1. Mike Conboy
The weekend started here. A few days before I was going up, my old mate Mike Conboy got in touch to say he was back for a couple of weeks from New Zealand, where he emigrated countless years ago. This was the first time I'd seen him in 28 years. I only had an hour, so we went for a pint in what used to be the Moss, where we'd go for a drink before Altrincham FC home games from the age of 14 without anyone being interested how old we were. Beer has gone up. Great to see Mike, a really nice guy with a surreal and brilliant sense of humour.
2. Riddings Court
A soulless little estate in a soulless suburb. This isn't the original street sign - that was stolen by a teenage idiot a long time ago as a souvenir when he left home. In fact I ... erm ... whoever did it only took it to the tip a couple of months ago.
Our house - the middle one in the picture - was one of the first finished when we moved in, so we had the excitement of living on a building site for a year. It was a sad day when my sister chased me into a kitchen where a startled family were having lunch, and we realized it wasn't our playground any more. This photo is taken from the spot where my sister's bike skidded from under her when we were doing speedway racing on the unsurfaced road. She took all the skin from up the side of her leg, and the bloodstains on the floorboards of the house are still visible.
3. house and parents
My parents in front of the house they've lived in for 44 years. The garage used to be me and my friends' goals for playing football in the road, but the best game we played with the garage was filling it with cardboard boxes we'd collected, then riding our bikes full tilt into into it. In teenage years the garage was the place where I'd come back with friends and carry on after the pub closed, if we still had nonsense to talk.
Here they are on their wedding day in Leicester, 1957.
4.St Hugh's Roman Catholic Primary School
The next summer we went on holiday to Ireland, staying in a little village called Annestown in Waterford, just past the arse-end of nowhere.
5. St Ambrose
I passed the eleven plus and went to the nearest Catholic school, just over three miles away so I got the free bus pass, hoping to continue my education with uneducated, alcoholic, brainwashed thugs. My luck was in! The Christian Brothers were shadows of their former fearsome reputation by now, but a couple of them could still inflict pain. First-year French, which I'd really been looking forward to, consisted of Brother Owen reading to us about all the miracles that had taken place at Lourdes. We were motivated to listen because if we didn't, he would hit us on the hand twice with a three-play leather shaving strop.
One of my main general memories is I was always starving. In Brother Rynne's ... ahem ... 'lessons' ... I always used to pick out Extracts from the diary of Samuel Pepys, and turn to the page where he said what he had for lunch - 'a piece of plain fish'. I was so hungry, I just read the paragraph with that sentence in for forty minutes, dribbling desperately.
I actually got to really like Brother Rynne a lot by the time I left - there was a sweet man under the brutal exterior, and I felt really sad he'd been pushed to spend his life in that way. A couple of years after I'd left he fell asleep in bed while smoking and accidentally burned down a good part of the Brothers' house, killing the oldest Brother.
Here's the house where the Brothers lived in celibacy and whisky-fumes.
The extracurricular syllabus at the school was surreal. The one trip we went on was to the Imperial War Museum in London. The coach journey took six hours. The museum was closed that day - no one had thought to check. So we came back.
The school's careers service, however, was solid and efficient. 'Would you like to become a priest?' asked Brother Doyle.
OK. Can you send the next boy in, then.'
Sex education came without warning. Classes were suddenly interrupted one morning and the whole school was ushered to the assembly hall. There was an atmosphere of dread among the Brothers - had the Pope died? We noticed there was a projector and screen at the front of the hall, which itself caused a ripple of excitement, as we thought the school only had a cassette player.
Brother Rynne walked to the front and there was silence. 'You need to watch this', he said sheepishly, and pressed the on switch. The screen crackled into silent action, and you could make out a blurred image of two people. It came into focus for a few seconds, and you could see it was a man and a woman on a beach. They were wearing swimming costumes, holding hands and looking at each other. The image crackled off. Was that the end? What was happening? Suddenly an image filled the screen. We just had time to see it was a penis, covered in seeping sores, and the screen went black for good.
Brother Rynne stepped to the front, even redder than usual. 'Right, back to class!' he barked.
No one was quite sure what message to take away, but I for one haven't been on a beach since.
My household job from when I was eight was to do the washing-up on Sundays. Not much to ask I suppose, but it included everything from a roast dinner. I looked forward to it because that's when I listened to the Top 40. It was a big thing then.
8. back garden
I've included the corner of our postage-stamp back garden in my memories because this was where I had one of my most painful accidents. There used to be a small tree in the corner, which my dad clumsily sawed back, and which was pretty much covered by foliage. When I was about 13, I climbed over the fence to retrieve a football, then back onto the fence to come back over. Instead of clambering down, I stood on top of the fence, about five feet up, and jumped. My feet were about six inches from the ground and I was approaching terminal velocity when the pointed vertical branch of the tree rammed up into the nerves and tendons of my armpit and stopped me dead in midair. With my weight holding me down, I dangled in a fireball of armpit pain for a couple of minutes until I managed to wriggled free and fall in a heap.This is an artist's ghostly reconstruction of the incident. I think Edward Munch did the mouth.