Final Year 1987 to 1988

Mrs P was in India. I'd been given the big room at the front - and I loved it. the door to the room was right next to the front door. We had new housemates - tony, dan et al. Loads of people came through the house and if I left my door open I saw who came in and usually passed a few pleasantries. that way I got to know loads of new people. A blessing in the first term, a curse later in the year after I decided to withdraw back into myself.

Mark's story about the creatures that lived in my sofa - he'd helped make my room habitable through the summer.

The start of my social souring was to do with a girl I fancied and made idiot of myself. I did the classic man thing where I thought a girl was interested in me just cos she was being friendly and normal towards me.
She was in first year. I met her going out with Dan and Tony, and we got on well. I got invited/ dragged back to her room early on and we snogged. She took me from the cellar bar early, leading me by the hand, and took me to her room. So it may not have been entirely my imagination. After that I turned up at her room unannounced. She was with her friends and about to go out shopping so I went too. One of her friends was Jayne – spelt like the band that we saw about this time in TP main hall.
It was a bit humiliating in the club that night when she informed me that she wasn’t interested, that I’d imagined it all. In fact I made it worse by quoting the overdramatic Morrissey from the latest Smiths LP.
I think I took it all far too seriously though, and the effect it had on me eventually killed my social life. I went back to my normal dorky existence soon after xmas. I couldn’t get on with Tony or Dan and they soon moved out.
I was on nodding terms with Jayne for a while, but soon took to blanking this crowd.

There was a night out to a pub - Lewisham and we ended up playing a truth or dare type game where we had to make a confession - and there were a few comments about what mine would be and who i fancied.

The odd thing is I had absolutely no mental map for getting to Lewisham then - or anywhere. We went on the bus. Someone clearly knew where we were going. I assume I followed everyone else back to Woolwich.

Geography - this is something that I was incredibly weak on despite being a cyclist, I didn't get out of woolwich and Plumstead much. Mostly cycled to lectures and back. The odd weekend I'd go a bit further, though don't remember ever taking the bike into London - just Kent and Sussex a few times. One ride I partcularly remember was heading south - and I think I went up woolwich Common, through Eltham, and I remember going through Mottingham. Mottingham road, red Hill where I checked the map and somehow took a swing out towards Biggin Hill airport, and yet avoided going into Bromley itself.

So about 6 or 7 years later when I was driven along Red Hill by S. for the first time, the area seemed strangely familiar to me. Odd to suddenly find somewhere you had no place for in your mental map suddenly slotting in somewhere. Like making a major breakthrough with a difficult jigsaw.

Another bike ride - in 1988 - a tremendous epic bike ride - the like of which I would not repeat, let alone surpass, for another 18/19 years. I set off in a pair of jeans with just a credit card, and a little cash, no tools, water or food. It may have been the same ride as above - after leaving Greater London I wound my way southwards eventually ending up in Brighton. I did take my walkman with me and had Quadrophenia playing on it. I listened to "I am the man who feeds the pigs" as I passed a pig farm. there was a level of synchronicity. rode along Beach Head and sparked a mini panic as everyone in the watch tower was standing up watching me while i peered down at the bottom of the cliff.
then down into Eastbourne and finally headed back north. Now I started to struggle but was quite happy and prepared to jump on a train at any point.
My legs were like jelly by the time I got back to Sevenoaks - 120 miles cycling and I was done in. So - train time. Only trouble was that the train was not running and I was told I could not take bike onto replacement bus. I had to argue an persuade - it was the only way I was going to get home. Eventually the guy let me on with the bike. Should have left the bike tbh as it never got used again after that. It was alreayd on its last legs and this ride finished it. The frame broke as well as all the other brake and gear related issues.

It was right at the end of term though and Terry got me a new abandoned bike in the summer, which was equally crap, but got me by until I had money to buy a decent one for myself.

Anyway - I enjoyed the room - had a tv and a stereo. Friday nights were great. A spell in the bar, and then back for the chart show, more beer, and then out with the gang. After a few weeks of this I was having nightmares, my throat was hoarse and i just felt geneuinely grotty. I wondered how people could keep this up for months on end. I had to stop. I had a series of nightmares where I was attacked by somehting powerful and violent, with teeth and claws. "it was that girl" was one quip.

18th November, in evening, there was a terrible disaster at Kings Cross. I was nowhere nar it at the time and nor was anyone I knew. but it makes you dunnit?
It was also to drastically change the environment of my future job - nearly a year away; I joined LUL right at the height of its knee-jerk reaction to this event. Instead of enacting one of the recommendations in the report into the fire, it enacted all of them, which was pointless, stupid, and expensive. fortunately in time, sanity emerged from the madness.

After a while I found myself cutitng off from Tony and Dan, was awkward around them; and stopped talkign to them. A familiar pattern which i seem not to be able to control. The tension was relieved when they decided to move out.

The lads from first year were now living out in Charlton overlooking the disused football ground. I remember visiting at least once. In Decemebr we had a second trip to the Netherlands. It coincided with my 21st birthday. CM was working out in Luxembourg by now and we met up with him out there. I got absolutely pissed on the ferry out - as it was my 21st. Had a bit of a party. Was very hungover the next day.

More music - Smiths; Sugarcubes; Wedding Present; the Fall;
South African Bill – he was scary and always wore the same jacket.

It was xmas in Plymouth as usual - gave my dad one of the glasses I managed to nick on the ferry.

1988 was to bring substantial changes in the world. A criminal US president who would start his war against the middle east just as soviet power began to collapse. USSR started economic restructuring from January 1st - gorby had been around since 1985 but had only carried out minor tinkering until now.


