Thursday, August 25, 2011

1979: Although nothing seems right

On the way back from the beach, we'd popped in on Great Auntie Beryl and Great Uncle Alec in Christchurch. I'd only seen them once before at their daughter's wedding in 1973, the first wedding I went to and the last one until 1988 (Since then I've been to at least one a year). And I never saw them again.

But what really sticks in my mind is that on this Bank Holiday Monday, we heard the news on the way home that Lord Mountbatten had died. Mum remarked that these types of tragedies always happened on bank holidays. I begged to differ then as I do now - I can't think of anything else of that magnitude that happened over a bank holiday. Can you?

My mind was elsewhere, however, because the very next day it was back to school. Such an abrupt end to a very long summer holiday. You try really hard not to let those back to school displays in shop windows get you down but it's always at the back of your mind. Mrs P and I noticed a large poster advertaising the Oxford intrument box in WH Smith's window in Jersey at the weekend, and we both shuddered. That hateful triumvirate of protractor, set square and compass - they still fill me with dread. I still couldn't tell you how to use a protractor and thankfully I'll never need to know.

I wasn't much looking forward to going back to school. Everything was changing. I was 15, it was the final O level year, friends were shifting about, joining other groups, Two-Tone was in full swing and I desperately needed the fashions, there were rumblings we were moving abroad and I generally felt rather unsettled. Where was I going with my life? I really didn't want to think about it.

So here's a back to school song for you if ever there was one.


  1. I remember that Bank Holiday incredibly vividly (it was actually 1979). I had no idea who Mountbatten was, being only six, but it was soon obvious this was a very big story.

    How can you not know how to use a protractor? How have you gone through your life without the ability to measure an angle?

  2. Ameded Chris. Feelings remain the same.

    I honestly can't remember how to use a projector.

  3. As a complete maths nerd, I had a full circle protractor at one point. And knew what to do with it (classroom frisbee for one thing).

  4. P.S. They've had to install Chrome at work for another project so I can comment again!

  5. Didn't the Queen Mum die on a bank holiday (possibly Easter)? I only remember it because I was away in Devon with some mates at the time and when we came back to our B&B after a day's walking, the landlady solemnly announced the news and we had to pretend we cared.

  6. Glad to have you back Simon!

    You know, you're right, RS, as I was in Cambridge on that day and we saw it through a neighbour's window as we got out of the car.

  7. I was in Ireland, packed off there on one of my last family holidays, when Mountbatten was killed. It was very strange being exposed to the full spectrum of Irish responses from people overhearing my accent when I was out and about. Everything from horrified shame to idiotic triumphalism. It got so bad I started to fake an Irish accent after two days of it, just so people would leave me alone.

    I was thrilled by the advent of Gary Numan, mind. It felt like the start of something new and exciting. And indeed, there would be mass eyeliner-wearing by boys within the year. Possibly not in Ireland.

  8. And possibly not in Chandler's Ford either.