On this page, you will find some of the diaries I’ve kept over the years… I will add more over time – I’ve kept a diary in various formats since 2005! Will also try and add some memories from growing up along the way too. Spread the word, and keep coming back for more entries. Let me know what you think! Chris
1981 – 500 Words
Saturday July 19th 2014. 9pm. Cue Ipod! Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’ starts playing. The number one hit record in the week Christopher Charles Benson entered the world – what a great song to be top of the charts when you’re born?! Whenever I meet new people, I’m always a sucker for going online to find out what was number one the week they were born; it’s an icebreaker – try it for yourselves.
Ipod’s stopped again – this time, I flick up to the letter ‘B’ – Bucks Fizz of course! I’ve picked their second single ‘Piece of the Action’ (only got to number 12 in the UK but I think it’s pretty catchy – look it up online, you’ll never hear it on the radio these days!). So, 1981 – the year of Charles and Diana’s Royal Wedding and also more interestingly, the year that my favourite TV programme of all time started – ‘Only Fools and Horses’. Botham won England the Ashes… and Steve Davis won the World Snooker Championships!
With great acknowledgement, my Mum and Dad completed a ‘Baby Book’, with key facts about myself… If you like, this was my first ‘diary’. This was completed from December 1981, until the summer of 1985. This helps a great deal!
Remembering my arrival, Mum said “We had to do the Christmas shopping early that year. I was in hospital from the 21st, and they didn’t let me out until the 31st. When I got to the hospital, they said that I’d come in on the wrong day. But I told them there was no way I was going home!”. My Dad says, “I was there waiting with Mum at the hospital… I was the first to hold and feed you.”
Mum (writing as Me for baby book):
“I was born two days before Christmas on 23rd December 1981. I spent my first Christmas with my Mummy in hospital, with my Daddy visiting us both all the time and Grandma Audrey, Nanna and Grandad Clarke and all my aunties and uncles visiting too.”
Who sent me congratulations?
“All my Mummy and Daddy’s friends and everyone else that has waited for me to arrive! My Mummy and Daddy have kept all my greetings cards to look back on when I am a big boy!”
I was born at 10:09am in Hope Hospital (Ward M3, Room 3 as a useless bit of trivia for you, I don’t think the ward is there anymore). There is one page in the baby book, which mentions some of the presents I received when I was born. My Nanna Audrey bought me a Chirpy Chick, Nanna Beaty and Grandad Paddy bought me a teddy bear, Auntie Julie and Auntie Della bought me a Panda; Uncle Alan, Auntie Mary and the girls bought me a Dusty Bin (from the TV programme ‘3,2,1’ if you’re under the age of 20); the list is endless. Eight days after my birth, Mum and I were discharged from Hope Hospital on New Year’s Eve 1981…
1982 – 500 Words
More notes from my baby book, looks like these were from 1982…
“As a baby I used to go to bed fairly early and I slept all night from six weeks old. But as I got older, I used to play my Mummy and Daddy up by not going to bed until they went! I play with my toys all day and all night! I play with my toy telephone but I much prefer playing with the real thing! I like to listen to the alarm clock ringing and I tend to annoy Sam the dog by taking his dish and throwing it on the floor in the kitchen.”
“At four months, I had my first injections for tetanus, whooping cough, polio and diphtheria. At six months, I had my second injections for the above.“
I also play with Stephanie, Joanna, Darren, Helen and Paul at Nanna Beaty’s. I am growing all the time, I am going to be a big boy – so my Mummy and Daddy say! I love my cup of tea, but only my orange cup – no other cup will do. My Daddy brings me and my Mummy a drink of tea in bed when he is off work.
My first word was Da Da = Dad
I said my first word at… 7 months
I first drank from a cup at… 4 ½ months old
I walked my first steps at… 9 ½ months.
I first crawled round the room by rolling over and over when I was 6 months old!
I went on my first holiday to the Waverley Hotel in Llandudno, Wales for a week with my Mummy and Daddy, My Grandma Benson, my Uncle Andrew and his friend Wayne (31st July to 7th August 1982).
I was christened at St. Stephen’s Church in Astley on Sunday October 31st 1982. My three godparents were Andrew Benson, Frank Clarke, and Della Benson (now Robinson).
Mum (writing as Me in December 1982):
For my first birthday, I received lots of money for my piggy bank. I also got a new pair of shoes and a pair of policeman’s slippers.
I was not very well at this time; I had a slight cold with my teeth and my Daddy was not well at all. He had an infection in his throat. But we both soon got better. My Mummy and Daddy bought me a Baby Walker and clothes so I look very posh and can push my mouse walker along too!
