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Mike Reed

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It’s my Eden, weirdly. Dagenham: east end of the East End. We lived at St Thomas, Beacontree, in a grand Victorian vicarage with the church at the end of the garden. All around: low-rise flats and culs-de-sac of red-brick council homes, gathered around scraps of communal green. Pardeep’s little house smelled richly of spice. We…

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Wendy Jones

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  Election blues ­… and reds A political chasm ran through 19 Gladstone Avenue. We lived with my grandmother. A strong woman, an army cook on the Somme, supporter of the Jarrow Marchers. Now barely five feet tall – osteoporosis, I later learnt. My dad was different. A charmer, a tease. Not a drop of…

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Tony Clarke

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THE GREEN 1970. The Year of the Three-Button Vest. Tie-dyed, the epitome of hippie cool. Aged sixteen, ignorant of the ‘tie’ part of the dyeing process, I drape my pale green ‘grandad’ vest over our kitchen drain and splash dark green dye over it until the desired effect is achieved. When dry, I put it…

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Therese Kieran

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Changing Views From the hospital window the fields were hedge-stitched and farms further away were divided by dry-stone walls.  Trapped in an airless prison, this patchwork quilt brought me no comfort. Visitors breezed in, rushed away, brought chocolate eggs I sent home, fearful they would melt. There, they were stacked in the front room until…

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Suzie Inman

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THE OUIJA BOARD My goodie two-shoes gene. It makes me afraid of getting into trouble. Thus, I avoid acts that might put me there. Always have. Except once or twice as a kid. The time another Mum had to call about my behaviour? Huge. I blame the weather. We’d gone to the park: a sad…

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Sue Evans

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LIGHT BIRKS FARM, CLIVIGER A single-decker cream and maroon bus would take my mother and me to Cliviger where my grandmother lived on a hillside farm. We lived in a pub in Burnley. The bus stop was underneath a low bridge that smelled of damp. A canal ran over our heads. After our bus ride…

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Sue Burge

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DRESSING UP Squash-faced at my window I can spy on most of Mill Street – especially anyone who goes into Peter’s shop.  Dad’s been in Amsterdam with the Magpie crew.  He often gives Mick Robertson a lift to Teddington Studios after dropping me at school. I sit on Mick’s lap, singing tunelessly “one for sorrow…”…

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Stephen Barnaby

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FAMILIAR STEPS AND HALF-BAKED MEMORIES Along Lythmore Road, past ‘The Oval,’ the grass island where we played football and cricket, frequently retrieving the ball from the cow field behind. The finger-like stack of The Old Man of Hoy, unmistakable across the Pentland Firth. The cluster of streets recalling Caithness’ Norse heritage: Hakon Road, Sweyn Road,…

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Sophie Gordon

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Halloween You had to do a party piece. That was the number one rule when it came to guising. That’s what set it apart from merely trick or treating. You had to earn your sweeties. And there were plenty of sweeties to be had on our street. There would even be home-baked treats from our…

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Sandy Wilkie

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Mid-Argyll was the place my ancestors walked through, migrating from Loch Awe to Kintyre in the 18th Century. From sheep farming to surface coal-mining. The Great Moss has 5,000 years of history in the layers of peat. The River Add trickles around its edge, the Crinan Canal creates a southern boundary. The Moine Mhòr.  It’s…

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Sabine Harnau

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Drinking Like Lady My sister’s face was still red from crying. She’d been told off for sucking the raisins from her cheesecake and spitting them into the fruit salad. Now she was thirsty, and coffee was all there was on the table. The grown-ups were arguing on heavy oak dining chairs, bums on olive scuffed…

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Prince of the Lake This is the lake. This is me at the lake. I’m nine. I’m alone. There’s my fishing pole, my Sword of Loneliness! That’s my bait—the pink pastry box filled with nightcrawlers. There’s my fishing spot at the Picard’s; four weeping willows along a fine stone wall. There’s two perch, dead on…

