Let’s get this straight from the start: I’m not a writer. In fact, certainly as far as recent memory can recall I don’t think I’ve written anything longer than a text message asking my dad to tape ‘X-Factor’ for me. But in my defence, my text messages are at least written in full, correctly spelled English language and not the coded nonsense currently favoured by teenagers of today.


The thing is, it is commonly said that we all have a book inside us that’s bursting to get out. Not sure myself if that is true of absolutely everyone. A lot of people in the past have taken great pleasure in pointing out to me that I’m simply full of shit, which wouldn’t leave much room for a book, or even a small informational pamphlet. As for ninety percent of what does come ‘bursting out’ of me, it would imply that those people are correct.


Nevertheless I have decided to put pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, and offer my experiences of life to one and all. Some may say that, at thirty-nine years old there are still a great many experiences that I haven’t yet… er… experienced. This is very true. After all, I haven’t even reached that age, and I think it’s around sixty or seventy, where one ceases to ‘fall over’ in favour of ‘having a fall’. That same age where you can freely tell female friends and family that they’re putting on weight without worrying that you could possibly be upsetting them, and the age where you insist on paying for everything at the local Co-Op using the exact change regardless if there’s a queue behind you stretching as far back as the Hermasetas and dog food.


I should also point out that this is not, in the true sense of the word, an autobiography. I’ll quite happily leave the autobiographies to those among us who have more interesting tales to relate; those who have managed to scale the icy peaks of Mount Everest with a spaniel selotaped to their earlobe, or who have won a national televised singing competition in the last fifteen minutes and have thus decided that the whole world would like to know about every minute of the complete sixteen-and-three-quarter years of their lives so far.


To be honest, I’m not sure myself of what could be about to fill the pages of this volume. Advice and guidelines for those in their younger years hoping to make it to the dizzying heights of adulthood without becoming a slave to ‘sod’s law’, or simply a collection of anecdotes and pearls of wisdom that I have picked up in what I’m hoping is just the first half of my life.


We’ll just have to wait and see. Obviously if it starts getting a bit shit after a few pages you can always use it to prop up a wobbly table, wedge open a door or just stick it straight in the bin. It’s entirely at your discretion.


CHAPTER ONE


This could be a very short chapter indeed. I’m afraid my memory of anything up until the age of around seven is distinctly fuzzy to say the least. From what members of my family have enjoyed pointing out to anyone who would listen, I can safely say that I was a miserable child. From day one I was moved into a ward all of my own as my constant grizzling and howling was upsetting the other new mums. I would think that if anyone in their later years were displaying a face the same colour as mine was constantly back then, their doctor would immediately prescribe an intense course of beta-blockers in some vain attempt to reduce their rocketing blood pressure.


Still – I got a room to myself, so who’s complaining?


Things were made a lot worse for me by having such a happy elder brother. Always a favourite anecdote of my mum’s at social gatherings was the reaction of passers-by as they used to look in the pram at my brother and I. The story goes, and it’s been rammed down my throat on many happy occasion, that people used to take a look at my cheerful sibling and say such words as ‘Aaaaah – isn’t he cute, isn’t he lovely?’. They would then turn their attention to my ‘dried-fruit’ features and simply offer a sympathetic ‘Aaaaah’.

Introduction

It would be at least three or four years until I would learn to wreak my revenge on smiley, happy-go-lucky Steve. Three or four years until I’d perfected the innocent, butter-wouldn’t-melt stare, mastered the art of the accusing finger and learnt how to say in a clear and proud voice ‘It was him’. This stood me in good stead for a lot of my childhood, and many times served to wipe that smug look from big brother’s chops.

when my mum went in to pay the papers. You can’t trust anyone.


Me. At Christmas probably. NEXT PAGE