1. I am partial to the 2003 FA Cup Final.

Tennis Lessons

Tennis Lessons

I was 10, and I had crushes on the entire Arsenal starting 11. It was a big match for Southampton’s Chris Baird, who’s from Antrim, and Robert Pires, who hadn’t long returned from injury. He scored the only goal in the match. It was great.

2. I’m not not psychic.

Prior to his getting injured I had a drawing of Pires published in Junior Gunners magazine. I really struggled with depicting knees, and his leg ended up looking like a Wotsit. A year later, he suffered a cruciate ligament injury, and I’ve always wondered if my bad drawing was actually prophetic, and maybe I’m the Athenais to Robert Pires’ Alexander the Great.

3. I’m vegan.

When I was a teenager I rollerbladed over the edge of an open manhole and plummeted several feet into a mire of chunky sewage.

I tried to get up; my wrist was at a counterintuitive angle and there was blood seeping through my sleeve. I called to the circular port of light above me, mistaking it, in my impact-fugue, for a deity. ‘Help,’ I said, but nobody came. Nobody, that is, but the trio of animals that emerged from the swathes of darkness: an etiolated goat, a pig, a salubrious-looking chicken, and a lobster. They stacked themselves atop one another, like the musicians of Bremen, and something in the leucistic goat’s eyes beckoned me. I shed my rollerblades and climbed up the animals, careful not to hurt them and to keep my injured arm close to my chest. The last thing I heard, before I was permitted back into the day, was the lobster. ‘Do us a favour and stop eating us,’ he said. I’ve never forgotten it.

4. I play the oboe.

There’s something to be said for being almost-proficient in an instrument hardly anyone plays; I would recommend it much more than trying to be good at something lots of people are good at, like the piano or violin.

5. I play the piano. Badly.

See above.

6. I got degloved when I was a child.

I mean in the proper, Shakespearean sense. I was on a toboggan, and I temporarily forgot the very basic instructions for acceleration and deceleration: pull lever towards you, slow down; push lever away from you, speed up. As I careened down the metal tube at a speed I would call ‘Jan De Bont-ian’, I put my hand out to try and impede my progress and large sheets of skin were promptly excised from my fingers. Several of my knuckles are covered in scar tissue – they look like naked mole rats.

7. The unnamed protagonist in Tennis Lessons does actually have a name. Her name is Tennis Lessons.

No, it’s not. Of course it’s not. That would be ridiculous.

Tennis Lessons by Susannah Dickey is published by Doubleday on 16th July