I had a terrible nights sleep. I was over excited and the night had been filled with deep, dark, disturbing wake up and sweat dreams. Eventually Mum woke me up with a cup of coffee and some breakfast and started the most important day of my life with the inspiring words “ you look terrible, do you feel alright?”
Actually I didn’t feel all right. At the age 14 I had a trial for Plymouth Argyle Football Club and I was feeling what could only be described as the beginnings of nervous hysteria. I felt hyperactive, panicky. I had totally lost all self-confidence and I was absolutely knackered and drained. Heaven knows what I would be like when I actually got on the pitch and started playing. So, as you do when you’re 14, I said to Mum “ yeah I’m fine, stop fussing”.
So off we set from our home in rural Somerset to the trial at a place called Ermington in deepest South Devon. Well at least that’s where we thought it was as my Dad was in charge of driving and navigation and had delegated the task of map reading to my Mum. Now my Mum, bless her, has many fantastic qualities, but reading one of those huge maps that you have to unfold 15 times, in a misting up Hillman Husky Estate Car and with a husband whose driving vision is 70% obscured by the map and who sarcastically pulls away, with the words “ which way now then?” – isn’t one of them. All of which heightens the tension all round and causes me to practically bounce around the back seat, like a hyperactive terrier.
Mum orders Dad to stop, where between them, after much squabbling and turning the map every which way, they eventually sort the route out. Wherein, Dad, not the most patient of men, makes a pathetic attempt to fold the map back up, gives up on the second go and lobs it as a crushed paper ball to me in the back seat to sort out.
A mile into the journey Mum has got the flask of coffee out, which further adds to the misting windows and takes a half of one of her Valium tablets. Seeing the state I’m in she suggests it might be a good idea for me to take a quarter of a tablet to calm me down. So I did. 5 minutes later I’m sound asleep on the back seat and don’t wake up for the next two and half-hours. I only woke up then because I can hear raised voices in the front as we have arrived half an hour late and my parents are trying to apportion blame. Me, I couldn’t care less. I’m in a different world man!