The holiday that I left on following my resignation was my first skiing holiday. It had been won in a competition to promote the area and wines of the South Tyrol, skiing did not appeal to the person that won the prize so we “brought it” off them. Why anyone would expend time and energy entering a competition when they had no interest in the prize was a little bit beyond my comprehension, still is. Because the holiday was a prize it was very different to the holidays I’d had previously, this was no budget cramped do it yourself style of thing. This was in the fantastic ski resort of Val Gardena, we were in a four-star hotel with fabulous food and local wine all included. I was learning loads of new things, the sun shone, and it snowed, but we were equipped for it and we stayed out in all weathers. I loved every minute of it.
Sometime in 1988 I was given a book to read, I still struggled with reading somewhat and apart from textbooks I hadn’t read anything longer than an article in the newspaper or a comic (mostly Viz) since I’d left school over a decade earlier. Obviously there will have been few books on my CSE English syllabus, but I’m pretty sure the ones I read were all “thrillers”, the only one I remember now is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Due to this and my naïveté, I had previously thought that books were just stories, oh how wrong I was! I read Gorge Orwell’s Animal Farm in pretty much one train journey and I was hooked, this was a book about ideas.
I got married again, you would have thought I had been put off by how the first one ended and looking back the only thing I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Just before the wedding I went away for the weekend with a couple of mates, I suppose you could call it a stag weekend, but all we did was meetup with a few people we knew of both sexes and had a chilled if alcohol fuelled weekend. We were in Brighton and staying with some friends in a big rundown house on Sussex Square and late one night we went out into the gardens to see the secret tunnel that leads to the beach. Apparently, it had been Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for the opening scene of Alice in Wonderland, and now I was a literary buff I could see what he was getting at.
Gig of the year is the Pogues at the Town & Country Club in Kentish Town on St Patrick’s night, Joe Strummer, Kirsty MacColl and other guests on stage it was a special party night. This year’s track is Birthday – The Sugarcubes it had been released as a single to much critical acclaim the year before. I waited for the album before parting with my cash.
What else happened in 1988?
In the UK the year is marked by a number of attacks and reprisals between the British army and the IRA, which led to broadcast interviews by the IRA being banned. Following on from the disasters of 87 there are further fatal incidents – oil rig Piper Alpha explodes, Pan Am jumbo jet explodes and crashes into Lockerbie and there is a rail crash at Clapham Junction. GCSEs replace CSEs and O levels and nurses are on strike about pay and conditions. New licensing laws mean that pubs no longer have to shut the afternoons.
Ian Paisley heckles the Pope calling him the Antichrist. Edwina Currie is in trouble again, this time for saying that nearly all eggs are contaminated with salmonella. Paddy Ashdown becomes leader of the newly formed Social and Liberal Democratic party.
The WHO began its mission to eradicate polio, and the 1st world AIDS Day takes place. The Internet is taking shape with a permanent link between the USA and Europe, protocols being invented and the concept of the World Wide Web being discussed. I don’t expect many people noticed when Osma bin Laden formed Al Qaeda. The Burma uprising against military rule and the singing Revolution in Estonia take place. Oliver North and others are in the spotlight over arms sales and the Iran-Contra affair.
George Bush (senior) is elected to follow Ronald Reagan into the White House, Mitterrand was elected in France and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, in the UK, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss becomes the 1st woman appointed to be a Court of Appeal judge.
Home and Away premiers in Australia and the Phantom of the Opera opens on Broadway. Roald Dahl’s Matilda is published, Comic Relief is launched and we get our 1st red nose Day. There is a concert at Wembley Stadium to mark (the still imprisoned) Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday
In sport, the UK compete, but do not win any medals at the Winter Olympics, doing slightly better getting 5 gold medals at the summer games in Seoul. Golfer Sandy Lyle becomes the 1st British winner of the US Masters.