APRIL 1986: My niece is born on the same day as my aunt who went missing during the war. My brother takes his daughter of a few hours and lays her on a pillow next to our dying grandmother. She turns her head with great effort and kisses the child on the cheek and whispers: "I had a daughter once too."

MAY 1986: I look out of the window and see my father mowing the grass. He is cutting down the beautiful meadow with the daisies and the glowing yellow dandelions. Chernobyl.

JUNE 1986: Sunday, 2.53 PM there's a ring at the door and my brother is standing there. He is sixteen years older than me. This is how I find out I am not an only child. From now on I have to live with the fact that I have been lied to. I investigate and discover a total of eight half brothers and sisters by six different women who were in relationships with my father. I decide I am going to find and get to know all my siblings no matter how long it takes.

JUNE 1986: I go back home to Basel across the Lorraine Bridge, having just graduated from high school and think confidently: I can do anything, the whole world is waiting for me.

AUGUST 1986: It is 4 PM. A friend rings up and tells me she has just seen on the list that I have made it through the first round for drama school. I want to run straight to the school and read the list myself. But this morning I have already smoked three packets of filterless cigarettes. A journey which would normally take me fifteen minutes takes me thirty and I think it would be pretty stupid to go and die right now.

OCTOBER 1986: For unexplained reasons I lose all the hair on my body, including my head. I have to go to hospital and undergo many tests and treatments. However, I am healthy and despite not having any hair to this day I have a wonderful life.

DECEMBER 1986: I watch an early evening documentary on TV showing how Scott was found frozen in the Antarctic. The sight of the dead body shocks me so much I can't sleep properly for weeks afterwards, only with the light on and the door open.