I can’t remember when I was first introduced to this curious little ritual. It must have been when I was about six and actually knew what day, date and month it was, but I don’t remember when someone first decided to mock-assault me just because it was the first day of the month.
I do know that it was a little ritual that immediately attracted me. In fact, once my brother and sisters were old enough to understand it, too, we had to bring in a rule that you could only do it before midday, otherwise a slightly competitive way of acknowledging the start of a new month rapidly became four kids knocking seven bells out of one another!
It did get me into trouble once, though not serious trouble. It happened during my first year at school in Scotland. For some reason, we didn’t have our usual class teacher, Mrs Pettigrew, that day, but a different teacher who used to come in and look after us on occasion. I cannot remember her name now, but she was tall and thin (or so she seemed, everyone looks tall when you are six) and old (but everyone looks old when you are six). Moreover, she was distinctly unamused when I decided to ‘pinch, punch’ her.
As I said, I didn’t really get into that much trouble, but her verbal riposte left me in no doubt that this was not the sort of thing that one should do to one’s teacher and an activity best confined to one’s friends and family. I now wish I had been smart enough to recognise this as carte blanche to pinch and punch my friends, at least so long as it was the first day of the month.