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Rebecca Thomas

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 I can see school from home. It’s seems a few steps away, with no roads to cross. School is new. The houses are new. At home, Mum is sitting on the floor, with four big bits of paper in front of her. She’s sucking on a pencil, thinking. Looking at her pictures of four men…

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Rebecca Dowman

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Aunties Few women went to work in my 1970s street, leaving time to forge friendships –and childhood impressions: Auntie Jenny made clothes for pin money, smoked Player’s No.6 and had deep wrinkles rising like seagulls up her forehead. Still, she hinted at a more refined world than ours, calling mum Valerie not Val and crowning…

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Pip Trentham

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It was the first day of summer and Dick had his pins out – muscular, tanned and holding up an unpredictability I adored. Dick was my brother’s godfather and lived south of the border, some place called Dorset. We were drinking lemonade on the wobbly bench by the tennis court. Dick was reading my palm.…

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Nick Parker

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Not a map of Wednesbury (for dad). So Mum died suddenly, and ‘Mr Alzheimer’s’ screws with your memories: fractures them, erases bits, then re-shuffles them and deals them out again. So when you tell your tales of growing up and ‘courting’, none of us really know what’s what. But then ‘your’ Wednesbury always did seem…

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The Park Pool, Kingswinford, West Midlands King George VI Park has a grand name nobody ever uses. To us, it’s the Park Pool. My first summit of the steel climbing frame happened here; my first adventure without Mum and Dad; my first date where I got a nosebleed and ran home looking like an extra…

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Mark Noad

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Mark Noad Memory map Wandsworth 1970-75 Memoir The myth that, in those halcyon days when summers were always warm, kids roamed the streets from dawn ’til dusk popping home only for tea is true: that was my childhood. For a precious few years in the early ’70s, I had the freedom to explore, discover and…

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Lydia Thornley

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Faversham Creek, a tidal waterway on the North Kent coast, 1967. My dad, an ad man, artist and when the machine didn’t exist for the job, inventor, had a thing about industrial landscapes. Dead boats, boats out of water, masts at every angle when tide was out and mud was in. Stacks of enormous timbers,…

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Lucy Walker

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The journey down We regrouped at the top of the steep hill. Our reward for reaching the summit: the journey down. But it wouldn’t be easy. There were dinosaurs. Over the edge we went. Pedals whirling until they spun too fast for our feet. “They’re coming!!!!!!!” And, of course, it was always the biggest and…

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Lucy Beevor

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Craven Cottage, Fulham Football Ground The floodlights look like UFOs hovering thirty feet above each corner of the stadium. Men and boys and women trickle through the park. Soon they’ll swell to a river of black and white scarves so we’ll hurry home now, cross our road through fumes of exhaust and frying onions. Later,…

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Lisa Allen

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Pursuit When I was a teenager, our road led into another, the way that roads do, and the second road became a close. A cul-de-sac. A dead end. Robbie lived on the close. He was a bad boy with a lot of chat. I was naïve, prudish, with no chat at all. My head was…

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Laura McIntyre

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It feels peculiar, as if a cold, heavy boulder is in my belly. I do not understand, nor do I want to. I continue to hop periodically from one foot to the other, no longer enjoying the momentary respite of cool air, but focusing on the pulsing pain as soles burn on crazy paving. Allowing…

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Laura Clay

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Mr Singh’s Pick and Mix When I was five years old, the trip to Mr. Singh’s corner shop was the highlight of my week. I’d charge through the rain, kicking up coppery piles of leaves, cross the road by our estate, and finally I’d see the bright lights twinkling from the treasure trove hidden in…

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Kirsten Irving

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The Marshchapel Mud War Nobody knows who started the Mud War, who named it the Mud War, or at what point it became the Mud War. That is, when it escalated from a few kids down Harpham Road chucking clods at each other to a multi-day campaign between ill-delineated tribes. I’ve always steered clear of…

