I’m back at my mum and dad’s house in Manchester for a few days – doing a couple of gigs and looking after my sister – while they’re away on holiday for their 25th Wedding Anniversary.
It’s always fun to look through the desk in my room, where all my notebooks from childhood are kept, along with blunt pencils, old calendars and CD cases. Fishing through, I found these things that I’d forgotten writing, and don’t really remember, being, as they are, 10-12 years old.
A concerned student writes.
What conclusions can we draw from this thrilling historical document?
- My school sucked at teaching the ‘I before E except after C’ rule – it’s clearly not my fault, for one, I spelt ‘recommend’ correctly, and, I understood the importance of signing off with your age included, so they know that you meant business, and weren’t just some snotty-nosed 8 year old.
- Whoever was in charge of catering was called ………………..
- I understood how important the ‘agreeing/thinking’ distinction was.
- The lines ‘we have been watching the infants’ and ‘I seriously recommend you rethink…’ suggest that I took a ransom-note like approach to letter writing.
- I was a hungry/greedy child. I’m pretty sure that no one else had a problem with portion size.
The second one was this:
The Official rules of Patball™, as laid out by the Official Patball Association of Greater Manchester (OPAGM).
I do not, in any way, remember playing this game. I’m sure we tossed a ball around a classroom, but we never made gloves or measured out courts, or even got the requisite number of people for a full game. And three 20 minute periods? That’s a long time. I must have had a lot of energy. The fact that we had a full (ignoring many glaring omissions) set of rules before this game was ever played (which I maintain it wasn’t), and that those rules were clearly written in my own time at home (otherwise they wouldn’t be in that notebook), shows what an officious little thing I was. Until I just pulled the page from the book today, it had never been removed, so Tom and David (my fellow Patball™ creators) would never have seen such rules, and I assume that they just forgot about the game the day after, just as I forgot about drawing up the statute.
The fun we had, coming up with these things (I’m speculating, I generally struggle to remember anything more than a few years back – which makes finding things like this quite an interesting thing for me) – how we’d throw time away in idle pursuits, entertaining ourselves in a world where this game, and many other things were viable; where a 20 pence plastic ring from the vending machines at Sale Leisure Centre was an essential item, as without it, Elka Lamb would not have accepted my proposal of playground marriage, whereupon I gave her the ring, kissed her, then pushed her over and took the ring back.
David died around June last year, he had (I think) a heart attack while cycling, and I found out at about 6am from a Facebook message or similar sent by a girl who had been in our class. It was the morning of one of my University Finals exams, and I spent a few minutes crying, a few more feeling sad, before having to start cramming for the paper at 9.30am. David was a good friend of mine throughout primary school, but we never saw each other after we both went our separate ways into secondary education – me to Manchester Grammar, him to Sale Grammar – and I’ve no idea what he did post-sixth form. When I heard the news, I was upset because I remembered the effect he’d had on my future through the things that he had introduced me to; he was a huge Manchester City fan, and so I, who had never before followed football, began to support Manchester United, so we could have something to argue about; he introduced me to the video game Grand Theft Auto (the original ‘top-down view’ one); he lent me Eminem and Limp Bizkit albums – two artists that introduced me to rap and ‘metal’, and had a huge effect on me starting to listen to music, and I’m sure impacted upon the music I like now. Despite this, I struggled to remember anything that we actually ‘did’, any significant events that I could recall, look back on and smile.
Which is why things like the above pieces of paper are nice. I know I had a great time as a kid – I did brilliant things with brilliant people and had a lot of fun; I just happen not to remember most of them. So it’s nice to be reminded and reassured, every once in a while, that those things happened – even if I believe that it’s not memories of events that matter, but the events’ occurrence.
Next week, I’ll post another thing I found, a write-up of my experience as an extra in a TV drama about Bloody Sunday. It’s full of lies that a 10 year old would tell to make three days off school sound even more exciting than that already thrilling lesson-free event.