Park Lodge, Binfield in the county of Berkshire.
Even before I fell into that cauldron of indelible love for Wokingham, I lived here in Binfield.
Dad had just taken up a post with Imperial Chemical Industries as a Research Microbiologist – they recruited him straight after his PhD at Rutgers – and a handful of ICI families lived here, in Park Lodge.
It was heavenly. I was about 7 years old, and my little brother about 5. The Anderson family occupied that low-roofed extension jutting towards us in the photo, plus a sliver of the 2-storey abutting it. Grant and I slept in the room to the right of the chimney on the upper floor.
The stairs were wooden and tight, the floors wooden and squeaky, the ceilings plaster and, one night,entirely fallen to the floor.
The kitchen and bathroom were on a level below the visible ground level. These rooms smelled of mildew and ancient plumbing, and there was almost always a huge spider in the bathtub. I can smell the bathroom now: damp and iron rust and English chill.
There was an orchard of apple and pear trees in our garden, a stand of pampas grass, and a woodland lot at the bottom. This was a child’s fairy land.
And when the little birds of village and field pecked the foil tops of the milkbottles left on the doorstep in the morning they left a cream-rimmed hole which was sometimes also frosted with ice.
Further into the two-storey wing lived Serena Wise and her family. And at the top of a broad staircase – smelling of white gloss enamel paint – lived the McKenna family,fresh from Scotland, whose apartment overlooked the huge pines behind the lodge.
And here I am today, rambling like the ageing woman I am. But I am deeply happy, you see.
That forgotten dog I have now upon a leash, I will be stepping out into the relatively unknown in less than a week, and I feel the core divinity living and leaping within this meatsack of a body all the time. I feel …almost…as if I am completing a circle.