Here are some things you may not know about me:
1) When I was in the sixth-form, I was asked to help new girls in the First Year who were considered to be 'remedial readers'. One girl struggled with her reading so much that she had no confidence at all. She believed she would never learn to read and her parents were worried. I taught her in the dinner-hour once a week. I don't think anyone had ever told her that she could do it, but it was clear that she really wanted to.
The day before I left school, I was summoned to see the Head of English, a huge and terrifying woman. I thought she'd spotted me sneaking out early the day before to avoid P.E. I was shaking with fear.
But she told me the little girl's parents had contacted her to say how pleased they were with the reading progress she had made and they wanted her to pass on their thanks.
I can't think of any work I've done since that has proved more rewarding than that.
2) I am painfully, cripplingly shy. As an adult, I strive to conceal it, but as a child, I simply didn't talk to anyone and hid whenever the doorbell or telephone rang.
3) I love make-up. I put it all on every morning. I think it's the ritual I like. That and the fact that I am very vain. My husband has noticed that I even put it on before going into the garden to let the chickens out.
4) As a teenager, I wasn't allowed friends in my bedroom. And I wasn't allowed friends round at all when my parents were out at work. But one day when I was alone, my boyfriend appeared on the doorstep and, with fear and trepidation, I invited him to my room to see my guitar. Honestly!
I heard my father come home unexpectedly early and had to tell Pete to keep very still and quiet, while I went downstairs and pretended everything was normal. I couldn't sneak him out while my father was pottering around and cooking tea, so I went back up in a state of great tension. Pete was quaking in his Doc Martens.
"Keep playing," he urged, pointing at the guitar. "Then your Dad will think you're just up here acting normally."
All I knew was 'Whiter Shade Of Pale'. I played it about ninety times until my Dad disappeared into another room, clear of the staircase and escape route.
I made Pete take off his Doc Martens and creep downstairs, avoiding the step that creaked.
I pushed him out of the back door and then hared round to the front room where Dad was sitting to draw the curtains before he spotted Pete legging it down the road.
We got away with it. But never again!
5) On my first night at university, I stayed in my room in the hall of residence, too scared to emerge and go to eat in the dining hall with everyone else. I listened to them all walking along the corridor, talking away as if they'd already known each other for years, but couldn't bring myself to join them. I was so hungry I couldn't sleep.
In the morning I listened for the girl opposite me to come out of her door and crept out at the same moment. She was so friendly and sweet I almost cried with relief. And rage at myself for being so timid the night before.
6) The other reason for waiting for someone to walk with was that I have never possessed any sense of direction at all. Alone, I wouldn't have found the dining hall or my way back from it.
I am more likely to notice a particular blade of grass or the tilt of an unsteady litter-bin than I am to absorb which way I'm going.
The phrase, 'Retrace your steps', means nothing to me, since I take no notice of where I've planted them on the way to anywhere.
7) My father and I were once so absorbed in reading at the kitchen table (he was studying the racing page in the newspaper and I was glued to 'Mandy'), that we just lifted our feet up and tucked them under us when the floor flooded.
My mother had opened the fridge to defrost it and then disappeared to do other things. It must have gone into a sudden meltdown, but we were too engrossed to worry about it. I did spot a small puddle initially and my father suggested we point it out to my mother upon her return. After that, we just kept turning our pages and made sure we kept our socks dry.
She was not impressed when she had to paddle her way back in.
Thank you for this trip down Memory Lane, Teresa! I've enjoyed reminiscing!