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Middle class memories

Heritage Lawn was an embarrassingly lavish name for a desperately average cul-de-sac. Number 28 was the address for my nuclear family, proud owners of a newly erected home, built to the same regimented design as every other within sight. Each resident was under strict instruction not to alter the idealistic vision provided by the building company. Letterboxes, doorbells, fences; manicured gardens with bizarre outdoor lights shaped like mushrooms. Everything was identical, and not to be touched. Television ariels, symbol of the modern Elizabethan age, were hidden from view for fear they may spoil the mock Tudor aesthetic. Neighbourhood watch. Safety in numbers. Each house a status symbol for a burgeoning middle class.

Had the estate not cruelly encroached upon London’s vanishing green belt, it may have been difficult to find any sort of adventure within this utopian landscape. Yet, in and around a maze of opulently named cul-de-sacs, a few areas of wilderness remained. Freshly painted houses shyly skirted around old manor houses, whose crumbling walls protected overgrown gardens and decaying tennis courts, clues to the wealthy inhabitants who had come before. Nearby, long country lanes stretched across a patchwork of farm land.

All this begged to be explored by me, on my brilliant new blue and yellow BMX bike. Within the captivity of uniformity I now had the freedom to roam. From my bedroom window I’d spotted a short trail leading into an area of woodland: this could be my first expedition! I enthusiastically took to the path, one sheltered by tall pine trees and partly hidden under nettles eager to snatch at my legs. As I rode onwards, the sky slowly reappeared before a pristine lake was revealed. Here, an oasis of tranquillity surround by an unexpected adventure park, was waiting to be occupied – for the next few hours at least.

This was my response to a short assignment given on the creative writing course I’m undertaking. I was asked to use a clustering technique to recall a childhood memory.