diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 23, 2024

30 unblogged things I did in April 1984

They didn't have blogs or the internet forty years ago, indeed my Sinclair ZX81 wasn't capable of much, but here are 30 things I didn't digitally publish at the time. To help you get your bearings I was 19 and most of this is the Easter break from university. The best bit's in the middle of the month. Sorry there are no photos.

Sun 1: It's both Mothers Day and April Fools Day which is a recipe for potential disaster. Give Mum her card, watch her face, then give her her real card. I have a box of Thornton's truffles ready as a back-up. Lunch is early because Dad is heading off to Broadcasting House to be interviewed about football.
Mon 2: I'm mildly obsessed by the Cadbury's Creme Egg Mystery, a nationwide treasure hunt for 12 buried gold eggs with clues in the book Conundrum (which I still have). Try ringing the helpline (Freephone Gold Eggs) while my parents are out but it's only operational from 6pm to 8am.
Tue 3: Hugely disappointed that Dr Mabuse by Propaganda has failed to make the Top 40, but at least Captain Sensible is the highest climber.
Wed 4: It's Song For Europe night and Belle and the Devotions romp home.
Thu 5: Discover that WH Smith in Rickmansworth has closed its record department. Buy some Berol pens instead. Also BBC1 is off air all day because its technicians are on strike.
Fri 6: Help Mum make some scones for the Mothers Union meeting this afternoon (admittedly only the kneading bit, nothing technical). My brother has a more interesting day - Ken Livingstone comes to school to give a lecture.
Sat 7: On TV today 1) Saturday Superstore (with Nick Kershaw) 2) The Price is Right (with Leslie Crowther) 3) Zoltan Hound of Dracula (with a litter of vampiric puppies).
Sun 8: While I'm sat in my bedroom writing up lecture notes, my brother is up Cader Idris on his geography field trip. Spitting Image debut their puppet of the Queen.
Mon 9: Lunch is a tin of new Heinz Invaders (spaghetti shapes in tomato sauce resembling little spaceships), whereas tea is a traditional steak and kidney pudding.
Tue 10: Off to the Post Office to get a First Day Cover with the new Urban Renewal stamps. The 20½p stamp features Milburngate Shopping Centre in Durham while the 16p depicts the Liverpool Garden Festival (which'll be opening next month).
Wed 11: Excitement as someone we know from church appears on This is Your Life and gives the bookholder a big kiss. Ring up friends in Cheshire to help ensure that the university holidays won't entirely be a mundane waste of time.
Thu 12: Get some photos taken in one of those passport machines (oh dear, not great) and use one to buy a £12 student railcard. Watford Junction station is mostly portakabins because it's in the process of being redeveloped.

Fri 13: University Friend 1 (whose Dad runs a multinational company) drives me to Abingdon to meet UF2 and UF3, then we all drive up to the Wirral to stay over at the house of UF4. Her house is eye-opening because a) it has infra-red beams across the drive b) we have wine with our meal c) they have Ceefax! After dinner head out for beers at the Glegg Arms (which wasn't a Beefeater back then).
Sat 14: Proper brilliant day of sightseeing: i) drive to Chester and walk round the city walls (anticlockwise), ii) pub lunch (my fourth steak and kidney of the week), iii) drive into Wales and climb "a windy hill", iv) walk down World's End ("an isolated craggy limestone valley"), v) look round Valle Crucis Abbey (it's at this point that Watford win their semifinal against Plymouth and make it to the final of the FA Cup), vi) WALK ACROSS THE ACTUAL PONTCYSYLLTE VIADUCT (my diary merely says "nice" but what I was really thinking was "oh god this is narrow and high up and wow look at the view down there and oh god I suppose we're going to have to walk back again").
Sun 15: For our final day hereabouts we go out to vii) Wirral Country Park (for a walk along an ex railway) viii) Thurstaston Common (to climb the red sandstone outcrop) ix) West Kirby (get very wet walking round the Marine Lake) x) some Heswall pub (where I have too much cider and get drunk for the first time).

