But first, Frances insisted on exploring the immediate vicinity. A quick walk before dinner. It was where I grew up, she said. She was curious. I was not. But then, maybe I was. A little.
The landscape in Dagenham had no contours, except for the occasional tarmac hillock to accommodate London Transport on its bold thrust eastwards. Yet, even with its flatness, Dagenham didn’t have a big sky like Aldeburgh. It narrowed at the edges of one’s horizon, cowering in one corner and skulking in the other. And so it was with Castle Green, the vast playing fields located a few blocks from my old home. Frances and I went for a walk there, following the path I took years ago with Rex, our family dog. We headed diagonally across an empty expanse, past a muddy soccer field and the sagging narrowness of an unkempt cricket pitch. Past the brick sports building that was always locked and always reeked of pee because the local soccer players could never get to the inside toilet. Past the wooden notice board with pasted-over information of long-gone events. Nothing new to announce. Nothing I did not know about.