As an emotional kinda guy I was expecting embracing them to be a full roller-coaster ride. But as it turned out, it was more of a nostalgic, cosy, trip down memory lane…but oh boy, what great memories they pulled back to the surface.
“What on Earth are you talking about?” I hear you cry. “Get on with it.”
Okay, okay – yesterday I revisited my childhood family home, where I lived from the age of two, in 1958, until I bought the first home of my own with Susie B in 1981.
I’m indebted to Andy Groome and his partner Kirsty for showing me round what is now the home they share with their two-year-old daughter.
It transpires Andy’s Dad would have been a couple of years below me at secondary school, and, d’you know, the name is somehow familiar!
Yes, you’ve guessed it – it was Doctor Who. Mum, Dad and I sat enthralled as we watched it in that house. That was the spark that ignited my career as a writer. I started creating my own worlds and my own characters. And those make-believe worlds became invaluable after my Dad died when I was 11. I retreated more and more into those places where I was in control of my characters’ fate – knowing that whatever happened to them during the story I would make sure they were okay in the end. My worlds were certainly better than the real one at that time.
But, everything passes, and Mum and I got on with our lives in that wonderful family home.
As Andy showed me round, I saw myself sitting at that kitchen table again in the late 1970s, outlining plots and ideas…including a short story…which would later become the basis for a couple of my novels.
Overall, it was a wonderful experience to go back to that house, which was newly-built when we moved in. It saw me through my entire childhood, teens and into my mid-twenties. It saw me through my GCE O-levels, my first steps into writing and broadcasting – I joined the BBC and became a local radio newsreader and presenter while living there – and served me well until the time came inevitably when I needed to move on.
Farewell childhood home – you’ve now undertaken to look after the little girl who’s now in that front bedroom. May you shelter her and guard her, and make her feel as comfortable and loved as I did within your walls.