When I was 7 or 8 and at primary school, there was a colouring competition. It was a Christmas scene that we had to colour in, from memory, and the prize was a full pack of 12 Conti Painting Pencils.
Conti Painting Pencils were at that time, in the opinion of every 8 year old child, the best pencils that money could buy. At first sight, they looked just like normal colouring pencils. BUT, if you dipped them into water, you could PAINT with them!! They were a prize well worth winning, so it would have been worth putting that little bit more effort into any competition that had them as a prize.
The night before the competition entries needed to be in, I remembered I hadn’t yet coloured in my picture. I had forgotten about it up until that point, and upon finding it I burst into tears. It was about 8 at night, and I had to go to bed. It was far too late in the day to start colouring it. I realised that the pencils would never be mine, and I was absolutely gutted and went to bed very upset.
So that night, my Dad coloured it in for me.
It might be worth pointing out that my Dad is quite a good artist, and not just in school colouring competitions. Nowadays he has a website from which he sells his paintings – http://www.neilzart.co.uk – but it is something he’s always been good at.
So the morning after, on the final day for colouring competition entries, I took the scene that my Dad had coloured in, and handed it into school.
At the end of the week, in assembly, they announced the winners. I forget who third place went to. I think second place went to my friend Helen, (who incidentally would also come second in a dressing up competition later in my life, when she went as “a blancmange”,) and I ended up being announced as the colouring competition winner.
I went up to the front, collected my Conti Painting Pencils, and remember very little else about that morning.
The pencils stayed in my desk for months. I didn’t use them. Just knowing that I owned them was enough.
So…… 15 years later, I’m sat in a pub with my semi-cousin Ivan and another good mate, Lee Phillips. Years previously we were all in the same school years, all through primary school and secondary school too. We were discussing stories from our childhood whist getting drunk.
I decided that whilst I was sat with good friends, in a good atmosphere, it was time to confess all. I started the story with “Remember in primary school, when we had that competition to win Conti Painting Pencils?”
“Yeah!” enthused Lee. “Didn’t you win that?”
“Yeah! How cool was that?!?” I replied, “but I need to confess something.”
They listened to me re-tell the above story.
Lee didn’t take it well at all. As soon as I said the words “my dad coloured it in for me,” I could see him start to fume. I thought that he would crush his pint glass in his bare hand out of rage. It’s the one and only time that Lee has ever called me a b#stard.
Luckily, although Lee was absolutely outraged at my cheating, buying him another pint seemed to calm him down. I don’t think he’ll ever fully forgive me.