I lived in a real house. I got to eat boil-in-the-bag mince most nights. And I was only occasionally bitten by my mother's horrible little dog.
Though my family wasn't wealthy - at points they were sufficiently hard-up that I had to share a bedroom with my parents, so that my room could be given over to a procession of hairy lodgers - I had all the toys a boy could want.
Well... except for Big Trak (an excellent, remote-controlled tank thing), and the Six Million Dollar Man bionic transport and repair station.
Other than that, I mostly had all the toys a boy could want. More or less. Though... a lot of them were second-hand. And I never got the Action Force plane that I'd asked for. But, yeah, I had, at least, some of the toys a boy could want. A few of them anyway. One or two.
As I've established previously in this series, I was an out and proud Spectrum owner. Some of my friends had the Commodore 64, one of them had an Oric Atmos. And a few - though I struggle to really consider these bourgeois dandies as friends - owned the BBC Model B.
Built by Acorn Computers, as part of the 1981 BBC Computer Literacy Project - following a call for a computer system that could accompany a series of TV shows that promoted atheism (computer literacy) - the BBC Microcomputer was intended initially for educational purposes.
Indeed, I doubt I'm alone in recalling a bank of BBC Micros in my school's computer room. The BBC Micro - the Model B was the one that really took hold - was an expensive piece of kit, costing nearly £400 even back then.
Consequently, the only people to own a BBC Model B other than schools, were the posh kids. Even by the most liberal interpretation of the word, I was not a posh kid.
I knew there was pretty much no chance of me ever owning a BBC Micro, and such feeling was sufficiently widespread that it created a sort of caste system at school. Those who owned one knew they had the better, more expensive home computer, and they knew that we were the unwashed.
I think this is where my enduring animosity towards Elite - the BBC Micro's flagship game - stems from. I had one mate who owned an Acorn Electron (a budget version of the BBC Micro, aimed at competing with the Spectrum - it was never as popular), and all he did was sit and play Elite whenever I'd go round and see him. He'd never even give me a sniff of it. He might as well have kept me behind a velvet rope.
Over time, though, it was pretty apparent that the BBC's £399 retail price proved a barrier to it being owned by more kids - so it was the Spectrum and C64 owners who, lets face it, got all the best games.
And yet... as the posh boys bragged of Citadel and Castle Quest and Elite, that envy failed to evaporate. Those crisp, BBC visuals, displayed on a proper monitor, the games played on a real keyboard... Alas, only the students who were good at maths got to have a bona-fide computer studies lesson, so they were off-limits to the number-myopic likes of myself, even during school hours.
Fortunately, a few of us began the habit of hanging out in the computer studies room at lunchtimes, as it seemed like a good place not to get bullied, and the teacher surrounded himself with his preferred students in a way that would be considered unseemly today.
I don't think I was one of his favourites (I was once ejected from the room for shouting "Oyez oyez!" when he began a complaint about the level of noise with the words "Now hear this"), but I could hitch a ride to Computer Heaven on the coattails of the better maths students, the teacher's pets, the swanks.
And so, like a Steerage Class passenger getting to bum a fag off a pretty girl up on the First Class deck, I got to play on a BBC Model B.
Two of the games I remember most fondly from those lunchtime sessions, were Yosser - a single-screen demo thing, which featured Yosser Hughes, from gritty BBC drama The Boys From the Black Stuff, asking "Giz a job" (before headbutting a succession of would-be employers) - and a reworked version of the vibrant caveman platformer Frak! (named for the made-up expletive the character would utter when falling to his death).
The latter stood out in particular, as the version they had at school was renamed, imaginatively, "Fuck!', and recast the main character as an unapologetic, erection-sporting "rapist", who travelled the screens collecting boxes of "Durex". It was the sort of thing that would create a well-earned media storm today - not least because 13 year-old kids were playing it in schools - but also demonstrates how games remained under the radar at that point.
By this point, you might be able to imagine my delight when my mother went to work as a teaching assistant at a school for kids with behavioural issues, and got to bring their BBC Micro home some weekends.
I wasn't quite entering the realms of the glitterati, but I was getting to touch the hem of their silken trousers.
Admittedly, I only ever had access to a handful of BBC Micro games outside of school - though I think I may have borrowed Citadel off somebody at one point, as the digitised speech of its title screen has never quite left me. My mother's school had bought Arcadians - a decent Galaxians rip-off - and Revs - a Formula 1 racer - but I found as much entertainment in the Welcome Disc that came with the machine.
Putting the proper floppy disc in the drive, it felt a whole technological rung away from my Spectrum and its tape deck. That alone kept me engaged; I was playing with the future - who needed any games?
The Welcome Disc mostly featured a bunch of dry demos. There was an Etch-A-Sketch simulator, a calculator, a utility for sorting words into alphabetical order, a basic reinterpretation of Breakout, a baffling strategy game called Kingdoms that I never got my head around, and the one that I was most intrigued by: Biorhythms. I was fascinated by what I now realise was a bunch of new age guff - getting the program to generate my peak physical, emotional and intellectual energy levels.
When utilising the BBC monitor as the view screen of a spaceship - as I did frequently - the biorhythm graph made for a good scientific-style readout.
Though it may never have reached the level of affection that remains for the Spectrum and C64, the BBC Micro is every bit a part of the fabric of the 1980s. So many BBC shows used it - for music, for title graphics and special effects. Anyone who had used a BBC Micro instantly recognised the origin of the jagged laser blasts in certain episodes of Doctor Who.
I never had the affection for the system that I did for my Spectrum - it always felt like it belonged to somebody else (indeed, the one I got to play literally did belong to somebody else), whereas I felt a sense of ownership with the Spectrum. The BBC Micro seemed like a machine - appropriately enough, given its most recognisable game - for the elite.
THE COMPLETE GAMES OF MY YEARS