You can see below my disappointing showing in the Miss Joneses Inter-Generational Extreme Colouring Championship 2008. The winner is the Miss Jones who colours in their side of the page fastest. Felt tips are permitted, as are crayons and pencils. Beyond this? There are no rules. Which is different to the rules being made up as we go along, which is what normally happens when the Young Miss Joneses compete.
In the first-round tie, I drew Young Miss Jones The Younger (5, nearly 6, 'very very good at writing my name joined up'). I took the right-hand side, she the left. As you can see, to employ the lexicon of football commentary, I was caught napping.
I was distracted, I believe, by the similarities between this fictional, two-dimensional house and the real one I lived in when I first moved to London, and became intent on reproducing the colour of the original's door and window frames. Idiot! This is not the mindset of a champion. Needless to say, Young Miss Jones The Younger's focus was absolute, her determination unflinching.
Miss Jones 0. The Young Miss Joneses 1.
In a break with convention, the Loser Stayed On, and Young Miss Jones The Older (or is it The Elder? I genuinely don't know. In any case, she's 8, and will demonstrate her ability to do the splits at any occasion) stepped up to choose her weapons. I changed sides and it was On.
It was a much tighter contest, as you can see from YMJTO's frantic scribble towards victory. Despite a solid showing, what you can basically see from my side is how ludicrously therapeutic I find colouring in is, to such a bewitching degree that competition and urgency melt away, like an unwilling cross-country runner finding a shady park or a cool stream on a hot day. Seriously, is it OK to buy yourself a colouring book when you're very nearly 35?
Anyway, it was a rout, a drubbing, a spanking. And despite their tender years, the Young Miss Joneses were clearly embarrassed by the whitewash and tossed me a consolatory 'Hmm, you've done it very neatly' (which I had. I mean look how lovely my snakes are) but I could hear the knocking hollowness of their words. The under 9s have little truck with the shackles of lines and edges in their pursuit of glory.