ME AND MY SCHOOL PHOTO; David Myers
Byline: Rachel Roberts
David Myers, 51, is better-known as one half of The Hairy Bikers, BBC's popular culinary double act. He lives on Roa Island, Morecambe Bay, with his partner, Lili, and two stepchildren.
This photograph is quite special for two reasons: it's in colour and it's one of the last I allowed to be taken before my hair started falling out.
I'm about six, and I'm doing the twist to Chubby Checker & The Fatboys. That's little Julie Boyd beside me. I loved the Christmas parties at Abbotsmead Infant School. All that lovely jelly, icecream and, of course, the giddy anticipation of Christmas.
I was a bright child, so I took my contribution to the annual Nativity play very seriously. One year, however, I kept getting my part on the Xylophone wrong. I could hear parents stifling giggles and I was so frustrated by the end, I hurled my mallets into the audience. My mum, Margaret, found me crying in the cloakroom.
My dad, Jim, was a foreman at the local paper mill, and would snaffle the rejected sheets for me. I would spend hours copying photos out of catalogues; that's where my love affair with art began. But I'm ashamed to recall making my dad pay for school dinners, even though I qualified for free ones at Cambridge Street Junior School. You had to hand over tokens, so it was really obvious who the poor kids were. Dad must have understood, because he never gave me a hard time. We got chips once a term, and lots of lovely sponges. Another hit was tinned tuna on top of mashed potato, with tomato soup poured on top like gravy, although, naturally, we all used to turn our noses up at tapioca, or frogs' spawn, as we called it.
There was a brilliant teacher, Mr Vendy, who would take a group of us boys on walking weekends to the Lake District. It cost six shillings, and we would go on spectacular hikes through the hills. Having to muck in with the washing up and cooking at the Youth Hostel at night was good experience for a 10-year-old boy. Back at school, I studied really hard and was one of two lads to take a special IQ test.
Mam was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 50; I was eight. Within two years, she was in a wheelchair. She had lead a really active life up until then, operating cranes in the shipyards during World War II, so she would get terribly frustrated.
My hair began falling out then, and when I was 14, I developed alopecia. Over a period of three weeks, I would wake up every morning to find clumps of hair clinging to my nylon sheets. The obvious cause was my mum's illness, but I wasn't overly anxious about it. I was too young to understand the reality of it at that point.
My biggest fear was that I was never going to get a girlfriend like the other boys in my class at Barrow Grammar School. …