BRIAN had just height and strength to wrench himself on to the parapet of New Bridge and see the free-wheeling bare spokes of the headstocks riding the empty air like upside-down bicycle wheels. Leaning on his elbows and booting a rhythm on the wall, he saw the semaphore arm of a signal rise upwards, and settled himself in the hot sun to wait for a train.
When he was on an errand to his grandma Merton's, the couple of grandiose miles out from the last houses of Nottingham became an expedition. Across his route lay streams and lanes and stiles, and to the left stretched a green-banked railway line, rightwards an acre of allotment gardens whose shabby huts and stunted trees were often raided by roving kids from Radford--among them, he knew for a fact, Bert Doddoe and his elder brothers. Brian remembered, in the awesome silence before the advent of a train, how the whole family had descended on his house during the bitter blue snow of last winter. Ada, Doddoe her husband, and their four kids had done a bunk from Chesterfield with their bits of furniture