even had a chance to level it at 2-2, but our Gary’s not tall enough.

In the other game, red hot favourites Spain, were sent packing by a determined Belgium team after a penalty shoot out.  So, the semi finals would see an all European clash and a Europe versus South America clash with France against West Germany and Belgium taking on Argentina.

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Tuesday 24 June 1986

The only surprise was that it had taken so long to get to this pass.  ‘I am getting pissed off with staying at home.’  I complained that there was nothing to do except call for my friend, but since he stays in bed until 12 o’clock (at least!) this was really frustrating (the fact that I was up at 7.30 to do my paper round was perhaps the real bone of contention).

I don’t ever remember being that much of a fan of staying in bed.  Perhaps it was my paper round, but I just didn’t do that teenager thing of staying in bed until stupid times of the day – until that is, I started going out on the ale and even more so when I was a post student dole-y for twelve months (but that was in the 90’s anyway, so of no relevance here!)

Wednesday 25 June 1986

Today I tried to cut the grass in the playing field.  It was, as you might expect, hopeless.  When the younger kids came home from school – they still had a month left – we tried to play football in the playing field, but to no avail.

In the world cup semi finals, West Germany and Argentina both ran out 2-0 winners to set up what would turn out to be a fantastic final.

Friday 27 June 1986

A bit of a contradiction in my diary entries for today.  I don’t want to harp on about this kinda stuff, but I do feel that it merits some mention.  You know, the paradox between growing up in the 1980’s and all the freedoms that we had, and not being old enough to appreciate them.

So… here goes, on the one hand I was ‘bored’, and then on the other I watched a recording of a programme from the previous night about the Battle of the Somme.  The programme had been shown because 1 July would be the 70th anniversary of the battle’s start – 1-7-1916, vital stats, 19,240 British dead in a total British casualty list of 57,470. And that’s just the British!  And here’s me, a spotty sixteen year old oik moaning about being bored.

My final comment about today, ‘not long to go till (sic) 6th form now.’

Saturday 28 June 1986

Ooh this is a little bit woo, a little bit whey… It was a scorching hot day, so we went swimming in the brook (that’s a beck or a burn to any of you northern types), right where the cows come down to get a drink and do other things…  Horrible, yes, disgusting even, but dangerous?  Well I’m still here writing this.

Anyway, so far so mundane.  It must have been the heat, or the combination of heat and accompanying lack of clothes down there in the brook, because we cooked up a plan to invite some girls (one of which was the love of my life at the time – pity I never told her…) in to the house whilst me mum and dad were out in the evening.  So far so tame, as what they actually did when they came was to stand at the back door, giggling as girls do, drink our coffee and then sod off home again.  Boo! hiss!  I made a note that the visit was supposed to be reciprocated next week, but I don’t recall ever going to their house… honest…

Monday 30 June 1986

Induction week at VIth form started today.  The actual business of sixth form wasn’t such a bad experience after all.  However, in my desperate attempt to appear hip and cool by not wearing my specs, of course I had to go and rub my eye, make a mess of it, be unable to wear my contact lenses and therefore have no choice but to wear my sodding glasses anyway.  This for a young man lacking in confidence anyway was a bit of a downer really, and was portentous of my whole 2 years at sixth form.