Tag Archives: reminisce

Things I did when I was young

chess pieceHaving a child, as I’ve noted, sparks memories of your own childhood. Two in particular rose to the surface recently, and whilst neither is quite appropriate for Emily’s current state of cognitive development, they’re definitely ones I’d like to consider when the time comes.

The first was mental arithmetic. I must have been 6 or 7 years old, and my father – a trained corporate lawyer with a self-professed inability to deal with maths to any significant degree – started me off with some mental arithmetic workbooks. I’m sure I cheated at the time – I had a good memory and memory trumps calculation every time – but in time I definitely took in enough tips and tricks that to this date Mathemagic is a skill I carry with me and use on a daily basis. Admittedly my numeracy is a cause for some gentle mocking derision from my wife (“waaaaaaaah!” I can hear her say), but its inestimably useful.

The second was chess. My parents took us early on to classes with the Malaysian master, one Peter Long (and Jimmy Liew, an International master). Peter and Jimmy are still around somewhere, living the corporate life with some chess on the side, but at the time they ran chess classes for kids out of a house in suburban KL. It consisted primarily of Peter and Jimmy playing multiple games of chess simultaneously, against the clock, against all of us, and whilst I’m sure I didn’t think I enjoyed it that much at the time, I look back on it fondly and maintain some basic faculty with the game. My dad used to make us read books of openings and the like – in the hope perhaps that we would become the next Garry Kasparovs (it was the 80s, a heady time in the world of chess), but my sister winning in the under 12s category at a National tournament was the extent of our triumph. I did later tournament a little in the UK under the watchful eye of my Stowe English and chess teacher, Steven Thompson, acquiring a middling ranking on the UK chess circuit. But it’s been a long time, and we don’t currently even have a chess set.

So I’ve got a few things to buy before Emily hits the stage of cognitive development where either of these things might prove interesting, and have an enduring stack of gratitude for my parents for exposing me to stuff like this.

Also, chess sets are apparently expensive.

NB post edited following some memory prompts and helpful searches from my Dad and cousin Michelle. Thanks!


I’ve never really taken to massage. I think it’s down to the fact that my early experience of consisted entirely of my father getting us to massage his legs, which (much though I love my father) I never found that enjoyable.

When I was about 19 or 20 I had my first professional massage I think, a shiatsu treatment whilst on holiday in Bali. That hurt like hell, and didn’t do much to warm me to the practice. My most comic “massage” experience was a session with a native Chinese reflexologist who spoke barely any English (or Malay) in KL. He mostly communicated by poking me very hard in the foot, pointing at my genitals, and saying “this… that!” and occasionally asking if I wanted a Chinese wife. It was significantly bizarre.

Since then, and since acquiring shinsplints 3 or 4 years ago, I’ve only ever had massage for therapeutic purposes and it always hurts like the devil. Latest session completed today after two months of procrastination by the very capable folk at Urban Bliss. I’m in an appropriate amount of pain, relief and doziness now.

I do hate Portobello Road on a saturday, though.