The best way to learn new words, they say, is the way that children learn: by hearing them used in context.

You get out of bed, pick up your clothes and run along the hall to the kitchen. You put your clothes on the top of the big stool so your mother can dress you. The stool is a little taller than you are. The sun is shining and everything is good. In a few years you will wonder why you remember this morning.

If you wake up and your parents are still in bed you can go into their bedroom. Sometimes your father sticks his leg out of the bed so you can hold on to it and ride up and down.

When I go to bed my father comes and kisses me good-night. My mother used to kiss me good night as well, but now if I call her she says she has a bone in her leg. That's stupid: everyone has bones in their legs.

One night my mother comes into my room and wakes me up. She is crying very loud. I start crying, too. She lies down on my bed and holds on to me and cries a lot. I wish she would go away.

You finish nursery and go to school. After your first day at school your parents come to pick you up and take you home. That is stupid: you know the way to walk home alone.

Your parents talk over dinner about child-centered teaching methods and children from troubled homes. They are teachers. They often shout at each other when you are in bed. Your mother is loud, your father shouts quietly.

I have a scar on my forehead. It's been there as long as I can remember. I asked my mother where it came from, and she said I tripped over a doorstep. I can't see how that would give me a scar like this, but she won't tell me any more.

Sometimes my mother wants to hug me. I can't breathe properly when she does that and she smells funny. So I get out as quick as I can. I have an explanation so she won't get upset: once you've hugged, you've hugged, so you don't need to hug any more. It's better not to upset her.

Your teacher is pink and fat and not very clever. Sometimes she shouts, but she isn't stupid very often.

She holds up cards with words on them, and you have to read them out loud together with the other children. But they don't all say the words at the same time. So you try to do it along with as many as possible. She gives some of the children books to read. You wonder why you haven't got one yet.

It hurts when the wind blows the snow against my bare knees. The snow is too deep and it gets into my shoes and makes my socks wet. My duffel coat isn't enough to keep me warm. When we were at my grand-pa's we made some really nice snowmen. The snowmen never work properly here.

Sometimes you forget to read out loud when you are reading in groups. Your teacher lets you read in a smaller group, with just you and Stephen. Stephen is quite clever, and the other children like him. She gives the two of you something more interesting to do when the others are doing boring sums.

Your mother makes you go to Sunday school. It's boring and they talk about stupid things. They have stupid pictures to colour in and tell stupid stories.

The headmistress wished us a happy Christmas. She said when we come back after the holidays it will be nineteen sixty-nine. I didn't know this year has a number, too. That was in assembly, where we have to sing hymns. Some of the tunes are quite good but the words don't usually make sense.

Hymns are really for Church. The Church is a big building where you have to be quiet. The Vicar is in charge. There was a second vicar, called a curate, but he ran away. A woman ran away with him. I wonder where they ran to. And why they couldn't take the bus.

The Apollo spaceships are going to the Moon. You read all you can about them in the newspapers and in the colour supplement, and watch all the programmes you are allowed on the television. You learned to read in school last year, so you are used to learning a lot of new words. Your parents smile at how you pronounce some of them.

You read a lot. Your father takes you to the library every week. You like science and some story books. You don't like stories where the children are stupid.

A lot of the other children don't like me. They hit me sometimes. I don't know why. I think it might be because I'm no good at football. The boys play with the boys, and the girls play with the girls. One of the girls is my friend but we can't play together at school.

Sometimes on the radio there are people talking about children. They say stupid things. They don't seem to have been children. When I get there I'll tell them what it's really like.

They're landing on the Moon today. On the news they said it's going to be on the television, but late at night, after your bedtime. You ask if you can watch it. Your parents say no straight away, so you know there's no point arguing.

You saw the Moon landing the next day, when it had already happened. That doesn't count.

Our teacher is stupid. She tied me to the desk one day and stuck sticky tape over my mouth. The first time she put our names on a list I was at the top, along with Stephen. Now I'm eighteenth. How can I be clever then and stupid now? She just made it up because she doesn't like me. She keeps giving me black marks but I don't care because they don't mean anything.

A lot of the children like gold stars and hate black marks. They don't understand it's only the teacher being stupid. The other children aren't as clever as me, but they aren't as stupid as Mrs Taylor.

There's a word people talk about a lot. It's on the news and in the papers. There are songs with it and the hippies like it. You don't know what it means.

There are a lot of people making trouble in the news: demonstrators, strikers, and hippies. They all look the same in the news. You wonder why they don't get into trouble for making trouble. You ask why they don't just put the strikers in prison. You parents think this is funny, but you don't know why.

There are some things other children know more about than me. I don't know how they know them. Sometimes they make me say I'm sorry because I upset someone and they say I should have known something. But I didn't.

I don't like hurting people. So I don't hit them, even when they hit me.

You watch Doctor Who with your father, because if he isn't there you have to hide behind the sofa. Your father hardly ever shouts at you, but when he does it's worse.

You ask your mother about the word everyone keeps using. She says it's like between you and her and how you feel about each other. You don't know what she's talking about.

I don't know who is going to leave. I hope it's my mother and not my father. She shouts too much.

It's not just single years that have numbers. There were the 30s with the gangsters and the 40s with the war and the 50s with the Rock and Roll. Now it's the 60s and everyone is talking about love. I don't know what they mean.