Great news. I am younger than I thought. I don’t know what point I made the mistake but I am not, as I foolishly believed 19033 days old today, but a mere stripling of 18933. Thanks to Nick Corley for making me aware of my error. I presume at some point I added 101 instead of just 1, but I am not going back to find out when or indeed to change the previous entries.
The best news is I get to celebrate my 19000 day birthday again. And it means I’ve documented a huge 31.7118% of my life (unless I’ve fucked up the numbering of the entries also, which I wouldn’t put beyond me).
I was emailed an article from the Cheddar Valley Gazette from 5th May 1977 today. It’s 42 years old and yet it still features me. That can’t be possible. It’s about an athletic event in Yeovil in which I took part in the Colts (under 10?) 100 metres race. The CVG proudly notes that I achieved an impressive fifth place. But I was always small and plodding and I would be surprised if very more than five boys were taking part. My sister Jill (cruelly called Jull in the article, in an attempted Herring Gull pun perhaps) was the athlete. She was a fine county-level sprinter and also came second in the long jump. I tagged along to the club, I presume because it gave my parents a bit of a break, but was never going to achieve too much. I was a bit more adept at middle distance and recall a 400 metre race at the club where I streaked ahead of everyone (presumably in my age range) and won by a good distance. I came into my own a bit more in my teenage years and did well at the 800m, 1500m and cross country distances. But in 1977 I was not up to much.
I don’t know how many meets I participated at - maybe two or so. I do remember taking part in one 100 metre race (maybe this one), where there was some confusion at the starting line and the guy with the gun kept on refusing to start. I don’t know what the issue was - maybe someone was not behind the line, but he didn’t communicate with us effectively. I, and most of the runners were adopting a standing start, but one by one we dropped to our haunches, assuming the man wasn’t going to start unless all these nine year olds did the professional “on your marks, get set, go” manoeuvre. Of course I had no idea how to do that, so it just meant I got off to an even slower start than I would have done. The CVG did not report this travesty. Who knows, if I’d just been able to run on the gun I might have achieved fourth place.
I did do a 1500 metre race at some point in one of these meetings (but maybe not as a 9 year old), possibly after my success at longer distance in the club, but all I remember is that my shorts were loose (I suspect the elastic snapped mid race) and I had to run holding them up. This delighted the small crowd of spectators who would cheer me each time I passed. I think I came second last. But I was a hero to those simple Somerset folk. I am surprised they haven’t made a film about my heroism.
I have vague memories of my blue adidas track suit and getting badges to sew on to it (presumably to celebrate the fact that I turned up) and buying treats from an ice cream van or kiosk... all stirred up by an article that was meant to be fish and chip wrapping the next day, but thanks to the internet somehow survives to remind me of my athletic mediocrity (I required no reminders).
Also during one of these meets- maybe one that I wasn’t participating in - I went to play in the playground alone and when I went through a concrete pipe I was met by two kids sitting in there, one of whom pulled out a penknife and made threats. I don’t remember much about it beyond that, but I think I reacted sufficiently bravely for them to put the knife away and for us to become temporary friends. They were just trying to shit me up, which they definitely did, but maybe they expected me to bolt and misinterpreted me being frozen with fear for being filled with bravado and believing I had the ability to defeat them with my bare hands. If they'd just seen me in the 100 metres they would have known I wasn't a threat. But we played for a bit and then went our separate ways.
Isn’t childhood a strange time?