When I was 12, I lived in a semi-detached house in Sheffield. In my house it was always noisy. I’m from a large family, and the house was always full of people. Aloneness was a highly-saught-after rarity.
The stairs were good and broad. They performed a right-angle turn two steps from the top. It wasn’t a kite, but what we called “the little landing”. This was a big square area I used to sit in to experience the delight of aloneness. My bedroom provided no sanctuary as it was shared.
I’d head out into the garden. The garden was overgrown and full of trees, and there was one corner where I couldn’t be seen from the house. I spent hours sitting there, hugging my knees to my chest. There was a very tall poplar tree (the trees that look like upside down brooms) at the bottom of the garden. I would sit and stare at it blowing in the wind. In autumn poplar leaves fall, damp and brown, with a very distinguishable scent. Even today, I still remember that smell.