My daughter is now seven. I have been trying to remember what being seven was like for me. Memories start to become more frequent around this time. Some major changes were going on for me around then, moving house, moving school, parents divorcing. Until recently I would have said I could clearly remember when and in what order these big events in my childhood happened. But when I tried to write these down, it seems my hard drive is more fragmented than I had realised.

So I started to recreate my picture of seven on a piece of paper, and in conversation with family, started to fill in the gaps. This is what I’ve managed to piece together.

School years are useful bookends for the shelves of childhood memory. On my seventh birthday I was in the last term of ‘6+’ with my teacher Mrs Harvey. I think that entire year was spent doing times tables and dictation – I have no other classroom memories other than these. In September I went into ‘Form 1’ with Mrs Claire. This was a long dingy classroom with tables arranged in rows. The best-performing children got to sit at the back, the weaker students at the front. I mainly languished in the front end of the class. I distinctly remember handing in unfinished work so I could go out to to play sooner.

I had a new friend, Kamil, and I loved his handwriting. He wrote his sevens with a crossbar, like in France, and his capitals had flourishes the like of which I had never seen. I remember undertaking a full handwriting re-brand. Kamil also had a pencil case that had buttons on it; press one and a sharpener might appear, or a secret drawer would pop out. My wooden desk with its fold up lid felt like my little sanctuary in the classroom. Inside I lined up my stationery in neat rows and imagined it was a control centre for some Bond villain’s lair.

By this age I had been playing the piano for four years and cello three, but did virtually no practice on either. I remember one fretful evening before a lesson when my parents kept me up late to do my practice and they both sat in the room and drilled me on what a dotted rhythm was. I just couldn’t get it and there were tears. I got my own back by playing ‘African Safari’ over and over on the piano, which drove my dad nuts.

In October I had a sleepover at my best friend Paul’s house. Overnight the wind had kept us awake. We woke in the morning to find tall trees from the neighbouring field lying criss-crossed over our garden and brushing up again our house. My climbing frame buckled under the trunk of a tree. It was the famous October hurricane. The fallen trees and pits created by the unearthed roots made for a fantastic adventure playground. The next day it was gloriously sunny, and I was a page boy at my aunt and uncle’s wedding.

Not long after, we moved house. I faked a tumble and a bash to the head in order to get sent home from school and watch the removers packing up our belongings into a Luton van. What a strange memory moving house was. Our old house, my only house until then, was entirely normal. This new house was someone else’s; everything was a bit strange. I had my own room. The toilet had a lock on the door. There was a waste disposal unit in the kitchen sink.

The new house was a long way from my school. We had to take two buses and the Tube to get home. This felt really long. This whole period feels dark. I distinctly remember being told about the fire at Kings Cross station. I was having a bath at the time. My recently-married aunt had been on a train travelling through the station, but it didn’t stop.

In January my big cousin Giles came to stay with us for a week while he did his work experience, sitting alongside my Dad playing violin in the LSO at the Barbican. During his stay we build an epic lego building – I called it an everything building. It spanned two road plates, it contained secret rotating walls, control rooms, a petrol station, and it rose high, at least four or five storeys. Maybe it was our Barbican? I kept it and adapted it for several years. While we were working together he taught me limericks and added to my portfolio of swear words.

There are few specific memories of my parents at home, at least in the first year at that new house. My brother and I were looked after by a live-in au pair, who took us to and from school and looked after us in the evenings.

During the Easter holidays my dad took me every day to the pool to learn to swim. I don’t remember much about the swimming, but I do remember him showing me to put one sock on, and then a shoe straight away to keep it dry, rather than putting both socks on first. We also always had a packet of crisps after. That habit has stayed with me. At the end of a week I had learnt to swim, and as a reward I got the new Lego monorail. I’m still astonished at what a big present this was.

I remember for the second week of the holidays being suddenly packed off to France to stay with my grandparents. My brother and I didn’t have passports, so we had to go to a post office in central London to get something called a ‘British Visitor’s Passport’. We flew ‘unaccompanied minor’ to Bordeaux. This was a huge adventure. We were chaperoned every step of the way. My brother spilled orange juice all over his lap. It rained most of that Easter week in France. My grandmother’s cousin gave me an amazing illustrated book of sewers, which I still have.

My last memory of seven was the day before my eighth birthday. I was going to be given a BMX, and I was allowed to ride it the day before so I could learn and then be able to ride it on my actual birthday. My mum and dad pushed me round the garden until I could ride alone.