Amongst Gabe’s contemporaries, puberty is showing itself in grand growth spurts (height and foot size), yoyoing voices and deteriorating skin. Gabe remains small and slight, almost completely unsullied yet by the hormone assault – but not wholly so. A spot has erupted on his chin. It could have come and gone without mention, but he’s picked it and it sits splayed across the skin below his mouth. There’s so much more of this to come.


The annual gymnastics club championship is the sole competitive focal point of Eliza’s year. She prepared assiduously for her floor routine, supplementing the twice weekly practice with time at home. Vault, beam and bars could only be rehearsed at the gym. On the night, a girl one year older was the outstanding gymnast in her class, but Eliza did well at bars, beam (completing a backward walkover) and vault (her least favourite discipline). And on the floor her practice paid off with a faultless display.

Yet, when the scores were read and medals awarded, she was placed for bars, vault and beam, but not for floor. She was ‘floored’ and upset, not really consoled by a third place overall.


Robin and his best friend, A, are in different classes at school this year. They play together every break and nag to be at each other’s houses after school. Being with A was part of Robin’s decision not to play with the under 9 football team, but to practise with his under 8 age group. Wherever they are, they play some variant of football, sliding, diving and shooting.

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