It was the dodgier side of the town, the place where most of her school friends came from. It was a new town grafted onto the existing neighbourhoods; rows of cosy railwaymen’s cottages, distant hamlets and clusters of farming communities were now joined into one by concrete, council houses and roundabouts.
The uniformity of each of the new neighbourhoods was both depressing and reassuring; an L-shaped shopping parade consisting of a fish and chip shop, a newsagents, green grocers, mini-supermarket, launderette, hairdresser’s, off-license and ironmonger’s were always present. On top of these shopping parades, there would be a floor of flats accessed by a railed walkway which ran along the front above the shops’ names. Sometimes, you could see washing lines outside the front doors, coloured towels blowing in windy corridor, an otherwise still and grey environment. Around the back of the parade there were public toilets, the urinals visible through the open door; they always stank of pine disinfectant and the paper would fold, not crumple in your fist and scratch your bottom, never absorbing a thing.
Within view there would be an infant’s school and lastly, there would be a community centre. At her own, she went to NTC, dressed as a sailor wearing a scratchy skirt marching on Sundays to the tune of Yellowbird and Never on a Sunday. At this one, she was drinking her first cider under the auspices of a barn dance. Fourteen-year-olds are not generally known for their interest in barn dancing but they quite like the illicit cider. The bubbles went up her nose and she felt giddy. As she ran out through the heavy swing doors to the toilet for the tenth time, she didn’t even notice the pain of her collar bone cracking. But she certainly did the next day.