To the towns of our childhood, whether we escaped them or not…
To celebrate getting this book out there, a friend bought me this:
Yes, this is what everyone needs in their life, a lapel pin of the place they escaped from, so they can carry it around eternally.
Technically, Plumstead is quite green, we always joked that because the land was cheap, there were so many empty (read: green) spaces, that, and graveyards, the area has a lot of graveyards. The blank area at the top of the badge is the common (technically, Plumstead Common and Winn’s common), at the bottom left is the back of a golf course, and, if you were to zoom out there would be East Wickham open space and Woolwich common and Woolwich cemetery (at least they didn’t put that on the badge). Although, I’ve been told the green spaces remained since no one would develop land that was going to be ripped up for a by-pass one day soon. This never happened, the open spaces remained empty other than of burnt-out cars and bored teenagers, and now it makes it ‘magical’, at least to bargain hunting hipsters.
Growing up there, I always thought it was odd that you had this little bit of suburbia encased by three roads, Swingate lane on the right, Flaxton road in the middle and Garland road on the left (where I sited Cezek’s house in the council estate there), everyone lived on the cross-streets, and all around it, hemming it in, either official green space or unofficial open space (allotments, an abandoned abattoir, and yes, another graveyard, they’re the empty bits that aren’t coloured in on the badge). When I was younger I started plotting out a horror story, something like werewolves hiding in the green/open spaces and their allies blocking the three roads into this area, trapping everyone in place so they could descend and feed. I guess town planners don’t consider escape routes in an urban fantasy situation when designing shitty suburbs. Instead, I set my coming-of-age, rags-to-riches-to rags book roughly around this area, all the main characters live in this little block of London, shaped by the psychogeography of it, with it’s five pubs, one working man’s club, three corner shops and a few takeaways. And a large abandoned tin mine (now, the common) in the middle, ignored by most and only explored by kids and dog walkers–except in my book, of course.
I think the geography of the place you grew up in stays with you, permanently, even if you do escape.
I’ve never worn the pin.