What I Think About What I Do On Monday It seems perverse that we spent Wednesday morning writing about what we do on Monday, but maybe that was the point. Being able to demonstrate we could remember two days ago and that we understood the concept of routine, that we were capable of discriminating between historical fact and wishful thinking. Or maybe Mr Geraghty was just looking for feedback and suggestions? If so, I doubt he took any of mine on board. What’s really happening here though is that I’m starting to develop a new voice. Even though most of the early stuff I wrote at Fairburn is factual rather than fictional, I don’t think I actually enjoyed writing about real life very much. Whenever I got free rein to write whatever I like (which, in January 1980, is just about to kick off in a massive way), I rarely if ever chose to write about anything real, much preferring the bizarre, violent fantasy world in my head. But if I was asked to write about real life, I started to realise I had a choice - do I just write down the basic facts one after the other? Or do I write something a little more emotional? Maybe even with a sense of humour? This is a crude attempt at doing all three, in a framework handily provided to me by Mr Geraghty’s snappy title. The whole thing is set up as a series of pairs - what I do on Monday, followed by what I’d rather do instead. It’s a generous structure, offering me the opportunity to go on what seems like a lugubrious rant about the tedium of Mondays. The language is awkward and the ideas don’t always land, but it’s deeply revealing and much more sophisticated than anything I’d written up to this point. I can’t imagine I actually hated Mondays that much. I’ve obviously decided to play the title out to the letter and come up with something I’d rather do for every single instance. It conjures up a character for whom the grass is always greener - he spends the whole of hymn practice wanting to play outside, then when he finally gets the chance, he’d rather go home instead. He’d rather do Topic than Maths, but rather not do Topic at all when it comes down to it. Nothing is remotely satisfying, The only thing he likes is his daydreams. Truth is, I really do recognise myself in that. At my worst, nothing is ever satisfactory and I can be very hard to please. I’ve spent my whole life pursuing goals which, as soon as I achieve them, no longer interest me. A bit like Monkey, the Monkey King in the Japanese TV show Monkey. But even though a lot of it is obviously true - I genuinely didn’t enjoy Maths or hymn practice, and I probably did spend all day wishing it was time for Blake’s 7 - I still think I exaggerated it for comic effect. Unlike the previous piece in which things are clearly happening around me that I’m not completely aware of, or other pieces in which I reveal much more about my state of mind than I think I’m letting on, here I’m deliberately trying to make myself seem far less reasonable than I actually was. What I Listed in What I Do On Monday As for the specifics, all these things get a mention: Sherburn Baths: the swimming baths at Sherburn High School, which I dreaded with every fibre of my being. There’s a detailed description of my traumatic first trip here. The shame is forever seared into my brain. It took the whole of my time at Fairburn to be able to swim the length of the pool, but I did eventually manage it. Then never swam again. My Battle Cruiser: this is the Micronauts Battle Cruiser I got for Christmas - clearly at this point, my favourite toy, though I’d change my mind before too long. Watch out for more about the Micronauts as the term rolls on. Merry-Go-Round: confirmation that we did actually watch this regularly, every Monday. Sometimes we wrote about it, like this piece about Luddenden. This continued right the way through my time at Fairburn. Blake’s Seven: my favourite TV show at the time (at least for the duration of the then- current series), which was just about to inspire one of my biggest, stupidest stories. Worzel Gummidge: not the excellent and slightly disturbing TV series with Jon Pertwee which was broadcast every Sunday, but Mr Geraghty reading out the book by Barbara Euphan Todd, which was probably brilliant, but obviously happening at a time of day when we’d all rather be somewhere else. At least those moments gave us a chance to stare into space and think about something else. So when I say “I’d rather think it was Saturday,” maybe that’s exactly what I was doing. What I Ate on Monday Can’t let this pass without talking briefly about food. The school dinners were indeed “awful” but to be fair, I was actually quite relieved when I got to Fairburn. The dinners at my previous school in Airedale were utterly foul, having made me physically sick on several occasions - once so severely, I’m amazed we didn’t sue them. They also operated a zero tolerance policy with children who didn’t finish their dinners and didn’t give you an option to refuse one either, so I very often found myself having to face the wall with my hands on my head as a punishment for not having eaten that day’s mince and kidney suet. Far preferable to actually eating the damn stuff. Towards the end, I learned to pocket the stuff I didn’t like and ditch it in the bin afterwards, which solved a lot of problems, but probably wasn’t good for my trousers. So Fairburn was culinary heaven by comparison. I still didn’t like the jam roly poly, or the pink custard, but nine times out of ten, I could get through the whole lunch hour without vomiting, and that was a serious relief. Occasionally, they’d even serve something we all genuinely liked - chocolate corn flakes being the one I remember most. (I also had a secret love for semolina, which none of the other kids shared, but it wasn’t as nice as the stuff I had at home and I never told the other kids about my affliction). We had the same couple of dinner ladies come in all the time. No idea if they were volunteers but