Biro on Paper


Our garden was behind a 1930’s semi-detached house. It was mostly grass (though not really deserving of the term "lawn") surrounded by concrete paving. The grass sloped gently upwards from the back of the house. When my mom and dad moved there in 1938, dad had planted five poplar trees close together in a row at the top. He didn't realise how tall they would grow. By the time I was playing in the garden in the late '50's and early '60's they were a hundred feet tall. If they had ever blown over (and I often worried about this because they swayed frighteningly in the wind), they would have demolished our roof, and probably more than one of our neighbour's roofs besides. One edge of the garden was banked up and held in place with two-foot-square concrete slabs. Behind every one were ants nests with an amazing complex of tunnels in the clay-heavy soil. Risking crushing our feet, me and my friends would pull a slab away to watch the ants at work. Sometimes in the summer we camped out on the grass in an old white canvas tent with wooden poles. By morning it was always full of ants.