Towards the end of Year 5, when I was not quite 11, I told my mum I thought I had a urinary tract infection. I’d had a UTI earlier that year and could come to no other reasonable conclusion for the cause of the curious dark-brown-red stain on my knickers. But shortly after I’d shared my discovery, my mum presented me with a pack of Libra Wings and a copy of What’s Happening to Me. Apparently puberty had arrived, apparently I was menstruating. I was not surprised, simply because I hadn’t been expecting it. I was more dismayed: What, a period? Not a urinary tract infection? Are you sure?
That night I got into bed with the book and flicked through its square pages. Its cartoon sketches of changing bodies annoyed me. My brother did frequent nudie runs through the house so I knew what a ‘doodle’ looked like. And the fat mum and dad having sex with a purring cat on the bedspread annoyed me even more. It felt very childish. Since I was at that weird child-adolescent phase – kind of like a merman – wasn’t I entitled to real-deal photographs? Alas, at the time, the personal computer’s main virtue was Piccadilly Pairs so cartoons and this one resource would have to do. I buried the book in my bottom drawer and referred to it from time to time over the following years. At school the next day, while standing next to the monkey bars, wood-chips underfoot, I told my friend I had my period. She told me that her older sister had her pyramid too.