I used to love ice skating. I never learnt any twirling steps. I couldn’t skate backwards. I couldn’t cross one foot over the other. But forwards – I was something astonishing to behold.

It was great. It didn’t really matter that I wasn’t very good because I enjoyed it so much. I used to go with my friend, Alex.

Alex was my first friend. Although I know that’s a very cutesy statement, it’s also true. I met him before I started nursery school. I was two and he was three. I don’t remember a thing about it, but my mother made a point of introducing Alex’s parents to her other friends as ‘the parents of Petrina’s first friend.’

I’ve already explained how Alex loaned me his Atari when I was recovering from a skating-related twisted wrist, but I don’t think I mentioned how Alex’s dad helped us move to Devon.

When we left Croydon, we were a family of three – Mum, Dad and me, plus two dogs and half a dozen budgerigars.

My Dad drove our car, with the people and dogs in it, and Alex’s dad followed behind, all the way down the A303 in our decrepit old camper van, with two large cages, filled with the birds. As far as I recall, John didn’t stay, even for a coffee, but I think my Dad must have driven him back to the nearest train station.

Getting back to the skating… I was that awkward combination of chunky and shy, when I was a child. I like to think the years have improved me.

Now, I’m funny as well.

But my parents probably thought that some sort of physical hobby, with a lot of other people, would be good for me. I’ll say it: they were right. I got a lot fitter. I had a great time – nearly broken wrist notwithstanding. Also, in attending classes of around thirty other uncoordinated children (oh, yeah, there were classes), my confidence grew a little. People I drink with would never believe it, but I’m still working on that. I think we’re all a mix of desperately opinionated and worried about upsetting people. It helps if you can stop being so hard on yourself.

A smidge of wisdom for your Thursday. Take and enjoy.