I was 12 when we left New Zealand for the UK. I was starting an entirely different school where no one knew me and I decided that this was my chance to be one of the trendy kids. I wasn’t unpopular at primary school but I was overweight and my worship of all things trivial placed me firmly in the “Geek” section of the Venn Diagram of my school’s cliques.
Somewhere in my prepubescent brain I hit upon the idea that I could shed my unwanted pounds and would increase my social standing if only I had the right cricket bat. So I pleaded and hounded and bargained with Mum and Dad until eventually they agreed to let me cash in an advance against three years worth of Christmas and birthday presents for a Slazenger V100.
As I was new, I arrived earlier than the returning boys so I could be given a tour of the boarding house. The housemaster, Mr. Wood, showed me to the dormitory I would be sharing with three others and then left. As soon as he was out of sight I dove towards my new trunk, threw it open, pulled out my cricket bat and made sure there wasn’t anyway you could enter the room without seeing the length of willow leaning against my bed frame.
The problem was that when I left New Zealand it was December and the middle of the cricket season. In England it was winter and the sport played that term was hockey. No one really cared about cricket bats and by the time summer finally did come around my classmates had had sufficient time to get to know me and realise that I wasn’t cool.