London Essays: LONDON’S EMPTY CHILDHOODS


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From an early age I had the freedom to go exploring. Along with my brothers and friends, I would play well-organised games of ‘hide and seek’, ‘forty-forty’ or ‘capture the flag’ over large areas of woodland. I was good at it, too. While some of my friends would hide behind a log wearing bright clothing, I would camouflage myself with soil and old branches and position myself in the one place hardly anyone looks, on a branch high up in the trees. I would imagine myself as a lynx, a shadow in the woodland’s canopy, quietly watching as people passed below without noticing me. In the heat and excitement of the games, I used these quiet moments to tune into the wild around me. I might watch a woodlouse navigate an archipelago of moss, a woodpecker feeding its young, a family of deer observing my friends trying to find me.

We should not see childhood just as a period of time; we should see it as a place

At the age of 10, we made the most incredible camps. Once, taking advantage of a fallen tree…

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