diamond geezer

 Monday, May 10, 2021

1 thing that happened to me 50 years ago this week
• On Saturday it was the FA Cup Final, and I picked Arsenal to support and my brother chose Liverpool. My new team won the Double (for the first time) and my brother cried (but he's won more European trophies since). This means I have now been an Arsenal supporter for fifty years and two days.

10 things that happened to me 40 years ago this week
• I bought the new Adam & The Ants single Stand and Deliver for 99p from WH Smith (which I shared with my brother because we were friends again by now).
• I also bought a Rubik's Cube for £3.99 and a Magic Octagon for £2.99 (which was basically a Rubik's cube with four of the corners sliced off). Both were soon irreversibly muddled.
• I did my O Level revision religiously every evening on topics including equations of motion, Macbeth, shipbuilding, German prepositions, atmospheric pressure, Latin poems and excretion.
• My chocolate biscuit wrapper collection reached 1961 specimens (mostly repeats).
• The words on Jigsaw this week were wizard and vanish.
• My form group at school was about to be broken up after five years of uneasy camaraderie. This was probably just as well as we'd reached the rumbustious stage of being banned from the form room at lunchtimes as punishment for forming a human pyramid in the library.
• Most mornings this week one unfortunate member of the form was bound hand and foot with springy cycle straps and leather belts, then pushed out into the corridor and with a cry of 'Bondage!' to be mocked by passers-by. I can confirm this was neither clever nor enjoyable.
• Later in the week the mob progressed to using Martin's cigarette lighter to burn corners of holdalls and the ends of people's shoelaces.
• I was so excited when our new ZX-81 computer finally arrived direct from Sinclair HQ in a polystyrene box wrapped in brown paper. My excitement was tempered slightly when most of the programs I tried entering proved too large for its 1K memory. My frog-jumping game didn't fit even once I'd taken all the frills out. Started saving up for a 16K extension.
• Also the Pope was shot, François Mitterand was elected French President and Blue Peter launched a competition to design a plate for the upcoming Royal Wedding.

10 things that happened to me 30 years ago this week
• Found my lost umbrella in the office where I must have left it last Wednesday.
• Not only was the family home up for sale, there it was in the Watford Observer with a six figure price tag.
• I needed four first class stamps to send off for a job application in Bedford and a job application in Northampton. Both entirely unnecessarily, as it turned out.
• The landlord of the B&B I was lodging in knocked on my door, ostensibly for a chat but really because he wanted to steal one of my bedside drawers. I refused so he went nextdoor and stole one of Joe's instead.
• Had my first ever bottle of Irn-Bru (and decided I preferred Tizer).
• Watched Doogie Howser MD, Brookside, The Chart Show, the Comic Strip, Twin Peaks and The Darling Buds of May (but annoyingly missed Cluedo).
• Sat down with the man in charge of printing the Daily Mail for an in-depth chat (not about newspapers).
• Lost my fountain pen. I think I must have just put it down somewhere. I was utterly bereft without my Parker 25. Bought a new one on Saturday.
• Left the house at 6.30 to catch three trains to a job interview in a town I'd never been to before. The last time I had a job interview I was the only candidate, so there being four was a bit of a jolt. Survived the informal chat, the tour of the building and being taken for lunch (something with mince followed by an eclair). I was interviewed first and managed to bat back the volley of probing questions, I think capably, then had to wait around for the others to be similarly grilled. The cleaners were ready to lock up by the time the result came - hurrah, the job was mine! My new boss offered all sorts of helpful information and drove me back to the station, where I tried to find a cardphone so I could relay the good news to my parents. I was allowed to see the interview notes just before I left the job seven years later, and apparently I came over really well but they didn't like the way I looked. Never read your interview notes.
• Had to tell my boss at Job 1 that I had Job 2, and he smiled at the time but I don't think he took it well.

10 things that happened to me 20 years ago this week
• Drove into town for a haircut, two CDs, a copy of Q magazine and some M&S food, only to find I'd lost my ticket for the multi-storey and had to pay a £9 penalty.
• Came up to London for a day trip, including a DLR trip to Greenwich, a photo astride the meridian, a look at the new London Authority 'bubble' being built on the South Bank and several beers. Also spotted Mo Mowlem being driven into Westminster. I've had more successful dates.
• My landlord informed me that the entire building needed to be emptied for repairs to the flat roof so I'd need to find somewhere else to live before the autumn.
• Drove to Cambridge and got stuck in an enormous queue on the A14 on the way home, and I don't miss that.
• Did that thing where you wait for everyone to leave the office, then use the photocopier to print things you shouldn't really be copying at work.
• Tony Blair announced a General Election for July, and what a different era that now feels.
• Two months after managing to smash my fingernail in a car door, its replacement was finally at trimmable length.
• My nice boss had retired recently and I was swiftly working out that his replacement was a slimy delegator, all bonhomie but as little action as possible, an upward climber everyone liked the first time they met him, a creator of fuss, a skin-of-the-pants chancer... and maybe I didn't want to be here any more.
• Because I wasn't enjoying Job 3 I rang up what would be Job 4 to request an application form. It eventually arrived days late, very close to the final deadline, because someone had written Ipswitch, Southwark as part of the address and the Royal Mail had got confused.
• I rushed the application form, filling it in while watching the Cup Final and Eurovision, thinking that would do. It very much didn't - I wasn't even shortlisted for interview. But everything turned out OK because a few weeks later a more senior role came up and I applied for that, much more carefully, and got it... and that's how I ended up in London. I often thank the unseen minion who misaddressed that envelope.

3 things that happened to me 10 years ago this week
• I encountered Angela Lansbury near Bus Stop M, accompanied a workmate to A&E and climbed aboard the prototype New Bus For London... but I blogged about all this at the time so needn't go into detail again.

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