Liz Jones grew up in the Vale of Evesham in the 1980s (where inhabitants worship an anthropomorphic asparagus spear named Simon de Montfort). She raised herself on a diet of Usbourne Puzzle Adventure books and gothic tales of time-travelling children. Her first crush was on Treguard, the guard-cum-presenter of Knightmare and she often wears a cross-shoulder brown leather bag and pretends that it’s a knapsack from that wonderful show. She owes her entire academic career to Granny’s Garden, and fantasised as a child that one day she would be rich (and deranged) enough to own a log flume that ended in a vat of acid a la Patrick Burston’s Funfair of Evil. She very much hoped that Through the Dragon’s Eye was real and still has recurring dreams that she is asked to appear on the Crystal Maze. The greatest cultural influences on her childhood came courtesy of her Uncle John-Paul, who introduced her to The Avengers, Space 1999, zombie movies and the best Hammer Horror ever made – The Black Carrion. He also taught her judo moves. Her plumber father, very much a local man, encouraged her to dig stuff up and still, over Sunday lunch at Nan’s, regales her with tales of local mischievousness and country old boys. Her mother encouraged her to leave the Vale as soon as she could. Her Grandma taught her how to make peg bags and coat hanger covers, and how to cheat at cards; her Aunty Jenny, how to blow massive gum bubbles. She spent the early 1990s being dressed by other people’s mothers and pretending to fancy Gary Pallister in a make-believe Manchester United game of her best friend’s creation. As a teenager, she believed that she would become a British Dana Scully, living in London with crazy, shagging, barrister housemates. She cared little for Friends and the girls at school who quoted Phoebe on their tin pencil cases. Her sartorial breakthrough came courtesy of a friend of her cousin, who gave her stash of old Topshop clothes in a bin bag, and she still remembers the double-take her classmates made when she arrived in the playground for a visit to the Peugeot Talbot car factory. Trauma came in the loss of all four of her goldfish during a freak water change, and the development of an unrequited crush on a boy who would later become one of her best friends and who would document those years of Dawson’s Creek-esque angst, awkwardness and poissonicide, in a book submitted for his undergraduate degree finals. Her happiest memories are of playing on other people’s game consoles, hanging over the edge of a low-rise car park with her school friends in Weston-super-Mare watching boys go by, and playing rounders in the annual Offenham Wake tournament (although not the game in which Dave Sharp got smashed in the face by a stray bat). The 2000s were a time for propagating relationships with men who would think nothing of sending her 10’000 word character assassinations (in triplicate). She moved to London, and then to Liverpool for a short while, before returning to the capital via a sojourn in Evesham to teach her Dad how supermarkets work. She passed her driving test, set-up a ping pong night, lived the ‘high life’ as a jet-setting archaeologist and found gainful employment in the HE sector. She has two sisters and the Universe got it right when it made her the eldest. Here are some (mainly) true tales of all that has gone by.