Mum (writing as Me on December 25th 1982):
I got lots and lots of money for my piggy bank… and a toy clown that shakes his bells. My Mummy and Daddy bought me some new clothes and yet another pair of shoes and a baby walker with bricks inside.
My favourite toys:
My play bricks.
My ball and bricks inside.
My baby walker for my birthday and bricks.
My furry elephant.
My ‘Dusty Bin’.
My drum (to make lots and lots of noise).
1983 – 500 Words
I am often told by my parents that I used to watch Countdown on TV when was I was a toddler, and they said I used to make words out of building blocks! I also used to write down ‘End of Part One’ and ‘Part Two’ on sheets of paper. My mum who works with autistic children says “we’re all autistic in one way or another”, obviously some more than others. There are certain characteristics in my adult life which would suggest I’m no different. For example, I perhaps have some ‘Compulsive Behaviour’ patterns, such as arranging objects in a certain way. I arrange my books, DVD’s and CD’s in one way and then a week later or so, I’ll change the order of them again!
My Mum and Dad also tell me that I used to constantly write the same words on paper, over and over again… and I used to be obsessed with a Super Soft Hairspray commercial from the early 1980’s which featured some actor in a dodgy accent saying “Not tonight Josephine!”. My Mum says I got them to record it, so I could play the advert over and over again! (I have seen this advert recently on the internet and it’s bloody awful – can’t believe I was obsessed with it!).
Mum (writing as Me circa 1983):
At 16 ½ months I came out in a rash from head to toe – my Mummy and Daddy thought I had measles but the doctor said I had a rash with my teeth and yet another cold.
My Mummy went back to work part time at Wentworth High School 3pm-6pm. So, my Nanna Beaty and Grandad Paddy looked after me… and my Uncle Frank too! They used to take me to Winton Park – I fed the ducks and watched the pensioners play bowls.
On November 19th 1983, Roland Rat first charted with ‘Rat Rapping’ and I know I definitely remember seeing this record at home. I loved Roland Rat (I even had a Roland Rat wendy house!) – but sadly ‘Rat Rapping’ hasn’t passed the test of time – and listening to it thirty plus years on… it really is an awful record. ‘Rat Rapping’ spent two weeks in the Top 20, peaking at number 14 in the charts! Roland Rat was of course credited with saving the troubled TV-am, and got his own series on BBC1!
Both my Mum and Dad had an expansive music collection. I remember looking through their vinyl records in the loft, my Mum had David Cassidy records, my Dad had albums from The Rolling Stones! (The first record my Dad bought was ‘You Were Made for Me’ by Freddie and the Dreamers). They also had quite a lot of albums on audio cassettes too. Despite having all this music, I don’t ever remember my Mum and Dad saying “Oh, let’s get an LP or an audio cassette out and let’s play it”, I’m sure they must have, but if they did, I can’t remember it.
1984 – 500 Words
Mum (writing as Me) from my Baby Book:
I first started playschool in November 1984 aged 2 years, 11 months. The play school was at Sandy Lane, Astley. I loved it; I didn’t want to come home, I could have stayed all day. The teachers were Mrs Pope and Mrs Clayton. I went with my friend Iain, my other friends were there… Philip, Christopher, John and lots more.
I left play school in June 1985. But we had a great Christmas party in 1984 at play school with Santa there too!
Unfortunately, Sandy Lane playschool is no longer there – it’s been converted into a house! Remembering Sandy Lane, Mum said back in 2011 “Sandy Lane was mornings 9 till 11.30 and you get you never wanted to get your coat on, you were the only one crying that you didn’t want to go home! We used to give Barbara and Iain Burt a lift too… it’s a very large house now.”
I look back at the pictures I have from 1981-1984 with much affection – for 3 years and 10 months, I had my Mum and Dad all to myself! I don’t remember much at all from this time and these photos just make me smile. As for Sandy Lane playschool, I remember I also went to several birthday parties there too!
Useless trivia time – here was what some bits of what was on BBC1 on Christmas Day 1984! You can find more like this on the BBC Genome website, they have a full history on there!
8am – Pages from Ceefax (Ceefax was ace! And there was Oracle on ITV)
8:40am – Play School It’s Christmas Day
11:05am – The Noel Edmonds Live Live Christmas Breakfast Show
12:35pm – Film – Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s
2:00pm – Top of the Pops Christmas Special
3:00pm – The Queen (of course!)