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Kartik Kompella

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For years, I yearned to play a cover drive. The left hand batsman in me wanted to do unfurl a ‘Gower’. The ground where I grew up playing cricket was for right handers. On the lefthanders’ offside, there were a bunch of ferocious people who uncompromisingly pursued their evening exercises. Violently pinging a cork ball…

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Julie Batty

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By the age of 11 I’d moved eight times. My sense of place is dislocated because I was. And I am often lost. By 1976 I had three coping strategies for new towns: I always tied one end of an imaginary string to my house and the other to my wrist, I found one dog-walking…

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Joanna Pearce

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I knew this would be the last time. I’d flown home to Wales across a continent to see her. But still I had to break away. A walk with the dog, where we had walked together every summer of my childhood. Through the fields. Up the lane. Past the trees where we picked green hazelnuts.…

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John Simmons

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Where are you from? A tale of two bottles Memories triggered: smell of malt vinegar, taste of fruit gums, black swirling as you stare into a glass of Guinness. Filling glass bottles at Fred Field’s the hardware shop; Fred’s shadowy presence sold vinegar from wooden barrels — better than the fish shop’s ‘non-brewed condiment’. Most…

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John Sills

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You always remember the first time you get questioned for murder. Saturday morning. Breakfast, pocket money, then a walk to buy sweets and stickers. Except this Saturday, I didn’t make it that far, thanks to a large crowd, several police cars, and reams of plastic ‘Do Not Cross’ tape. That evening, a policeman popped round.…

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Joan Lennon

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Draw a map of where you’re from … from memory. My memory of where I’m from is a pounding thing, a rhythm of two beats. Flat. Flat. And … you don’t belong. We’d moved here and I was stuck here until I was grown − stuck here forever. I didn’t belong and I couldn’t escape.…

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Jill Hopper

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A taste of freedom Louise Wright lost her sight aged eight. Her only option for taking ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels was to attend an RNIB-run boarding school, housed in a former stately home, where the dormitories were named after famous ships: Kon-Tiki, Beagle, Discovery. She loved the oak staircase, full of warm echoes, but feared…

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Jessica Swales

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Rowaways I untied the boat and set the oars in the rowlocks, ducking to avoid a tangle of weeping willow as I pushed off. Plaintive meows rasped from able seaman Sooty in the cat basket, which was precariously perched on the bow bench. I tried to ignore them, but regrets had crept in about bringing…

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Jane Berney

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It was the word that wasn’t allowed. Specially not in class. The rude word. But I’d said it. It had fallen out of my mouth like a gob stopper, possessed. Now Simon was barging over to Miss Pringle’s desk. To tell. My life was over. Now! Edith’s between Simon and our teacher. Pretend to have…

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Irene Lofthouse

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Memory Age 10. In the woods, lying in the sun after being brave running past the ‘suicide tree’ on the Jockey Path, stuffed with wild raspberries, hearing gruntings from the piggery. Hidden but with a good view of paths and woods. Voices. Male and female, hove into sight coming from the Fagley pub. Mum and…

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Hester Thomas

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Signs There’s a farm on two sides of the rec’. A sign says: Keep Out. Alison, Lorraine and I climb over the fence and step into the field. Black and white cows lazily munch their way through the long grass, their tails like old ropes flicking against the flies. We pick daisies, make long chains…

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Helen Jones

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August 1972. Wales We are on the run. Hiding from dad and his drinking. It’s a big house on a cliff edge. I don’t know who owns it, or how mum can afford it, but we’ve been here for weeks and it feels safe. The beach below is crowded with day trippers. I run down…

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Hare Boudicca kept a hare in the folds of her skirts. The direction it ran when released revealed the will of the gods in battle. It was said to scream ‘like a woman’ as it ran, terrifying her oppressors. The hare at South Greenhoe Middle School was a place to climb and survey my oppressors.…

