It was the summer between the end of my first year and second year at university. Like most students, I had been to Magaluf in July where my friend Donna from my course and I had enjoyed the experience to the full. I worked part-time in a local pub. Nowadays, I suppose, it would be classed as a gastropub. No heavy drinking, just couples and families having a meal out in an informal pub setting. I generally worked a couple of evenings and Sunday lunchtime. The pay was poor, but if you gave good service and a cheery smile, the tips were very good indeed. Back

I opened the front door as I came in from school. Being 14 at the time, I had my own key, unlike my sister April who was aged 10 or 11 and was collected by mum from school. I opened the door and was about to shout, ‘I’m home mum’ when I heard a raised voice. Mum. “How could you? Mrs Davies of all people. She’s so lovely. I am very, very disappointed with you, April,” Mum scolded. It sounded like they were in the kitchen. “But mum, I didn’t!” April was whining. “Honestly!” “Balderdash! No one else would have put it there,” Mum continued.

One day during the summer holidays my sister decided to dye her hair. Nowadays, teenagers with brightly coloured hair are a common sight, but back in the seventies it was practically unheard of. The only people one ever saw with coloured hair were pop stars and clowns. Rebecca had watched a TV show set in space in the future with her current boyfriend. He had made several comments about the attractiveness of one of the characters who had bright red hair, not as in ginger but actually bright red, and Rebecca thought it would be a good idea to impress

My sister and I had sneaked into an orchard near where we lived with the idea of stealing a few ripe-looking peaches. Then we heard someone shout, “Stop!” I called to my sister to run for it “Don’t even think of scarpering, you two,” a voice shouted. “I know exactly who you are, and I know your grandma!” “What shall we do?” asked my sister, April, clearly scared and regretting trespassing in the orchard. I pointed out it was her that had wanted the peaches, and that it was probably her bright yellow dress that gave us away. I quickly realised

In my sister’s final year at school, she took part in a foreign exchange trip organised by the school. Our village had recently been twinned with a similarly sized village in Northern France. A group of girls from our school were to spend a week staying with the families of the French students, who would in turn be staying in their homes. Rebecca would be staying with the family of a girl named Simone, and Simone would be staying with us. Although organised by the school, no one would be expected to attend lessons which had nothing to do with

My sister Alison was at a sleepover down the road at her friend Rose’s house, along with their friend Maggie. It was a Friday night and the girls had a film to watch and loads of sweets. Rose’s big brother Bill, who was in my class, recounted this story to me the very next day. I just wish I had been there to see what unfolded. What big brother wouldn’t? Mum and I were having a quiet evening as Alison took her sleeping bag, change of clothes, and a bag of goodies down the road to Rose’s house. Mum watched attentively through the net curtains

It was a hot, late summer’s Saturday evening. I was about 14 at the time and full of spots and hormones. Lucy, by contrast, was a goddess, or she was to all the lads on the street. At 18-years-old, almost 6 feet tall, slim, short blond hair and legs that seemed to go on forever. I was lucky, she lived next door and I often got to see her sunbathing with her girlfriends in the garden. It was an evening like any other, well up until about 9.00 pm, just as it was going dark. Mum was out with a friend across the road, but

Christmas morning.  about 5am. I knocked on my parents’ bedroom door. “Can I go down and open my presents now, please?” “For goodness sake, Harriet. It’s not even light yet. Get back to bed this instant.” “But Mum, please. I can’t sleep.” “No. Get back to bed. You can open your presents when I get up at seven o’clock.” “But Mum.” “I said ‘no’, Harriet. If I hear another word from you you’ll be opening your presents with a sore bottom! Do you understand?” I went back to bed and lay there, wide awake and frustrated, until, a long while later,

I have a vivid memory, back in the late 1990s, of the headmistress of my junior school calling my stepdad out of work to collect me from school. I had been caught stealing from the tuck shop. I had been excluded from school for 2 weeks. I was 11-years-old. As soon as, he arrived, I was terrified. At that point, he was my mum’s boyfriend of about 4 months and had recently moved in with us. My mother was out of town at the time, and he was the closest person able to come to school and get me. While

I was fourteen years old and my parents considered me old enough to be left at home without the need for a babysitter. My sister was out at a friend’s house, and my best friend Sarah was round at ours. Mum and Dad were going out to a concert in town and we would have the house to ourselves. It was a Friday, so we had no school in the morning, and Sarah was allowed to stay until ten o’clock. At around half past six, as my parents were leaving the house, Mum kissed me goodbye and told me to