3:10pm – Film Premiere – Mary Poppins
5:30pm – Christmas Blankety Blank with Les Dawson
6:05pm – Hi De Hi
6:35pm – The Paul Daniels Magic Show
7:25pm – Just Good Friends Christmas Special
8:55pm – The Two Ronnies Christmas Special
10:05pm – Wogan (with Elton John)
Seriously, that is a bloody good Christmas Day line up! Nowadays, it’s predictable – it’ll have Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, Eastenders, Call the Midwife – but I think I wouldn’t have moved off the sofa from 5:30pm onwards! That’s what it needs now – entertainment which is worth staying in for! I watched the Two Ronnies ’84 special last Christmas when it was repeated on BBC2, and the Wogan episode incidentally is available permanently on the BBC Iplayer website. And Mary Poppins seems to be repeated every Christmas now! Too young to remember it, but thanks to repeats, enjoyed most stuff since!
I’m lucky to have 37 photos from 1984 – mostly taken whilst we were on holiday in Llandudno that year, there’s also a couple of pictures from what looks like a trip to Conwy Castle. There’s also some pictures of me posing on my Dad’s beloved bike; my Dad loved his bikes, swapping and changing them through the years.
1985 – 500 Words
Monday February 11th 1985 – One of my first memories…:
Now, thanks to geeky internet research I can confirm that my Mum and Dad had a video recording from that day. The tape’s long gone, but the reason I mention it is because I can clearly remember the start of the tape. It was from 1:45pm on BBC1… the tape starts with a flicker from a National Westminster Bank commercial with a man whilstling down the high street (I can’t find this advert anywhere!), then into the recording from 11th February. You hear the BBC1 continuity announcer part way through a sentence saying “…Ken Hom and the perfect way to cook steamed rice. First on 1 it’s something for our younger viewers and it’s a thirsty day for Postman Pat”. Seriously, you find a recording of that and it’ll be almost word perfect, I kid you not.
And so, we reach the final notes from my ‘Baby Book’ from 1985….
Mum (writing as Me) from my Baby Book:
I left play school in June 1985. But we had a great Christmas party in 1984 at play school with Santa there too!
I started Nursery School at Garrett Hall – Teachers were Mrs Taylor and Mrs Staff. I love nursery – plenty of new friends, boys and girls… lots of books to read and toys to play with. I started nursery on 27th August 1985; I go every morning 9:00am till 11:30am.
Mum (writing as Me on September 16th 1985):
Only five weeks after this to wait for my Baby ________! My Mummy has the baby in her tummy till it is ready to be born. I can feel it kicking inside my mummy’s tummy and see it moving all around.
Saturday April 6th 1985:
In recent conversations with my Mum, it’s clear that my Mum and Dad rarely got a babysitter or had nights out, it was only when me and Phil were in our teens that things changed (the first holiday they had on their own was Nerja in 2004). But my Mum said they had a night out for “a meal with friends” when I was little and a “night away in Rhos on Sea” when I was a teenager. My guess maybe the evening out with friends was on April 6th 1985, because I have a memory of being lay down on the sofa at Nanna Beaty’s (63 Westbourne Road, Winton) and watching ‘Blazing Saddles’ – and that night was the first time it was on TV! Unless my memory was from a repeat showing of the film!
Saturday July 20th 1985:
At number 6 in the charts at the end of this week was Denise La Salle’s My Toot-Toot; I loved My Toot-Toot as a kid, listening to it now, it’s not a bad song, it’s a fun record really. But I mention it because as a 3 ½ year old, that’s what I liked…
On October 31st 1985, my brother Philip was born. All change in the Benson household…
1986 – 500 Words
One incident I’m reminded of from my time at Garrett Hall Nursery was when I bust my lip. Mum said “I think it could have been ’86… you were climbing somewhere you shouldn’t have been”. Sounds about right…
Our first video recorder was a Matsui, and it had a remote control on a lead!
My cousin Samantha Williams was born in July 1985. Della Robinson recalls “I can remember you at Samantha’s christening, holding centre stage in their front room, entertaining everyone with stories and just generally anything that would keep people’s attention on you. You wasn’t yet 4, and yet you had the knack even then for keeping people captivated. Everyone was amazed at you, being so young and yet not shy one little bit!”
