Saturday, 24 March 2018

I miss my pad and the places I've known

'Daydream transports the dreamer outside the immediate world to a world that bears the mark of infinity.' 
― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

It's nearly two years now since I helped to organise what was probably the first ever archaeological dig of a postwar council estate. The most magical thing about this event for me personally was that it enabled me to be back on Middlefield for a duration of time (some four days all told, the longest length of time I've spent there since I moved away some 30-odd years ago). Towards the end of the final day of the dig, I felt myself slipping into the deeper time and space of the estate. There was one moment when I found myself walking over to one of the test pits, down a path that I always used to follow as I headed home from town, from school, from work, or at some strange time in the early hours of the morning after a night out. As I walked along that path and reached the point where the roofline of my old house and the window of my bedroom began to appear above the other houses in front of me, I suddenly thought of myself as a teenager c.1977, coming home from wherever on a similar, sunny Spring Saturday afternoon, and I thought that maybe my Mum was there cooking tea, that my Dad had just got in from the allotment, and that my bedroom was still there with its window open to the sunshine. And for a split second I was there again. The precise feeling is virtually indescribable. There was no wobble in space; the path and the houses around me didn't somehow shift back to their 1970s state. It was all in my head, but somehow I became me as I was back then. My home was there, my parents were there still, alive and with me once more. And then it passed. For that moment, it all seemed too easy - after all, how many times would I have walked down that path during my lifetime on the estate, expectant of getting home? How easy therefore to recall what was once an everyday state of being, my life on the estate as that teenager (although it could have just as easily been me as a nine year old walking home from school, or from the shops).