Whether through tending allotments in Felling and Accrington, throwing up improvised saps at Gallipoli, Antwerp and the Ypres salient, or mining East Lancashire (by way of Altham Pit), my family has had long experience of digging. I used to dream of giant horses cavorting, huge limbs and half torsos writhing in the mud under our house; maybe the spirits of buried pit ponies, returned in giant form to remind me of this subterranean heritage.
When my parents moved from the bungalow on Moss Hall Road to a semi detached (with a back garden and a backs) on Whalley Road I grasped the opportunity to dig trench systems in the overgrown, toad-infested No Man’s Land of our backs. I would wage war with spirits seen in the Larousse Dictionary of Mythology (introduction by Robert Graves). My brother went further, seeing the garden as a form of Stalag, tunnelling under the trellis to escape into the Eden of the front garden.
My past is my playground.