Present TV shows.
I was convinced an audience would be really interested in the “potions” I made in the bath by squashing bubbles until they turned almost-liquid and packaging them in the cup I used to rinse my hair. I knew I had to be subtle about it, though, because once I was doing a TV show about schoolwork (this was before I started school, which is definitely the best time to broadcast your advice about how to handle it) while my mum was hoovering and she heard me loudly declare “AND YOU MAKE SURE TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK EVERY DAY,” and she turned the hoover off and said “What?” and I said “Nothing.”
My facility in the field of imaginary television is not something I can put on a CV, but back then I truly thought I was really, really good at it.
Change at will from human to animal.
I genuinely thought I could do this. So much so that when my second cousin came over to visit me, I said, in hushed tones, “I’m an Animorph, so I can turn from a person into whatever animal I want. Would you like to be one?” She looked at me, very nervous, and said, “I’m okay as I am, thank you.”
Decide what I would take from my church, should it fall into bankruptcy.
I was an altar server, in a church where a lot of the altar servers had a cool holy clique that I wasn’t part of. When I wasn’t engaged in a thumb war with a much older kid with the name of an apostle, or being called a lesbian by these two very nasty kids that were decidedly un-Christian, I was looking at all the gold and silver and gilt and thinking, I want that. I imagined the priest as an auctioneer up on the lectern, selling off candles and the glass wine containers and the swingy incense thing. For some reason, in this fantasy I would be allowed one special item for free. I would spend ages thinking about this. I thought it was wise to have a plan.
Look after my dogs.
I was very, very into dogs. I would watch tapes of old Crufts shows before going to sleep at night; I wrote a sister magazine of ‘Mother and Baby’ called ‘Mother and Puppy’, with detailed birth stories and adverts for luxury dog treats in the back pages. But I didn’t have a dog, so I had to make them up.
There were lots over the years – in Nursery class, I drew a picture of a few of them, and a classroom assistant said, “Aw, that’s nice, who’s that?” and I said “MY DOGS.” One Saturday morning I woke up my parents because one of the dogs was giving birth. I sat on my parents’ bed and narrated the events as they happened. It was the World Cup final of imaginary dog-owning.
I also wrote a very detailed dozen-page self-insert fanfiction about my life being exactly the same as it already was, only featuring a little terrier called Bobby.
Prepare for a nuclear apocalypse.
I read ‘The Fire Eaters’ by David Almond, about the Cuban Missile Crisis, when I was around ten, and it VERY MUCH freaked me out. I made a “survival kit”, placing (useless) objects inside a plastic wallet and keeping it on my desk, should a nuclear strike occur. There was one bit of the book where all the characters spend the evening on a beach the day before they think the bombs are going to be launched and I lived inside that evening for ages. Once I was walking on the beach with my family and I saw a younger boy dressed in an army costume and I was like HE KNOWS. BUT HE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO HELP US WHEN THE BOMBS LAUNCH. WE WILL ALL DIE THEN, IN SLOW AND HORRIFYING WAYS. My eyes teared up a bit.
This era of my imagination was marked by many worried posts on the CBBC forum about nuclear war.
Know, in my heart of hearts, that I was a witch.
I just thought I was a witch. Instead of thinking of myself as a girl, I would, inside my own head, refer to myself as a witch. I knew that this identity was a little awkward, because no one around me had any magical abilities at all, so I hid this truth about myself with a world-weary cynicism. Like, it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t the most important part of me. But…you know. It was kind of who I was.