Kevin Myers: Until you've played rugby with miners' sons, you can't understand the term 'near-death experience'
Memory is a curious thing. I was out walking my dogs in the driving rain and howling wind yesterday, when a spaceship visited me from the distant galaxy of my youth. A panel in the side of the spaceship opened, and I walked aboard. And there, all around me, was a forgotten episode from my early years, unvisited all these decades.
I was playing for Ratcliffe under-16s against Coalville Grammar School. Coalville was -- is -- a small town in Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire. Nearby lie the beautiful villages of Normanton le Heath, Appleby Parva, Norton-Juxta-Twycross and Woodhouse Eves. Coalville is what it says in the name.
When the Romans arrived, its inhabitants hid in the mines until they'd gone. Coalville-folk speak aboriginal Pictish, their faces are usually adorned with a single long eyebrow, and whatever few teeth they possess are usually molars, crowded on to their front gums.