JANUARY 1997: One Sunday morning Ursula asks me if I want to marry her. I feel a joy I never thought possible.

MARCH 1997: I'm paddling alone in the shallow end of the swimming pool. Then my one year-old little sister comes along, grabs a big uninflated rubber ring and gets into the water where it is deep. When I shout, a friend of my parents jumps into the water and fishes her out again before anything horrible happens.

APRIL 1997: I am sitting next to my dead father. The artificial respirator has just been turned off. He is seventy-three years old. I let the rucksack of lies, alcohol and all the other things slip from my shoulders. I am relieved and free at last.

APRIL 1997: On a trip to Newcastle, I kiss a girl for the first time: Helen.

JUNE 1997: I make life-long friends and meet Petra: This is the summer of my life.

JUNE 1997: Coming out to my mother on the phone.

JUNE 1997: Our film project fails spectacularly in Berlin. I'm going to leave art alone from now on.

JULY 1997: After a year I am back for the summer in my Mum's village and run to the bedroom where my uncle sits. I am frightened to go into the room and put on a smile when I first see my uncle, who is gravely ill with cancer.

AUGUST 1997: I have a fantastic camping holiday on the Atlantic coast with Ma, Pa and my two brothers.

SEPTEMBER 1997: On a school trip to a country hostel: We sit outside late at night and I explain the stars in the sky. For the first time I am really taken seriously by the whole class. After that my relationship with my classmates changes completely.

OCTOBER 1997: I am awarded a place at the Max Reinhardt Seminar. Everyone else is pleased. I cry because I didn't really want to go to Vienna.

OCTOBER 1997: My first boyfriend forces me to have sex for the first time. He will continue to do this for the duration of our relationship.

NOVEMBER 1997: I know I'm going to meet him. I think there is a bet on, who is going to pull the first groupie in Berlin. There isn't. The encounter takes me to Switzerland.

NOVEMBER 1997: I spend a year on an exchange in the USA while my family breaks up. My father and brother move out before I return.

DECEMBER 1997: I obtain a grant funding my salary for three years and allowing me to return to my home country.