Fucking hell, it's that pair of sisters and their ill-disciplined dogs. Hide the cake and don't make eye contact. Does the short one ever stop bloody sobbing?
This is the house where we spent our happy childhood. I recently came across this photo of it in a book, dressed up to welcome home a son from the Boer War. The huge iron gates, melted down in World War Two and never replaced, are almost hidden under swags of ivy, and the stout stove-piped pride shines from those frozen Victorian faces.
We left it in 1977 and have been trying to find a way home ever since. It reads 'Welcome Home' and after almost four decades, I thought we should go.
Last week, I stole The Pretty One away from her life and shot away to the Lake District for some undiluted nostalgia. We ate a lot of cake in slate-y grey landscapes, shot through with blazing copper beech and relentless drizzle.
A family have lived in that house for thirty years. We met their daughter. She recognised our names from the message we had written in the secret cupboard our dad discovered when re-wiring the attics.
She showed us the a long curved stone with the house's name carved on it and we told her the Northern Socialist had chiseled it in the legendary hot summer of 1976, measuring the letters and tapping carefully for hours. It is still painted, bandbox black-and-white, every five years. That bit made us cry uncontrollably. I hope we didn't frighten her too much.
I felt my heart break that she had lived a life I still dreamed of. The Pretty One, always less
That night, we saw this fabulous production, which echoed our lost lives of make-believe, of wardrobes as camps, beds as ships and sheets as castles. It was surreal seeing this beloved story, in the dramatic scenery which inspired it, in a bittersweet haze of nostalgia.
We started the seven hour drive home before it was light. I felt wrung out and aching with longing to stay, to creep back into my attic room and stay forever among the dust and memories. But by Birmingham, coffee, the need to let the dogs pee and the Pogues had brought us back into the moment.
I've been determinedly living here ever since. There's no choice. Sometimes that's what you need.