Happy childhood memories – and an old mix-tape

My young son gallops around the old family house and garden just as I did – but he’s still to learn where all the pitfalls are

Back in Derry to see my dad, and my old house still has that familiarly unfamiliar feeling of time passed and preserved. This year will mark the point at which I’ve lived away longer than I ever lived there, and yet I have a sense memory of this house, and the surrounding fields and paths, that feels eternally baked-in. When my son pitches headfirst through its rooms, or gallops over its garden fences, I steady and swerve his body to avoid pratfalls and outcrops on which I’ve grazed myself a thousand times. If these walls could speak they’d probably say, ‘Mind yourself, bloody hell!’

I can trace a chronology of split foreheads, carpet burns and sprained toes all the way from my old bedroom into the hall at the front, where my brother Conall and I played indoor football.

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