I have always loved Television from an early age and I have no doubt that my first TV memory comes from June 16th and 18th 1986. It was the Rovers Return fire over two episodes in ‘Coronation Street’. I’ve seen bits of this since and it was pretty scary – I can’t imagine what it was like for me to watch as a four year old! I can clearly remember it – even now! There was another episode I remember from that year too – on December 29th 1986, Martin Platt and Jenny Bradley were involved in a car crash, I can still picture seeing a fire, I must have been traumatised as a five year old! I’ve watched this clip 30 years later and it’s funny how memories play tricks on you – there wasn’t a fire. Jenny Bradley drove the car off the road, it flipped over, and what I must have thought was a fire as a scared 5 year old was in fact the car’s headlights which were still brightly lit, after crashing. The episode ended with viewers wondering if Martin Platt would survive – he did, and years later, I saw actor Sean Wilson perform as a chef at the Bradford Food Festival!
In the summer of 1986, I started in ‘Reception’ class at Garrett Hall County Primary School in
Tyldesley. Mrs Smith was my teacher. I loved reading at primary school, especially the ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ series of books. I had a very high reading age and was a bookworm throughout my primary school days!
Garrett Hall School was just a five minutes’ walk for me, up Tiverton Close, along Withington Drive… then up Tanhouse Avenue to a little footpath at the end of the street which led to the school. The school felt free and open – in later years I’d walk there with John Bennett and Iain Burt who lived on my street. I have one particular vague memory from a very early day at school – I was walking into school… it was raining… but I also can picture myself walking into Bedford High in the rain now, so maybe I’ve just fabricated all of that!
On August 31st 1986, my brother Philip was christened at St. Stephen’s Church in Astley.
1987 – 500 Words
Monday April 13th 1987:
On this day, Fleetwood Mac released their album ‘Tango in the Night’. For me, it’s better than Rumours – I’ve perhaps offended a lot of people by saying that, but it’s such a strong album. This was one of the first CD’s my Mum and Dad bought, and it was played regularly in the Benson household, and I still play this album so often!
On May 9th 1987, Starship tops the UK singles chart with ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ from the movie Mannequin. What I have found whilst going through my audio cassettes was a very strange recording. It’s from the moment on the Radio 1 chart show where Bruno Brookes announces the number one, you can hear the Starship song begin… but what is bizarre on the recording I have is I think you can hear my Mum and Dad on it. Can’t make out any dialogue clearly enough, but I can just tell it’s them!
Sunday July 19th 1987:
My Mum has confirmed that this is the day that she started work at Makro, near Irlam. At first she only worked four hours a week, between the hours of 2pm and 6pm, earning £2.80 an hour, and my Mum said “about £60 a month”.
After the summer of 1987 I started in Middle Infants at Garrett Hall, with Mrs. Lyon as my teacher. One day, we were told to paint our faces. The teacher meant on paper, but I started putting paint to my face! I was never one for common sense… and this incident has remained with me till adulthood!
In this year, the ‘Video Challenger’ came out – so it was probably 1987 or 1988 that I got one off Father Christmas. When you bought it, you got a gun, and a VHS tape – the idea was you pressed play on the VHS tape, and then when different images appeared during the video, you shot at them! ‘Space Challenge’ was one of the games I remember playing.
Whilst on the subject of Christmas presents, I’m not sure what year I got it, but remember getting our ‘Scalextric’ set – and Dad set it up for me and Phil to play in the loft. I think everyone’s Scalextric set was the same, you could never do a full lap without one of the cars coming off, and you’d get a strong burning smell after a while which always told you it was time to come downstairs! Another activity I did in the loft was when I pretended to host a radio show! Dad set up a CB Radio for me at the top of the loft, I couldn’t communicate to the outside world, I had literally a microphone and a speaker, and I was broadcasting to myself. Those hours of radio/broadcast practice haven’t done me any harm at all, leading to hospital/community radio and also a few compere opportunities through the years too… And it all started in my Mum and Dad’s loft…
1990 – Children’s Ward
1990… the year that I first attempted to get onto TV. I wrote to Granada Television, asking if I could appear on the hit show ‘Children’s Ward’; I loved it and to my surprise Granada wrote back to me on February 6th 1990. Gareth Morgan, Entertainment Producer said they’d keep my details on file. As an adult, I’ve grown to take that as rejection but I didn’t as a child. (If you don’t remember Children’s Ward, take a look at the clip below – it was a really strong production, didn’t hold back with storylines – they don’t make kids TV like they used to…)
And then, in a letter dated April 5th from Granada, this happened:
Well, bugger me! I got to visit Granada Television – this was like Hollywood to me; it was where the TV I watched was broadcast from. I’d been to Granada Studios Tour, but this was going into the main building! The workshop (or audition as I’d interpret it now) was interesting; turns out all of the other children in attendance had an agent. I was with my Mum who got mistaken for being my agent, bless her. Despite my efforts, I didn’t get to appear on Children’s Ward; but still – a good experience just for sending a letter at the beginning of the year.
