Tuesday 3rd August 1993

Today we went to the play scheme up at the farm.  I hung around with Rosa today.  I like Rosa.  I did clay first I made a snake.  Then I did five wholemeal bread buns with Andrea in the house.  I had dinner with Rosa.  Then in the afternoon I made biscuits.  At quarter to three we tidied up and play parachutes in the front garden.  We rolled the parachute up so much then we bumped people on it.  Then Sarah gave us all a biscuit then we went home.  It was fun at Lower Shaw Farm. We’re going to the farm tomorrow.  I want to do juggling and paint my snake tomorrow.

I kept the clay snake for years but eventually it started to crumble, the tail snapped off and it ended up in the bin.  It’s one of the few things I’ve actually thrown away as I take after my Mum in the hoarding stakes.  I only recently threw away a pot which contained teeth I had removed when I was 12 but I still have the wisdom tooth I had removed early this year! 


I’m not obsessed with teeth I hasten to add, I just like keeping hold of things.  I have nearly every birthday card I’ve ever been given, a shoebox full of bookmarks which I’ve been collecting since I was six, several old mobile phones and at least 50 balls of yarn.  I have eclectic taste to say the least.

I’m not in touch with Rosa but I know that she is now a successful entrepreneur running her own business Rosa Bloom ‘a travelling boutique which tours the UK festival circuit each summer, with its quirky collection of circus, burlesque, theatrical, vintage-inspired costumes, clothing, and accessories!  This online shop brings you a little taster of the finest treats from the Bloom collections. Everything contained within is exclusively designed by Rosa Bloom, and made by tailors and artisans in Bali, Indonesia, where Rosa Bloom works one-on-one with the producers, ensuring fairly-traded goods, made to a high level of detailed workmanship.’  http://www.rosabloom.bigcartel.com/

She channelled her eccentricities into a business, I’m just headed for crazy cat lady status at some point!

Monday 2nd August 1993

Today it was my dads birthday.  We got up and gave him our presents.  Then we rang the play scheme people.  And now we’re going to the farm on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We went to Town Gardens it was fun.  We saw an avairy it was lovely.

I’ve never been keen on early mornings so it shows how much I love my Dad that I got up at 7.25am during the holidays.  Although how reliable that is I don’t know as I couldn’t really tell the time until I was at secondary school.  I also had trouble with my shoelaces.  What I lacked in practical skills I made up for with a creative flair.  My Mum says I’m special.

Lower Shaw Farm in West Swindon played an important role in our childhood.  Nina went to kindergarten there, Adam used to play on the rope swing in the barn and we all went to the summer play scheme when we could afford it.  The Farm website notes: ‘Once home to seventy black and white cows, the farm is now a 3-acre oasis in an area of suburban development. It is run as a co-operative by residents Andrea, Matt, and a phenomenal team of helpers from near and far. Its outbuildings have been converted to meeting rooms, dormitories, and workshops. With its large vegetable, herb, and flower gardens, its shrubs and trees, its puddles and ponds, hens and ducks, black and white sheep, friendly pigs, and unspoilt areas for play and exploration, the farm has developed an atmosphere and character of its own. Its outer ramshackle appearance masks an inner order and warmth. It’s sort of wild, welcoming, and very nice!’

It really is very beautiful and still has children’s activity days along with cooking courses, yoga, crafts and Festival of Literature events, do visit if you can!


Sunday 1st August 1993

Today we did nothing much. Me, Nina and Adam played a game with the dolls.  We pretended to live in Miami, and we all put our swimming cossies on.  Then Nina went out with Claire and Emma.  Adam went out with Damon.  I was left on my own to watch EastEnders.  During EastEnders I had the idea of making a thertre.  I found a box and sorted out some card.  I got a book to write the plays in, and then Nina, Claire and Emma came in the back garden.  I went out and Adam tied me to the swing.  I came in for a bath.  Then after the story we wrapped my dads presents.

I think I may have had too high expectations for the summer holiday as I did a lot of complaining about the lack of anything to do.  My imagination obviously knew no bounds though – I’ve never been to Miami and I can’t swim but in my fantasy world all things were possible!  However, my favourite bit of this diary entry has to be the illustration of the swing and ropes I was tied up with.  Adam was briefly in the Boy’s Brigade but his knot skills can’t have been up to much as I evidently escaped without any help as my Mum doesn’t remember this.

Ever one for a bit of amateur dramatics I mentioned ‘I was left on my own’ and then proceeded to make a theatre although I’m not entirely sure what I achieved.  It can’t have been a full size replica of Walford, or even Albert Square, as it was only a crisp box and some bits of cardboard.  Blue Peter had a lot to answer for making it look so easy but I don’t think you could build a whole set from some loo rolls and sticky-back plastic.


Unfortunately there is no photographic evidence of what I actually created but it probably looked a lot like the photo above.  Probably.

