‘I wonder if my sister fully comprehends how much those first years changed me before she came along’
adulthood. In secondary school she was a promising runner and was very popular. She remembers her time at school fondly and has stayed in touch with old friends.
I remember my schools, particularly the one in Great Yarmouth, with terror; always the ‘new girl’ with the strange accent and the wrong clothes, an easy target for bullies. Because I found it difficult to make friends (why make friends only to leave them again?), I spent my childhood escaping into books, TV programmes and my own head, while my sister was always out with one group of friends or another. She still describes Great Yarmouth as ‘home’; I still say I didn’t find home until I arrived in London to start university at 20.
Strangely, I wouldn’t swap my upbringing for my sister’s, and I’m sure she wouldn’t switch her more traditional one for mine. We both benefited and were affected in different ways by our childhoods; so wholly disparate we might as well have had separate families. Because I grew up in a constant state of flux, as an adult I am totally unafraid of change; instead I seek it out, seeing it as an adventure and an opportunity. I inherited my mum’s independence and itchy feet and travelled widely before settling in London, though I still get away frequently and often alone — most recently to the wilds of Siberia. I believe that my colourful but challenging childhood, full of council- estate characters and weekends sitting at home watching black and white films