Mon 16: Time to switch friendship groups and spend a few days youth hostelling in the Peak District. Four trains get me to Edale, where the hostel isn't open yet so the nine of us climb up to see the Druid's Stone (except we're not sure which rock it is). At dinner Jan and Vicki sing Happy Birthday to me, even though it isn't.
Tue 17: Today's hike is a geological treat. First to Castleton via Hollins Cross and Mam Tor, then down the Blue John Cavern which is amazing. Eat lunch on Treak Cliff, decide against visiting Speedwell Cavern and fail to reach the castle because there's a 300 foot chasm in the way. At dinner we all sing Happy Birthday to Jan, even though it isn't.
Wed 18: Today's hike is all dales, starting with Cave Dale and continuing via Hay Dale, Peter Dale and (my favourite) Monk's Dale. Topics of conversation include lambs, the situation in Libya, lateral thinking puzzles and the Wombles. Our target is Ravenstor hostel where at dinner we all sing Happy Birthday to Vicki, even though it isn't. One of the groups at a neighbouring table, who were also in Castleton yesterday, shoots us a dodgy look.
Thu 19: Today's hike mostly follows the Monsal Trail, although we have to divert via the gorge at Chee Dale because the tunnel's closed. The cement works isn't the most scenic welcome to Buxton. And that's quite enough hostelling, so it's back to Chief Friend's house in Cuddington to slum it on her sofa instead.
Fri 20: Get roped into helping the family at the local sailing club beause they're on duty today. After lunch I get taken out on Winsford Flash in a Mirror and get to learn about beating, tacking, jibing and booms. Never done it before, never done it since. Then it's time to go home (one stop from Crewe to Watford Junction) where I very definitely need a bath. Enjoy tonight's programme celebrating BBC2's 20th anniversary.

Sat 21: Back to normal, which means Coco Pops for breakfast and a lot of sitting around at home, although Mum does take me clothes shopping in Watford and strongly guides me towards her choice of jumpers.
Sun 22: Easter's late this year. My grandmother comes round to partake of roast turkey, then spends the entire afternoon watching The Sound of Music. At Evensong the vicar cuts the sermon short so that the congregation can rush home to watch the premiere of Chariots Of Fire on BBC1. (We haven't bought a video recorder yet, that's still six months away).
Mon 23: It's been the warmest Easter since 1949, topping 20°C. Leftover turkey for lunch. Nextdoor have erected a Vote Conservative sign in their front garden.
Tue 24: I need a haircut so walk to Headhunters in Watford but it turns out they're closed on Tuesdays so I have to risk the old bloke on New Road. The tortoise is out of hibernation and chomping cucumber with gusto.

Wed 25: Back to university, which seems a bit soon after a bank holiday but Easter was very late this year. Aghast to discover that our rooms got used by a conference over the break and not everything I left behind is still there. There are black lumps in my sugar. I'm particularly annoyed to have lost my zodiac mug, which OK yes was a freebie from a petrol station but I loved it. On the positive side I appear to have gained two new mugs (one of which I later gave to my Dad and he still uses it for his black coffee almost every day).
Thu 26: Some fairly desperate last minute cramming because there are exams tomorrow. Used my postal vote to vote for my former music teacher.
Fri 27: I revised some dead cert questions yesterday but only three of them came up. Could have done better. Afterwards went clothes shopping without parental supervision, and blimey I really want that black and white check shirt from Burton. Skip the offer of spending Friday night at a pub in Marston and instead end up reading a selection of Asterix books. (I really should go back and try being a student again, I'd make such a better job of it).
Sat 28: That's better. Jazz and cocktails in the college garden, a pint at the King's Arms with the SDP contingent, more beers at the Turf and finally all round to Derek's for records and a little wine. Derek has his own Wikipedia page these days.
Sun 29: Watch our team get beaten on University Challenge, then go punting. I'm more than happy to let everyone else do the propelling, and when I do finally have a go we end up going round in circles before my turn is mercifully cut short by two alsatians on the riverbank.
Mon 30: Lectures restart and this term's grant cheque arrives. It's for £349, £238 of which will be going on food and accommodation. Go for a burger at Huckleberry's because the government are slapping 15% VAT on it tomorrow. Tomorrow is also May Morning so this is the night everyone stays up late, and I fill the intervening hours playing Snapper on Andy's BBC Micro, drinking beers down the pub with Gerry, playing Offshore Oilstrike with Felicity and watching Airplane in the common room with Patrick. May'll be better...

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