This is England 1988 – Guest Post by Sharon Howard

I am so excited to introduce Sharon Howard today on The Great 80’s!  I have always wanted to know what the 80’s were like in other countries.  More importantly, in England! Now that I have met Sharon through blogging and the ROW 80 site, I am thrilled to introduce her as my first official guest blogger here on The Great 80’s.  Take it away, Sharon!

This is England 1988

Yeah, okay I pinched the title for this post from the recent UK television series of the same name This is England ‘88. I watched an episode but it didn’t really capture me the way I was expecting  hoping – why probably because it was about young adults, but in 1988 I was still only a little girl.

In 1988 I was 11, turning 12 in the November.

1988 was a big year for me, and everyone else I was at school with. It was the year we moved up to ‘big school’. We were the oldest kids in our Junior (Primary) School, but that September after the six weeks holiday we would be the youngest kids in the Secondary (or Senior)School we moved to.

We were going our separate ways, new schools, new classes, new friends, only a few of us would be going on to start out new journeys at the same schools as our junior classmates.

Choosing your senior school was a big issue that started from the moment you went into Class 4 of Primary School.

In 1988 I was in Mr Fisher’s class at Princethorpe Junior School, Class 4F (obviously!).

Mr Fisher was the coolest teacher in school. He had the biggest classroom and a row of shelves with jars of preserved animal parts by the door.

In 1988 we got our first computer in school, and Mr Fisher’s class, my class, got to have it in our classroom – boy, were we excited!

A few of our class were busy studying for the 11+ exam. Our Head Teacher Mr Edwards told me I should take the exam, but my parents weren’t bothered and didn’t provide me with any means to do so. And besides – I wanted to go where my friends were going!

Senior schools held ‘Open Evenings’ for us to visit and help us decide which schools we wanted to put on our list of choices for the options form. You could choose 3 schools, everyone hoped to get their first choice, but it wasn’t guaranteed so you needed a 2nd and 3rd choice, just in case. My parents didn’t take me to any ‘Open Evenings’ but I did manage to tag along with my best friend Sarah to visit the school our group of friends was all hoping to go to together Hillcrest.

In the end I insisted to my mom that she must put Hillcrest in all three spots on my form as I was only going to go where my friends were going. I have no idea if she did this or not, but I believed she had.

Then we just had to wait to find out if we got our first choice or not…

While we waited for the news we made the most of our last year at Princethorpe.

We had Subbuteo tournaments in class, refereed by Mr Fisher.

We learnt to type on the new computer.

I bought my first music single on vinyl – Tiffany’s ‘I think we’re alone now’.  Bros are popular but I don’t fall for them, it’s not until a year later when New Kids On The Block hit the UK that I get sucked into being a screaming fan of a boy band!

I fell in love with Vampires for the first time, and Corey Haim when I watched ‘The Lost Boys’ – it was rated 15 so I was lucky to get to see it! Hehe.

The cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hit our screens…

Crossroads ended – the TV soap opera based in a motel near Birmingham (our local TV show! Yay! but boo that it ended – well maybe not, it wasn’t a very good show!)

We all start to watch ‘Neighbours’ on TV as it is now on when we get home from school – here we fall in love with Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan. Other TV shows kids watch are Top of the Pops, Grange Hill, Newsround and Blue Peter.

Kylie Minogue sang ‘I Should be so Lucky’ and we all wanted to be like her because she gets to kiss Jason Donovan. Yes, we aren’t even teenagers yet and we are already thinking about kissing boys!!

But mainly we are still children, my play out in the street on our bicycles until we are called in for ‘tea’ (evening meal). The lucky ones have a Nintendo Games System and Cabbage Patch Dolls, the rest of us have to wait for these a while longer, money is tight our families are not well off and several of us are living through our parents getting divorced.

Finally the big day arrives, our letters informing us which school we will be going to drop through our front doors…

The good news, me and all my friends are going to Hillcrest – Yay!

The bad news, we have to go to the school for an ‘induction’ day where we will find out which classes we are going to be in that September – on that day I discover I’m not going to be in the same class as my best friends. 😦

Hillcrest is an all girls school, so we say goodbye once and for all to the boys in our class – we won’t miss them, they are just silly boys who play football anyway (we say to ourselves unconvincingly).

Summer Holidays come and go without an actual holiday (vacation) a few day trips to places like Weston -Super-Mare (Spain for Brummies) and Drayton Manor Park on long hot smelly coach journeys that make me travel sick.

Summer days at ‘The Square Club’ summer playscheme doing arts and crafts and making up dance routines to Yazz ‘The Only Way is Up’ and listening to the older girls talking about kissing boys.

I was a girl guide…

(me with my dog Lucky)

Then all too soon (funny how six weeks flies when you are a kid!) we don our uniforms for the first time and head off to the ‘Big School’ – a bus journey from home that costs 6 pence, rather than the walk round the corner to Princethorpe.

I hate it, very quickly, hate, hate, hate it. I’m not with my friends, I’m the smallest girl in my class, and I’m struggling to make new friends and being bullied. The only thing I like is the lessons – we get to do Languages (German for me) and Geography now.

I get moved into my best friend Sarah’s class, but she has already started making new friends, as has our other friend Claire who is in this class. So I’m no better off here. Not long later I move class again – 3 classes in my first year, not good!

But now at least I make some friends, a girl from my old school who was in the other class (there were 2 classes in primary school, but now there are 6 classes in each year group)takes me under her wing, Lindsay – and we are still friends now, in fact she is my best friend!

(Me and Lindsay in 2011)

That was my 1988, what I remember of it.

What was 1988 like for you?

Was it an important transitional year, or was it just like any other year?

Sharon Howard

A 30-something, mom of two teenagers, blogger, writer, artist, part-time carer, part-time student, BPD sufferer… jack of all  trades… Always ready for a new challenge.

Day in the life of a Busy Gal –


3 responses to “This is England 1988 – Guest Post by Sharon Howard

  1. wow what an exciting journey.

    it has been a bit different over here – making step from elemetary to big school. me did it after 4th grade too, but berlin (where i live now) wants kids for 6 years in primary school.

    1988 i was studying politics in berlin at the free university and i remember that big student strike we had – rooms too small, to many people attending classes

    and finally what is an 11+ exam?

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