1991 – The 8:15 From Manchester
On July 13th 1991 I was in the studio audience for ‘The 8:15 from Manchester’ with school friend Thomas Parkinson. Guests were OMD and Bill Beaumont and Trevor and Simon (remember them from ‘Going Live’?!) The presenter was Ross King. I remember OMD performing ‘Pandora’s Box’ and I loved it; in fact it’s still one of those songs that can make my hair (what’s left of it) stand on end. A brilliant song, which means more than what it did when I first heard it as a nine year old too… yet I never went out to buy the record at the time!
I can’t find the 8:15 From Manchester performance but I have found the official video of Pandora’s Box on You Tube – enjoy.
‘Mr Plop – The Silly Billy’ (Jan 23rd 2007)
Back in 2007, I wrote a short children’s story titled ‘Mr. Plop’. The results are shown below…
Mr Plop – The Silly Billy
By Chris Benson.
Mr Plop was very smelly. Imagine a pair of socks that you’d worn for a week. Smellier than that. Imagine a big smelly poo which was stuck inside the toilet. Smellier than that. But despite being smelly, Mr Plop was very happy. He lived with Mrs Plop in a small cottage in the country.
Mr Plop loved chocolate – he could eat chocolate from the first thing in the morning, to the last thing at night. But one day, when Mr Plop arrived in the local shop to buy his chocolate for the day, he was in for a nasty shock. There was no chocolate to be seen – not one single bar. What would Mr Plop do? Mr Plop was normally a very quiet man who never shouted, but today was different…
As loud as a steam train, he shouted at the shopkeeper, “WHERE’S MY CHOCOLATE? I NEED MY CHOCOLATE!” The poor shopkeeper didn’t know what to do.
“I’m very sorry” said the shopkeeper, but we won’t be getting any chocolate for a week.
Now one day without chocolate was bad enough for Mr Plop… but one week? How would Mr Plop cope?! Mr Plop left the shop, and immediately went to the smelly bins outside the grocers. He emptied all of the litter across the floor, looking for any chocolate, which may have been forgotten about. But, there was no chocolate to be seen inside the smelly bin.
Mr Plop had an idea. If he couldn’t have chocolate, he would have to find something which was the same colour as chocolate, tasted just as nice, and something he could eat today! Whilst walking through the park, he had a brilliant idea. “I could eat my poo!” shouted Mr Plop, “I could make a cake with my poo, or a pie with my poo!”
Mr Plop went home to tell Mrs Plop about his great idea. But Mrs Plop said “Don’t be a silly billy! You can’t eat your own poo, that would be very naughty!” Mr Plop left the house again to try and think of another idea.
Over by the park, there was a big pile of mud. Mr Plop thought “I could eat the mud! Mud would taste lovely!” But just as Mr Plop was walking towards the Mud, PC Willie from the nearby police station shouted “STOP!”
“What do you think you are doing?” he said to Mr Plop.
“I’m going to take this mud, and spread it all over Mrs Plop’s homemade biscuits!” said Mr Plop.
“Don’t be a silly billy!” said PC Willie. “You can’t eat mud, that would be very silly!” Mr Plop wasn’t very happy by now. As he walked home, he saw a young girl from the village stood near a tree. It was Rosie Castle, who delivers Mr Plop’s newspapers.
“Hello Rosie!” said Mr Plop.
“Hello Mr Plop!” said Rosie. Rosie didn’t like standing too near to Mr Plop – normally she would deliver a newspaper through Mr Plop’s letterbox, and run as fast as she could to avoid the smell from the house.
Rosie was holding a basket.
“What have you got there?” asked Mr Plop.
“Apples”, said Rosie.
Mr Plop looked inside the basket, and saw ten apples that Rosie had collected from the tree.
“Would you like to try one?” asked Rosie.
“I like chocolate” said Mr Plop.
“Try an apple!” said Rosie, and placed an apple in Mr Plop’s hand.
Mr Plop took a bite of the apple, and he loved it. He loved the apples so much, that he started climbing the tree to collect all of the remaining apples.
Mr Plop took the apples home, and Mrs Plop baked him a lovely pie. “Yum, yum!” said Mr Plop.
And Mr. Plop never ate chocolate ever again. He never tried eating poo, and he never tried eating mud. Apples were all Mr Plop wanted to eat, and he lived happily ever after.
I still love reading that story! I should write a sequel to Mr. Plop! Probably controversial writing a kids’ story all about poo, but kids love poo!