I have strong memories of mucking about in the grate of the new house we moved into in 1972. The grate – where water from the kitchen would collect – was a constant source of fascination. Staring at the ripples of water would induce a trance-like state. Airfix soldiers would drown, and my brightly coloured, too-light all-purpose play-ball would inevitably find its way there.
Recently, some kind of time-bubble opened up and I found myself repeatedly sketching the bricks of the kitchen wall by memory, or doodling from old photographs of myself in my favoured interzone, the patch between the coal bunker, the backdoor and the grate. How soothing Accrington’s red brick is, able to withstand the warm, benevolent Lancastrian gloaming, damp and accumulated industrial filth, able to stand out alongside the blackened, blasted sandstone.