To any small children reading this and intending on utilizing my methods on family and friends I would like to say, firstly, well done – your reading skills are way above that of the average three-year-old, and secondly, do beware of the pitfalls of such actions. There is a grey area, usually around the age of five, where the results change drastically from a loving, sympathetic peck on the cheek from mummy coupled with your victim being confined to their bedroom, to a fist in the kisser from said victim accompanied by a “serves you right you tale telling little bleeder” from a mother who can finally see beyond the ‘cute’ to the aggravating little shit you really are.

On the plus side, however, it is around this age that alternative methods of causing upset and annoyance to elder brothers and sisters come into play. By far the most popular of these is the let’s call it a draw method of ending a board game you have no hope of winning by grabbing the board and tossing it into the air, scattering the pieces across the room and leaving no evidence whatsoever that you were, in fact, on the brink of losing. Though mainly used during childhood, this approach could well cause amusement if used in certain situations later in life. It would be a safe bet that cheers of delight would arise from your colleagues on the high school debating team if you were to put an end to any arguments your opponents may have by taking their notes, scattering them vehemently in all directions and proudly strutting out of the classroom to thunderous applause.

respect I possibly didn’t deserve. Without wishing to sound big-headed I was deemed to be a very bright child and along with another boy in the same class we were always streaks ahead of the rest.  Being clever, however, can be a blessing or a curse and usually, at this age, it can often lead to having the shit kicked out of you after school by the class meat-head goaded on by a circle of hyperactive warmongering children baying for blood. I was fortunate enough to have the gift of being able to talk my way out of such encounters, and besides, there were far more interesting victims to be found in our year group. I have unexpectedly bumped into one of the bullies’ prime targets only recently. He still seems to be one of life’s victims, only now he is the victim of the afore-mentioned elderly frequenters of the Co-Op, where he now works, as they join the endless queue for lottery tickets baying for the blood of any impertinent young shop assistant who dares roll their eyes as they rifle through their purse for the nearest ha’penny.

Chesterfield Junior School 1977. I’m top left.

Of course, all this bravado may lead you to believe that I was a confident ‘nothing can phase me’ kind of a child, but unfortunately that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I remember only too clearly that, at around the age of six or seven, I was so afraid of a certain infant school teacher that I wouldn’t even dare to raise my hand and ask to be excused for a simple visit to the lavatory. As a result I succeeded in putting a turd in my underpants of such spectacular proportions that, had it been a joint of beef it could have quite easily fed a hungry family of four with enough left over to serve up cold with mash and pickles the following day.

Luckily, and certainly in my infant and junior years, this teacher turned out to be a one-off; possibly a clash of personalities. My other teachers of this era realised my (so far wasted) potential and treated me with the

Obviously, school bullies were not the only danger I was faced with during those early years. There was always the wrath of my mum to face anytime I would wittingly or otherwise stray from the straight and narrow. One example of which was the journey to school. The route I was to take to Chesterfield Infants and Juniors was clearly defined. I was to walk straight along the high road to the traffic lights, cross the road at the crossing and walk straight down Ordnance Road to Chesterfield Road – my destination. The problem was that it was a  lot quicker to cross the main road straight away and cut through Alandale Road and Manderville Road, and this was more often than not my route of choice. Somehow or another my mum knew every single time I’d gone the speedier route and I would hear about it in no

Me with Mum and Steve. Check out those shirts.

uncertain terms when I got home. I never quite figured out how I could possibly be busted each and every time until the answer was revealed to me only a few years ago. There was a spy in the sweet shop! What I considered to be an innocent, sweet old purple-haired lady was in fact a double agent on my mother’s payroll. While she was dishing out the Black-Jacks, Fruit Salad and Bazooka Joes at two each for a penny, she was also keeping one beady eye on my comings and goings and reporting back in detail when my mum went in to pay the papers. You can’t trust anyone.

Playtime was always fraught with danger. A craze for “riots” swept the school and, young or old, nobody was safe. A riot would consist of thirty to forty young terrorists assembling at one end of the playground, linking hands in a long line so that they reached from one side to the other. Then, amid chants of “Riot!” and screams from innocent bystanders they would race from the school gates end right across to the dinner hall