I’ve got a vague memory one of them might have been David Bramley’s Mum. The one I remember most though was a short, middle-aged woman with curly hair and big round glasses. She was probably alright really but I know we all found her a bit bossy - she had quite a shrill voice and always seemed to be hurrying us up or telling us off. I just can’t quite remember her name - I’ve got two names in my head and they’re both probably wrong. It might have been Mrs Bridges, because I think we used to call her ‘Mrs Britches’ - but Mrs Bridges is the name of the cook in Upstairs Downstairs so I’m probably getting mixed up. I also remember her being called Mrs Sugden - but that’s possibly because she reminded us of Mollie Sugden. As for my favourite meal - chicken, rissoles and baked beans - until I read this as an adult, I’d completely forgotten rissoles even existed. Birds Eye used to do frozen ones - a bit like beefburgers, but made from chopped up meat (usually beef mince) and stuff (rice? barley?) wrapped in breadcrumbs - and they were a staple at our house, presumably up to the point they stopped making them. No matter how vile they might sound right now, I have to accept the evidence here - they were obviously one of my three favourite foods. There’s more evidence of how much I liked chicken in one of my Maths books, weirdly, but that hasn’t happened yet. And baked beans - yes, as a lifelong hater of over-boiled crap, I can definitely believe they were my favourite ‘vegetable’. It wasn’t really until I left home and fled for other places that I realised vegetables didn’t have to be boiled for thirty minutes before you ate them, and might actually be nice if you made them another way. But right now, I’m eight years old, and that revelation is many, many years away…
What I Do On Monday
What I Do on Monday - and What I'd Like to Do
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
Bonfire Night Waen’s first time at the annual village fireworks display
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
TOPIC 2 The one where it all kicks off
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
TOPIC 1 He knows the names of all the dinosaurs
Great Space Battles Three mighty empires take their first steps into outer space
FAIRBURN The place where I wrote all this rubbish
SCIENCE 1 Sept 1979 - Mar 1980
THE SCHOOL DINING HALL
Fairburn School dining room, 1980. Far table: ?, Caron Chadwick, Kay Wright, Sarah Sunderland; Middle: Simon Briggs, Mark Hudson, Jason Bastow, Joanne Dobson; Near: Helen Easter, Gerald Swaby, Waen Shepherd, Paul Mattison, Darren Ridley, Aaron Ross Me and Simon Briggs making things in the school dining room, 1980. Good view of the A1 footbridge through the window
Darth Vader An autograph from a genuine stand-in
Clarke Hall The place and time where it all began… September 1679?
Christmas 1979 Can Waen last the night without opening his presents?
Sheet Lightning Waen and his Gran shelter from the sheet- shaped storm
Waen Shepherd 2 Waen’s heroic antics in the far-flung future of 2007 AD!
The Fugitive A man runs - but who is he? And what is he running from?
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Happy Easter! A home made Easter card I made for my Mum and Dad
What I Do On Monday
 What I Do on Monday - and What I'd Like to Do
What I Think About What I Do On Monday It seems perverse that we spent Wednesday morning writing about what we do on Monday, but maybe that was the point. Being able to demonstrate we could remember two days ago and that we understood the concept of routine, that we were capable of discriminating between historical fact and wishful thinking. Or maybe Mr Geraghty was just looking for feedback and suggestions? If so, I doubt he took any of mine on board. What’s really happening here though is that I’m starting to develop a new voice. Even though most of the early stuff I wrote at Fairburn is factual rather than fictional, I don’t think I actually enjoyed writing about real life very much. Whenever I got free rein to write whatever I like (which, in January 1980, is just about to kick off in a massive way), I rarely if ever chose to write about anything real, much preferring the bizarre, violent fantasy world in my head. But if I was asked to write about real life, I started to realise I had a choice - do I just write down the basic facts one after the other? Or do I write something a little more emotional? Maybe even with a sense of humour? This is a crude attempt at doing all three, in a framework handily provided to me by Mr Geraghty’s snappy title. The whole thing is set up as a series of pairs - what I do on Monday, followed by what I’d rather do instead. It’s a generous structure, offering me the opportunity to go on what seems like a lugubrious rant about the tedium of Mondays. The language is awkward and the ideas don’t always land, but it’s deeply revealing and much more sophisticated than anything I’d written up to this point. I can’t imagine I actually hated Mondays that much. I’ve obviously decided to play the title out to the letter and come up with something I’d rather do for every single instance. It conjures up a character for whom the grass is always greener - he spends the whole of hymn practice wanting to play outside, then when he finally gets the chance, he’d rather go home instead. He’d rather do Topic than Maths, but rather not do Topic at all when it comes down to it. Nothing is remotely satisfying, The only thing he likes is his daydreams. Truth is, I really do recognise myself in that. At my worst, nothing is ever satisfactory and I can be very hard to please. I’ve spent my whole life pursuing goals which, as soon as I achieve them, no longer interest me. A bit like Monkey, the Monkey King in the Japanese TV show Monkey. But even though a lot of it is obviously true - I genuinely didn’t enjoy Maths or hymn practice, and I probably did spend all day wishing it was time for Blake’s 7 - I still think I exaggerated it for comic