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Hazel Hayes

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THE KOOKIE DOLL The idea for the life-sized doll came from the TV in the caravan, not Blue Peter, Magpie I guess. She used Mum’s tights, stuffing them with scrunched up newspaper that laddered the tights making varicosed limbs, the type visible through 20 denier. My kind-hearted little sister anticipated the gratitude of the farmer’s…

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Gita Raleigh

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A solitary child, I always had my ‘head in a book’. Books were more real to me than people or places–perhaps why my landscape of childhood memories remains indistinct. Images emerge, dream-like, from a grey-green backdrop: a red rose for the Harvest display, a white balloon yo-yo’d home from a party. But I do remember…

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Francesca Baker

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St Julian’s, Malta Siesta time. A Mediterranean summer happily hums outside my window, melodies of clinking glasses and local laughter. Bright blue skies melt slick pavements. Impatient car horns want to move in. The pillows feel cool on my head and the sheets crisp on my limbs. Stone walls calm the room as sun beats…

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Emma Keens

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The song of the plum fairy The wild end of the garden is a sanctuary, far from the boiled Sunday veggies and simmering resentment. It’s chilly here, where the rhubarb grows and wasps feast on rotting fruit. A wall of firs keeps the light out and the secrets in. The bark is slippery but my…

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David Cooper

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‘Beneath suburban skies’: A Cartographic Apology In our primary school, the name ‘Strawberry Fields’ always meant one thing: the kids from the Sally Army home, up on Beaconsfield Road, who suddenly turned up one morning, stuck around for a few weeks, then disappeared again. It’s now a quarter of a century since I left that…

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Claire Squires

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Duerley Beck, Hawes, North Yorkshire Summer of ‘76. Sizzling hot, for day after long hot day. Our waterpark, the beck, calls to us. We rush over the path with embedded glass bottle bottoms; down the stone steps cantilevering out of the wall. I eye the wilting watercress with suspicion, remembering the talk of liver fluke,…

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32 Polsue Way I wanted anyone reading my memory map to enter into my five-year old mind, hence the use of crayons (my favourite) and lots of pritt stick on my map. I found the creative journey to be fairly emotional. My Grandfather passed away a few years ago, so it was a case of…

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Beverley Moore

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Memory by Anthea Moore Written down by Beverley Moore Pink knickers in the dining room I was 10 when I was sent to Pengwern College. 1944. I remember three things about the dining room there. There was the delicious macaroni cheese, made with processed cheese the Americans sent over. Then there was the awful sago…

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Ashley Hoyland

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The video rental pet shop. The bell rings as you walk in. It’s the smell that hits you first; the musty, slightly acrid aroma of pet food, treats and bedding mingled with an overpowering air freshener used to mask the first smell. It sticks to the back of your throat. “Hello love! Did you enjoy…

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Andy Hayes

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Follow the leader We met in the park, Curly, O’Reilly, Lester and me. I was the oldest, the leader, I’d lived here 11 years, my entire life. I found a place we could slip through the fence. The pipe ran from the top of a steep bank forming a tubular bridge to the opposite side.…

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Amna Boheim

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As I did my memory map a zoetrope of souvenirs from the past flickered by. Animated contradictions. On the one hand, I felt pretty normal. I was never made to feel different. I played netball, hockey and tennis. I spoke English all the time – even to my parents. And yet, I was made to feel…

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Amanda Edmiston

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I happened first in a fish-scented, silver city. On a good day it glistened: a rainbow slick of oil on a mermaid’s tail, every shard of mica shone. Mood altering on a whim, iron-hued granite radiating foreboding. I remember walking hand in hand with my mum, peeking at washing lines and gardens through pale-blue, wrought…

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Aidan Baker

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THE WALL AND THE STABLE DRIVE AND THE LANE AND THE NEXT VILLAGE I learned biking late, and later still heard how aged six, not understanding brakes, I’d crashed against a wall. Eleven years, while that unlearn eluded memory, cycling balance eluded me too, made bicycles a phobia. But – “Rode Hugh’s moped” is in…

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