I stood alone in the lift proudly clutching my new football, freshly purchased from one of the tourist shops near the beach of Olhos de Agua on Portugal’s Algarve coast.
The lift was large and slow - providing me the perfect opportunity to practice my rudimentary ‘keepy uppies’ skills safely away from prying, judging eyes. I dropped the ball to my feet, gracefully scooped it into the air and calmly controlled it on my chest before expertly taking it onto my favoured right foot. This was good and confidence oozed through my body, until the ball dropped in such a manner that I realised I’d have to use my weaker left foot. Somewhat predictably, the ball shot off wildly towards the front of the lift- which would have been fine if the lift had doors, but it didn’t, and all I could do was watch as my brand new ball become wedged between the front of the lift and the brick wall between floors. The lift came to an abrupt halt.
Unfortunately for me, my now grotesquely mis-shaped simply would not pull free. Try as I might I just couldn’t move it an inch and panic began to take hold; not only was I stuck in a lift I was surely going to be in serious trouble with my parents - if I ever saw them again. There was no other option but to ring the emergency bell and hope for a rescue.
Some minutes later my saviours arrived and after explaining my situation at the top of my voice, including the fact the ball could not be moved, I was relieved to hear a maintenance man drop onto the top of the lift to pass a knife through the gap above. After he safely escaped the lift shaft I was able to pop my ball and allow the lift to resume its journey.
The whole experience probably lasted little more than fifteen minutes but in that time I went through the full range of emotions available to a twelve year old boy, stuck alone in a lift, fearful of his parents wrath, in 1996. As luck was have it my parents actually found the whole episode to be quite funny but, for me, some twenty six years later, the shame lives on.