4 years old and with a sense of adventure I slowly made my way up the gargantuan hill that is Trilby Road, Forest Hill. My yellow Raleigh bicycle by my side free from the shackles of those 'street cred' inhibiting stabilisers. I’d not long learnt to ride on just two wheels and was keen to take this new found freedom to some far out places.
It was definitely a school holiday, either Easter or Summer but the weather was dry and mild on a peaceful afternoon in 1990. I’d managed to drag my wonderful late mother to said road in order to impress her with my high speed hill bombing antics. I’m sure she told me to ‘be careful’ on more than one occasion!
I flew down that street a good few times with the wind in my now receding ginger locks and a beaming smile as mum looked on below. Each descent began higher and higher up the hill. Brimming with bravado I set off on what was surely the last ride as my master was probably thinking about dinner by this point.
So I’ve hauled myself to the summit, take in the view, a deep breath and then push off on my right pedal. Mummy certainly looks very small down there, I thought to myself. There’s no time for any more observations however as this ride is like no other. The wind licks my hair a lot sooner than expected, this is real speed that a 4 year old can’t handle. I hurtle down the hill in an uncontrollable manner, everything just becomes a blur. The brakes! of course! but my little hands can’t reach them as the handlebars start to wobble and shake violently. I don’t have the strength to tame this yellow stallion and lose control. I veer off right towards the kerb and a tree but before I reach it my front wheel hits something solid (a concrete slab pushed up by tree roots) and I’m thrown over those handlebars face first into the concrete.
The shock and adrenaline hit me instantly, I sprang back onto my feet and, with blood pouring, loosened teeth and throbbing pain, ran towards my equally panic stricken mother. In later years Mum said she felt her stomach turn upon witnessing this catastrophe! It turned out that I’d suffered a big cut on my chin