effect. Unlike the previous piece in which things are clearly happening around me that I’m not completely aware of, or other pieces in which I reveal much more about my state of mind than I think I’m letting on, here I’m deliberately trying to make myself seem far less reasonable than I actually was. What I Listed in What I Do On Monday As for the specifics, all these things get a mention: Sherburn Baths: the swimming baths at Sherburn High School, which I dreaded with every fibre of my being. There’s a detailed description of my traumatic first trip here. The shame is forever seared into my brain. It took the whole of my time at Fairburn to be able to swim the length of the pool, but I did eventually manage it. Then never swam again. My Battle Cruiser: this is the Micronauts Battle Cruiser I got for Christmas - clearly at this point, my favourite toy, though I’d change my mind before too long. Watch out for more about the Micronauts as the term rolls on. Merry-Go-Round: confirmation that we did actually watch this regularly, every Monday. Sometimes we wrote about it, like this piece about Luddenden. This continued right the way through my time at Fairburn. Blake’s Seven: my favourite TV show at the time (at least for the duration of the then-current series), which was just about to inspire one of my biggest, stupidest stories. Worzel Gummidge: not the excellent and slightly disturbing TV series with Jon Pertwee which was broadcast every Sunday, but Mr Geraghty reading out the book by Barbara Euphan Todd, which was probably brilliant, but obviously happening at a time of day when we’d all rather be somewhere else. At least those moments gave us a chance to stare into space and think about something else. So when I say “I’d rather think it was Saturday,” maybe that’s exactly what I was doing. What I Ate on Monday Can’t let this pass without talking briefly about food. The school dinners were indeed “awful” but to be fair, I was actually quite relieved when I got to Fairburn. The dinners at my previous school in Airedale were utterly foul, having made me physically sick on several occasions - once so severely, I’m amazed we didn’t sue them. They also operated a zero tolerance policy with children who didn’t finish their dinners and didn’t give you an option to refuse one either, so I very often found myself having to face the wall with my hands on my head as a punishment for not having eaten that day’s mince and kidney suet. Far preferable to actually eating the damn stuff. Towards the end, I learned to pocket the stuff I didn’t like and ditch it in the bin afterwards, which solved a lot of problems, but probably wasn’t good for my trousers. So Fairburn was culinary heaven by comparison. I still didn’t like the jam roly poly, or the pink custard, but nine times out of ten, I could get through the whole lunch hour without vomiting, and that was a serious relief. Occasionally, they’d even serve something we all genuinely liked - chocolate corn flakes being the one I remember most. (I also had a secret love for semolina, which none of the other kids shared, but it wasn’t as nice as the stuff I had at home and I never told the other kids about my affliction). We had the same couple of dinner ladies come in all the time. No idea if they were volunteers but I’ve got a vague memory one of them might have been David Bramley’s Mum. The one I remember most though was a short, middle-aged woman with curly hair and big round glasses. She was probably alright really but I know we all found her a bit bossy - she had quite a shrill voice and always seemed to be hurrying us up or telling us off. I just can’t quite remember her name - I’ve got two names in my head and they’re both probably wrong. It might have been Mrs Bridges, because I think we used to call her ‘Mrs Britches’ - but Mrs Bridges is the name of the cook in Upstairs Downstairs so I’m probably getting mixed up. I also remember her being called Mrs Sugden - but that’s possibly because she reminded us of Mollie Sugden. As for my favourite meal - chicken, rissoles and baked beans - until I read this as an adult, I’d completely forgotten rissoles even existed. Birds Eye used to do frozen ones - a bit like beefburgers, but made from chopped up meat (usually beef mince) and stuff (rice? barley?) wrapped in breadcrumbs - and they were a staple at our house, presumably up to the point they stopped making them. No matter how vile they might sound right now, I have to accept the evidence here - they were obviously one of my three favourite foods. There’s more evidence of how much I liked chicken in one of my Maths books, weirdly, but that hasn’t happened yet. And baked beans - yes, as a lifelong hater of over-boiled crap, I can definitely believe they were my favourite ‘vegetable’. It wasn’t really until I left home and fled for other places that I realised vegetables didn’t have to be boiled for thirty minutes before you ate them, and might actually be nice if you made them another way. But right now, I’m eight years old, and that revelation is many, many years away…
THE SCHOOL DINING HALL
Fairburn School dining room, 1980. Far table: ?, Caron Chadwick, Kay Wright, Sarah Sunderland; Middle: Simon Briggs, Mark Hudson, Jason Bastow, Joanne Dobson; Near: Helen Easter, Gerald Swaby, Waen Shepherd, Paul Mattison, Darren Ridley, Aaron Ross Me and Simon Briggs making things in the school dining room, 1980. Good view of the A1 footbridge through the window
The Forgotten World John and Mick fall foul of some extreme potholing
String Orchestra A visit from the North Yorkshire County Council Orchestra
TOPIC 2 The one where it all kicks off
TERM 1 A day-by-day account of Waen’s first term at Fairburn School
TERM 2 The birth of the 1980s - Blake’s 7, Blondie and battles in space
Great Space Battles Three mighty empires take their first steps into outer space
Ward’s 7 John Ward and his band of rebels fight the evil Federation
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