AGED 0 (April 17, 1973): Shoot out of my mum's womb (at Leicester Royal Infirmary, England) a day ahead of future Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie (he shot out of his ma's womb at a hospital in Ethiopia, just to clarify). This would be the only time I finished ahead of Geb.
AGED 1: Reveal a penchant for playing the saucepans. Future career as a rock band drummer perhaps?
AGED 2: Break my nose slamming into the corner of a brick wall during a kamikaze ride on my toy milk float. As a result I have a split-profile view; one side Atkinson (the hook), one side Fox (ski-slope).
AGED 3: Realizing the life of a milkman likely isn't for me, I teach myself to read ~ becoming engrossed in newspapers ~ and recite random passages to anyone who'll listen. Less 'noise pollutive' than the saucepan-playing, Ma and Pa suck it up as my audience.
AGED 4: Impatiently give my two-year-old sister a helping hand to take the plunge on a friend's slide ~ and she slips off the side (of said slide) breaking her arm. Oops. Sorry Sis! Happily the arm did make a full recovery and go on to have a successful career in limb-related endeavours. But I learnt a valuable lesson. Don't push people off slides. Unless they REALLY deserve it.
AGED 5: Bawl my eyes out after being dropped off (and apparently abandoned) on my first day of school. My view of the British education system did improve over time.
AGED 6: Drown my sorrows in a carton of milk (as in the udder kind ~ sorry...) thanks to the then daily tradition of kicking off school break-time by downing a quart of Mother Nature's finest bovine-rearing juice. Clearly I was a lactose intolerant waiting to happen.
AGED 7: Proudly guess the word "photograph" during a First Year Juniors game of hangman. My prize was being crowned "teacher's pet" for a fortnight. Our family later moved 30 minutes up the road to Loughborough ~ which counts Seb Coe and Paula Radcliffe amongst its famous university alumni. I become everyone's favourite 'new kid' at Holywell Primary when I bring a brand new football (/soccerball).
AGED 8: I join the local Thorpe Acre Cubs pack. All went well the first few weeks. Until one day the Akela accidentally set the hut on fire. The following week he managed to nail a piece of iron into his hand. With a midnight tour of the local woods next on the menu, I quit. So convinced our hapless leader would make it three-for-three.
AGED 9: Back at school, my 79er is smashed to smithereens during the quarter-finals of the school conker* championships. I'm distraught, but quickly pull myself together and focus on finding a new conker.
*Conkers were hardened horse chestnuts which ancient Brits used to create a popular school sport; all the rage in the days before Quidditch.
AGED 10: Win a prized place in the school's First 11 football team following a dazzling display in a weekend 7-a-side tournament. However, my dream is shattered when I have to relinquish my spot because of a conflicting trip to the dentist.
AGED 11: Richard Knight & I are runners-up in the annual Holywell ping-pong (doubles) tournament. We tied local club members (and hot favourites) Nathan Booth and Daniel Gray at one-game-all in front of an engrossed school in the main hall (similar to the Great Hall at Harry Potter's Hogwarts, only less plush), only to lose the decider. Receiving our silver medals in assembly was still a proud moment.
AGED 11 (still): Start high school ~ at De Lisle RC Comprehensive ~ and score twice in the First Year football (/soccer) team trials. I earn the 'golden' No. 9 shirt for the season opener and flex the back of the net five minutes in to give us a 1-0 lead. We build a 5-2 first-half advantage ~ then mysteriously fail to show up for the second half. I mean, we were technically there (as in, ON the field) but may as well have taken an early shower... as we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (and lose 6-5). I start Game 2 as No. 9, but miss a sitter with my head (I was only 4 ft 3 in my defence... or attack, depending which way you look at it). As a result, I'm hauled off at half-time and only make the bench for Game 3. I come on at half-time in Game 3 at right-back (in our defence... now charged with quelling their attack). I then play the rest of the season at right-back. So less a case of right back where I ‘started’ and more one of right-back where I ‘finished’. Right? I'll get my coat.
AGED 12: Score 98% in the First Year maths exam. Only Emma Griffin (daughter of our maths teacher, Mr. Griffin) matches me. I'm proud, but also secretly lambasting myself for spurning 2%. I realize I could have an issue with perfectionism.
To be continued...