Saturday 31st July 1993

Today we did nothing much.  We played Battle Ships in the afternoon.  We called ours Space Ships.  Me and Adam won because Adam cheated twice and I cheated six times.  Me and Adam had ten strikes each.  I drew 15 planets Nina drew 9.

I’m sure my parents hoped that as the eldest I would set my siblings a good example in life.  Instead I taught them how to cheat and took advantage of the fact that Nina is four and half years younger than me and screwed her over!  I don’t remember making this game but I have always been a fan of board games and winding my sister up, although possibly not in that order.  Poor Nina has been very long-suffering and it’s a surprise she still talks to me.  

Mum used to help Nina when we played Scrabble so she stood a fighting chance but  Monopoly frequently ended in a paddy.  I used to hide money under the board or in my lap so Nina would think she was winning, or at least not losing, and then I’d suddenly produce hundreds of pounds and buy the properties she needed.   Then when she realised she’d just pack it all up mid-game and that was the end of that!

Another game that used to annoy her was Frustration which she pronounced Frusteration and the whole injustice of the game made her cry on occasion.  The whole principle of the game was that if you landed on another player’s piece you could make them return to the beginning.  I’m sure she thought I was just being unnecessarily mean!  I certainly didn’t look like the evil/demented child on the front of the box though!


Friday 30th July 1993

Today Adam went ice skating.  Our plan was to go ice skating then while Adam was skating I was supposed to go in the library.  But are plans were mixed up and we had a chippie in the park.  But I still got to go in the library.  When Adam went ice skating it was a disco.  I had a drink.

A non-alcoholic drink I hastened to add.  Possibly Orangina.  I loved that when I was a kid but it was pretty expensive.  I had some recently for a special occasion – it was horrible.  I think it was around this time that my Mum decided to ban my brother from drinking coke.  I don’t know if it was the sugar or the cocktail of E numbers but he used to get really horrible when he’d had coke and Mum got sick of the arguments.  (If I ever become famous I’m going to re-write that sentence to remove the reference to drinking coke and make it sound like he had a drug habit at 8, otherwise this diary is not going to cut it alongside other celebrity memoirs.) 

I quite liked it when the ice-skating was a disco, for a start they turned the lights down and put the coloured spotlights on, that made it more difficult for people to see me falling over!

Someone there had their finger on the musical pulse if my drawing accurately reflects one of the song choices – who doesn’t like Billy Ray Cyrus?!  

Thursday 29th July 1993

Today we went in to town to buy my dads birthday presents we brought him a watch which was really nice.  We spent ages in the Body Shop looking for something else.  Adventually we brought an orange flannel an orange soap and fuzzy peach bath lotion.  We had dinner in Macdonalds we ate in the blondie park and there were some men who scared me.  We went to Queens Park and saw lots of fishes.  We did some shopping and came home.

I don’t know if my Dad particularly wanted to smell like a fuzzy peach – it hardly strikes me as a masculine scent.  This might be one of those cases where I bought something that I secretly wanted myself.  Maybe I had my eye on the watch too?  No, that’s not likely, I couldn’t tell the time at 10, I still struggle now!

Once again I’m complaining about being scared of something.  I don’t remember spending my childhood in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear, I think maybe I was trying to add some drama and tension to my life story.  The Blondini Park was what we sometimes called the rocks which were outside McDonalds in Swindon Town Centre – an area where the drunks used to congregate and obviously scare small children. 

You can see a photo of the Blondini statue being unveiled in 1987 on the excellent flickr site from the Swindon Collection at Central Library: http://www.flickr.com/photos/swindonlocal/6672481469/

I only ever remember it looking bashed about and covered in graffiti and this is probably closer to what it looked like in 1993:

The Link Magazine explains how the statue came to be there in first place: http://www.swindonlink.com/news/renovated-blondinis-unveiled-at-revamped-recreation-ground

In 2005 the rocks and Blondini statue were removed, a giant television screen stuck on the side of the car park and the drunks moved around the corner to Fleming Way.  Swindon Borough Council proudly declared the area revamped and named it Wharf Green (there’s no wharf/quay/docks/shipyards/water – and people say the Council doesn’t have a sense of humour).

Wednesday 28th July 1993

Today we went to the park behind Dillons where I met Fiona and Donna.  Fiona and Donna found a hedgehog and called it Fido, Fiona Fi and Donna Do.  It was trapped in the park and I had to get someone to get it out.  And Fiona and Donna were in a right mood.  Then I started to make a grass house, I did the two bedrooms and the tolit and the landing.  Then Kim came and interrupted and we left the house alone.

I give up!  Any attempt to make myself sound even vaguely cool will always fail because my diary outs me as a strange little geek with an amazing ability to wind people up! 

Goodness knows why I felt I had to get someone to rescue the hedgehog and ruin everyone’s fun.  I don’t even know who I went to get – a random passer-by?  That must have been an odd conversation.  I hope the hedgehog appreciated the sacrifices I made for it and went on to live a long and happy life. 

