Under the stairs

One of the beginnings was with being brought back to the new house where the old one had been, and on that day being drawn by a billowy lady in the drawing room, and being made to look even younger than 8.

One of the beginnings was at the old house, an abbey where the people said the German sultan of Brunei couldn’t have it. ‘If we pull it down, then maybe he will move on.’ There were fleets of staff waiting on floaty people who never really ate but wandered gothically in corridors which stretched out for streaming beams of sun.

Another beginning was moving into the new house with other people, and as much as a school. There were morning assemblies with Hymn books facing the planet Saturn. There were guest speakers, a few sightings of men in camouflage, and the occasion cook’s name happened to be Emma. When guests came to stay, children moved out of their bedrooms and into each other’s bunk beds, though only temporarily.

Where had we been while the house was being built? A big house, a castle, a godparent, the stable block, Liverpool, Wales, a few nearby farms and a caravan plot. There had been as much living out of a suitcase as the fun of wearing other emperors clothes.

After the school got shut down, there were private birthday parties, possibly in order to recruit a replacement sibling, and after a few trial cases one of them aged ten decided to stay on. She was put in charge of the family dishonour, by arranging for the other sibling to be technically available but unmarriageable or able to check out.

Secondary school in St Andrews was directly linked to a Margaret Atwood book where boys and men were more than occasionally admitted through the basement at boot locker level.

From the ages of 9-21 there was peculiar bed bunk work to be done on The Flying Scotsman.

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