Michael Cook wonders if he's living on a different planet

10th June 2005 at 01:00
An email comes from a name I don't recognise. There's nothing unusual about this. Barely an hour goes by when I am not contacted by "Trey Frogspawn" or "Unique McCookerybook" offering me a cheap mortgage or enhanced genitalia.

This email, though, has not only passed through the wily attention of my spam killer, but also comes from the more sedately named "Martin Gladstone". I um and er about opening it, worried that I might unleash a mighty virus that will take down my PC, bank account, and possibly most of the world's electronic technology (which would be a shame as my parents have just bought a bread-maker).

But Martin Gladstone is genuine. He has got in contact via Friends Reunited and thinks we were in infant school together. And somewhere at the back of my mind there is a tickle of an inkling of a spark of a memory of a boy with curly hair and a West Ham scarf whose name may well have been Matthew or Martin or something. I email back that, yes, I think he might be right.

At which, Martin unleashes a torrent of events, places, pranks and parties that we shared because apparently at the age of seven we were not just classmates, but the absolute best buddies of all time before my parents broke up our glorious friendship by moving house. And I'd forgotten.

Then, today, Class 6 queue outside in groups with their model moon-buggies so that I can spray them silver, and I wonder if they will remember this happy, sunny day in 30 years' time. I can't stand to think they'll forget their best friends.

Next we make papier-mache planets. A beach-ball Jupiter, a tiny egg-sized (and, unfortunately, egg-shaped) Mercury. But when we've pretty much finished our nine planets, Alfie takes me to one side. According to him, we've missed out a planet. Planet X. And now he mentions it, at the back of my mind there is a tickle of a spark of a memory of reading something somewhere sometime about a new astronomical discovery. It might well have been a planet. With curly hair and a West Ham scarf, if I'm not mistaken.

So sorry, Martin. It's not just you. I've forgotten the existence of an entire planet. Can I blame it on the fumes from the silver spray paint?

Michael Cook is a freelance copywriter and a parent helper at Ernehale infants school, Arnold, Nottingham, which his children, Alfie and Poppy, attend

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