The new year brought an evil plague. Kylie Minogue, who I remembered from a few years before when my sister was obsessed with shite Aussie soaps, when she should have been doing her school work. Minogue was in the charts with the most god awful festering shite of an aborted record I had ever heard - at least since the days of Lena Zapharone over ten years before. I would have ignored it but it was on the otherwise fairly good Chart Show - which covered Indie stuff. In fact if I remember correctly this Kylie abomination was an indie record!! Anyway there was more to come. The plague was SAW and a string of boy bands that would take into the mid 90s. After that we got tv talent shows making a come-back...and W from SAW ended up appearing on them too. The apopalypse was approaching.

On January 8 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 140.58 points, or 6.85%, to close at 1,911.31 in a mini-crash. The 80s boom was coming to an end.
The Iran Contra thing was still rumbling on, something I’d followed in The Guardian through 84 and 85. On January 25 Bush and Dan Rather had a row over Bush's role in the Iran-Contra scandal, during a contentious television interview. Reagan’s criminal government had deliberately overridden the will of Congress and set up a terrorist training camp to undermine the popular, and soon to be elected, government of a distant country, for purely business and ideological reasons, but sold on the idea that a “communist” government in Nicaragua was some sort of threat to the world’s most powerful superpower. The whole administration was mired up in the conspiracy, but a few obvious fall guys took the rap, while Reagan, Bush and other senior politicians got off scott free.

Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Northand Vice Admiral John Poindexter were indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States in March.
And slowly, gradually, Oliver North was built up to be the main scapegoat for a conspiracy that involved the whole of Reagan's criminal administration, including Reagan himself.

On February 15 Red Dwarf premieres on BBC Two. I remained oblivious to this important development until after the summer. Dave started back at Thames Poly on a HND course and got a flat in one of the towers I could see from my room in the Halls.
February 29, a Nazi document implicated Kurt Waldheim in World War II deportations.
March 7, Operation Flavius: The Special Air Service fatally shot 3 unarmed Provisional Irish Republican Army members in Gibraltar. This fuelled more argments with my Dad when I visited. And I think with my conservative house-mates who thought it was OK for British soldiers to execute citizens of a neighbouring country, abroad, during peacetime, and not be held to account.
Bush was seen by me and the left generally as the devil on earth. Former head of CIA, former Nixonite, involved in Iran contra and other dirty shady operations - it was thought that all hell would break loose if he won the election. It wasn't an unjustified fear. Nixon's neo-cons got further entrenched into power, and Bush started his war in the Middle East - the war that was to continue through Clinton, and then explode out of control when his son attained power in 2001.

March 16 – The Halabja poison gas attackis carried out by Iraqi government forces. In the west politicians tried to blame Iran or tried to ignore it. Eventually the US was forced to make a weasly condemnation while they actually continued to support Iraq in every important way.

May 15 – Soviet war in Afghanistan: After more than 8 years of fighting, the Red Army begins withdrawing from Afghanistan.
May 24 – Section 28 (outlawing promotion of homosexuality in schools) is passed as law by Parliament in the United Kingdom.
June 6 – Lester Piggott stripped of his OBE <-- I laughed.
June 11 – Wembley Stadium hosts a concert featuring stars from the fields of music, comedy and film, in celebration of the 70th birthday of imprisoned ANC leader Nelson Mandela.
I remember taping the concert while in my room, back upstairs by now. It was the arrival of Tracey Chapman, though the concert generally wasn't much to write home about. Should still have the tape I made somewhere.
My finals loomed in June. I just had to knuckle down and try my best.
Final year project - there were quite exciting options available - or we could think of something original. I remember AI being on there, and I know at least one person who went for an AI rlated project. I didn't really get on with computes - and especially the system we had at Thames Poly - TP was one of the first institutions in the UK to acquire a computer, but consequently the system was probably one of the most dated in the UK by 1985-87. I chose to build a CRO multiplexer device. it was probably a good choice because it cemented in the principles of logic design which I needed again when I began work for LUL in October.
People had desk top systems by then that didn;t look much different from my first PC in 1997 - though a world away in terms of processing power. At least two of the guys I knew had quite sophistacted desk top computers. You needed a key to start them, like a car. Mark was one of the two - I used his computer occasionally. He let me write my final year project on it, otherwise it would have had to be hand written, as nearly all work was back then. He also had a very primitive computer game loaded on it, text based. Sometimes when it asked for a response I put in a swear word and it said something like "That's not nice!" or something quite camp. It made me laugh.
Bought the NME and 2000AD every week - though I think I was close to stopping 2000AD as it had become unsufferably trendy name-dropping bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Pixies - which wasn't 2000AD's job!
Mark's room was in the front basement this year. It was a cellar effectively but slightly converted to make it habitable - a bit like our house in Plymouth - South View Terrace. It had a tiny room in the front left corner - entirely concrete, might have been and ex coal bunker which I used to make my home brew. Must have started my first home brew in 1987 - bought all the bits from Boots. Collected bottles which I sterilised. I was probably inpsired by Dave who's home brew was truly awful. Mine was fairly good. I made some in Plymouth too. It was in the parents' Laira house after will come back to it later.
Left the bottles after bottling in Mark's little concrete bunker because it stayed cool all the time. Couldn;t give them away though - noone trusts home brew - though Mark indulged, and that meant all the more for me.

all through the year - Friday nights I think when we used to go to the DG - went to meet CP, CM, Howard and Paul, who lived elsewhere. Paul lived more towards Eltham I now know, and I think the others lived on Shooters Hill. We used to go to the ------------- near Woolwich Common. It burned down a few years ago - I took some pictures. Back then it was trying to be a cocktail bar, disco, type place. but it was full of eltham and woolwich wide boy types and their half dressed girlfriends. We would have been the only students in there i'm sure.
We had to walk up Shooters Hill to get back.