1982 was quite a turbulent year for me, moving from Fairburn to a new school in Castleford (which I only spent half a term at), then to another new school in Pontefract (Love Lane Juniors) where I spent one term in the 3rd year (sadly I haven't kept any books from that class so I may have lost a couple of gems, but I imagine I was being pretty cautious and quiet for a while, so I may not have missed a thing). At the end of 1982 I ended up in the 4th year of Love Lane Juniors, in the class of a very scary man called Mr Atkinson, who was always very nice to me (principally because I was a good student and behaved myself) but generally pretty intolerant with anyone who misbehaved or spoke while he was speaking - they'd usually get a swift piece of chalk or blackboard rubber thrown at their head. Looking back, I'm amazed he was allowed to get away with it, but it did seem to do the trick - lessons went pretty smoothly because everyone was terrified of him.


Naturally this was OK in one way - I liked learning, doing well and getting good marks - but it played havoc with my streak of non-conformity, and I was told pretty early on that I wouldn't be enjoying anything like the same freedoms I enjoyed at Fairburn. I would only write in my English book when I was asked to, and I would write what I was asked to write, and nothing else.


Fortunately, I managed to use every opportunity I could get to turn an English lesson into a chance to write either a horror story or a ridiculous stream of consciousness. I have only one English book from that year so there aren't too many funny stories but they definitely showed a progression from earlier in the year. I still had a tendency to use bad jokes but it was lessening, in favour of a stronger sense of character and family interaction.


This particular family - focusing on a boy called Richard who wasn't particularly nice - was something I just wrote about in my English books, both at this school and in my first year at high school. I'm still trying way too hard to be funny, but at least the teacher's encouraging - "Ingenious and very entertaining!" is his remark at the end of this bizarre, violent and messy tale. I do have to admit, however, I am getting slightly better at being funny. But there's still a long way to go.


Three more things to say:


1. I was one of those lucky few who saw The Young Ones right from the very start, on its original transmission in November 1982, and fell hopelessly in love with it - you can clearly see its influence in the punk cat and the way Richard casually kicks his Grandad into the fire. But if you think I didn't write violent, surreal stuff before, you clearly haven't read this.


2. I clearly didn't know the difference between punk and heavy metal, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't until I started listening to the Sex Pistols in 1984.


3. My Dad's real name is Gary - I wonder why I used that here when all the other names are made up?

Backwards Castle (Jan 27th, 1983)
Back Up Top
The Bikeling Club (Feb 1st, 1982)
"Christmas Already?" - Page 2
"Christmas Already?" - Page 1
"Christmas Already?" - Page 3
Stand and Deliver!
Your mummy or your wife!
Jan 25, 1982
Backwards Castle
A backward step?
Jan 27, 1983
How to Be Nutty
My comedy manifesto
June 11, 1981
WS is Ace
A tape of me boasting, badly
May 1983
The Bikeling Club
It was very realistic
Feb 1, 1982
Yep - that's how ace I looked in 1983
Another from Love Lane, featuring the hilarious vampire "Count Backwards" (yawn)
Gary Le Strange relaxing in the Comedy Store
The glorious personal vision I had on the road to my own Damascus - the Damascus of comedy!
Stand on your liver! Your mummy or your wife!
I think the Bikeling Club is secretly on mushrooms