(back before I realised how bloody difficult actually being a Pokémon Master would be)
My primary school had a system of rewards in place for their students. There were the usual merit stickers and smiling nods of approval from teachers, but there were greater prizes at stake for kids at my school. There was a hall of fame.
This hall of fame was called the Tigger Book, after the Winnie the Pooh character; our awesome headteacher liked Tigger, and so bought a large, Tigger-branded book to write down the names of students from any year that did anything particularly exceptional; this process was known as being ‘tiggered’.
I was first tiggered in year five, at the age of ten, for my performance as Ares in our year’s assembly. Each year we studied one historical period – Romans in year three, Tudors in year four, Greeks in year five, World Wars in year six – and had to produce an assembly on that subject to perform to the rest of the school. And while ours was structurally generic, with each student playing one of the major gods or heroes, and giving a speech about their life, it allowed pretentious actor-y types to really get into it. Apparently, I was one of those people, and gave a performance I vividly remember closely resembling Gerard Butler’s playing of Leonidas in the film 300; considering my assembly came a year before the film was released, I can say Butler totally ripped me off.
My second tiggering came on one of those weird days you had in primary school where some local nutjobs would come in and lead a series of unusually specific and curriculum-ignoring workshops, usually about climate change or snails or something. But this was one about recycling things into toys, an attempt to engage children with the importance of recycling, backgrounded against stories of kids in Africa who have to make their own toys out of garbage. We were given thin bits of metal, and told to twist them into shapes to play with; I was given a piece of metal twisted into the shape of a pair of glasses, and coiled coloured bits of metal around the frames, so everything would be seen through a layer of rainbowed lines. I called them Rainbow-Specs, and was promptly tiggered.
But there was a greater prize than even tiggering. The Big Book. This literal monolith was four feet tall, and contained in it the names, pictures, and descriptions of every kid to have been tiggered three times in the year. This ultimate prize was introduced right at the end of the year, so I scrambled to get a third tiggering before August rolled around, and be immortalised in a slightly larger book than the one I was already immortalised in.
And I tried so hard! I redoubled my efforts in lessons, hoping for a tiggering for putting in a lot of work over a long period; then I tried one-off episodes of heroic ten-year-old effort, rewriting the opening chapter of a kids’ science book to show how bloody committed I was to learning and writing about insects.
But I failed. My extra work got a ‘well done’, and my rewritten chapter was repaid with a merest merit. I failed to be tiggered a third time, and failed to settle amongst the leaves of the Big Book. I was shaken by the whole experience; I wasn’t tiggered once in the whole of year six.
And that, along with not getting A*s in GCSE French and Geography, is honestly my biggest regret in life.