I was a precocious child. I went on my first school trip, exploring France, age 6 months. By 18 months, I could ‘read’ this. Or at the very least, I’d memorised the words and new the appropriate places at which to turn the page. It used to drive my extremely traditional grandad up the wall, as he knew I couldn’t really recognise the letters. When, I was two, I ceased to be an only child by the introduction of my baby brother. This momentous occasion was met with indifference on my behalf. In the hospital (after questioning the wisdom of storing a young baby in a fish tank), I lasted all of three minutes before declaring, “I’ve seen him, can we go now please daddy?”.
Six months later, the health visitor was calling and I was playing with my farm. I refused to be drawn into conversation, despite my mothers protestations, and as the meeting progressed the HV became increasingly concerned for the welfare of this strangely silent child. Eventually she lowered herself to my level. “Aren’t those lovely cows…” she said expectantly. I turned, and in a remarkably condescending voice for a child of my age replied, “Well actually, those are friesians and that’s a charolais bull”. She didn’t quite no what to say after that little outburst. I knew the names of the butterflies in the air, the animals in the field and the plants in the ground to a far greater degree than I do now, more than twenty years later.
Age four, we moved following my fathers job from the southern coast to the as yet unexplored wilds of Yorkshire.