Our gang used to go off to North Dean Wood frequently – perhaps at times the big house parents suggested we should stay away from the gardens for a while. Sometimes we would drift along playing ‘truth-or-dare’ or talking about things too grown-up for me to understand, and I would always find time to shovel up handfuls of gravel, or road pebbles or an insect, as we moved along past the farm to the fence at the edge of the wood which was on a steep hillside. There were caves and other hollow places, encouraging the imagination into terror of ghosts, fierce tramps, wild animals and I know not what, all helped along by the many tales that were told about ‘Dead Man’s Cave’. Although I liked the trees very much (providers of acorns!) and the stony pathways, I was always uneasy in the wood, and still don’t like to be enclosed by banks or trees. At other times the boys would rush off to the wood leaving me to follow if I could and find them if I managed to get there: I can feel the awful lonely panicky panting fear still.
Maurice on our doorstep