After I ruined their morning I then proceeded to make a grass house – did I learn nothing from the tale of the three little pigs?  Maybe I was aiming for something like this but my ambition outstripped my ability.


Tuesday 27th July 1993

We went ice skating today.  My mum met her friend there.  I liked the look of Dawn (my mums friends daughter) but she didn’t seem to want to know me.  I came off the rink half way through.  Because the teenagers kept wizzing in front of me and I didn’t like it.  We had dinner in the Red Baloon restaurant.  It was O.K.

I really do paint myself as a bit of a Billy No Mates in my diary which I don’t think is completely accurate.  Oh, ok, maybe it is!  I spent the summer either reading or writing in my diary so it’s no surprise no-one wanted to play with me.  I bet Samuel Pepys was exactly the same.  Anyway, I don’t even remember Dawn now so to quote Alan Partridge ‘needless to say I had the last laugh’. 

My brother loved ice-skating and hated reading so I think we went skating after the library as compensation.  I was hopeless as I have very little sense of balance, I still manage to fall out of bed on occasion.  My fear of slipping over on the ice-rink has now turned into a general fear of slipping over on the ice during winter.  This is a very serious fear, I even asked me Dad to look in the back of the Sunday papers for those adverts for those spikey things to put over your shoes – like this:

Sometimes I think my parents must despair of me!

Monday 26th July 1993

Today we went to Lydiard Park.  We had to go through the subway and it looks quite nice.  It’s not finished yet but most is done.  When we arrived we had a picnic under a tree. Then we played tennis.  We went in the park it was packed.  I didn’t play at first when we got to the Tarzan Trail I brightened up.  I can go over the monkey bars now.  There were some girls on the slide, who got right up my nose.  They kept putting sand on the slide.  We went in the shop and me and Adam brought an eyeball (an eyeball is chewing gum).  Nina brought a sweet necklace and broke it.  So she brought a packet of sweets.  Me and Adam got a green thing that tasted like fizzy lime.  My mum said ‘yuck’.  We started to walk home and I sketched a gate with trees around it.  Then I had a quick game of tennis with Adam.  We got home put the telly on and then my dad came home.

Another informative diary entry from ten-year-old me.  I was worried future generations would not understand some of my cultural references so explained that an eyeball was chewing gum lest anyone think that in the early 90s children had cannibalistic tendencies.  I had a peculiar turn of phrase for someone so young as ‘I brightened up’ and some girls ‘got right up my nose’.  I think I was born middle aged and in my pre-teens had more in common with pensioners than my peers.

I didn’t feel the need to explain the subway comment as I obviously thought it would speak for itself, turns out I was wrong.  My primary school, Salt Way (since closed) had an artist in residence for a term and her task was to work with the children to design and paint a mural for the underpass/subway.  My Mum remembered that the artist’s name was Marie Brett which I had forgotten although I can clearly picture her.  Unfortunately we can’t find any photos of the finished artwork and just over a year after it was completed it was vandalised and damaged before being removed and painted over in a lovely shade of battleship grey.  Now you’d never know there had been anything there.  The Tarzan Trail, an obstacle course of playground equipment, has also gone as the park was demolished and a new one built nearer to the visitors Centre.

Now I feel really old, that’s my school, my childhood artwork and my playground all disappeared in the past 19 years. 

I’m not a Madonna fan but I remember seeing the film ‘A League of Their Own’ and this was one of the songs on the soundtrack, it was released in 1992 but I think we saw it the following year, seems kind of apt!

Sunday 25th July 1993

Today we never did anything.  We watched Home Alone and then the Simpsons which I don’t get.  We played Hide and Seek then had dinner then had a bath.  I had to go in last.

I love the innocence in my comments about The Simpsons, the jokes went straight over my head so I wasn’t sure if it was funny and if it wasn’t then I wasn’t sure what the point of it was.  As I got older I appreciated the wit and satire but then it kind of went off the boil and I can’t remember the last time I watched it.  I’m generally not that big on cartoons/animation – I hate South Park, Family Guy and American Dad but I did really like Futurama, it must appeal to my inner geek! 

We played Hide and Seek in the house which was quite something as we had a very small three bedroom house.  The main hiding places were behind chairs, under the kitchen table, behind the curtains, in the bath and under beds.  It was usually quite a short lived game and shows we must have been really bored.

Does anyone else remember sharing bathwater with siblings?  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t yellow by the time I got in as we were only ever in there long enough to get vaguely clean – none of us enjoyed baths as kids.  By the time I was a teenager I was spending an hour in there on a Sunday night playing the Top 40 on my radio which had to be pretty loud for me to hear it through the wall – my parents were very long suffering.  When Titanic came out I fell in love with Leonardo DiCaprio and would play the soundtrack through the wall, wallowing in the bath thinking cheery thoughts about drowning with Jack.  As I said, my parents and siblings were very long suffering!