Breightmet - named for a bright meadow - is growing a green space where once my old school stood. St Osmund's RC Primary, Long Lane, Bolton. Thicketed by hedges high as a fairytale forest, it hides a broken patch of tarmac stamped by decades of hopscotch and skipping games. Through tangled foliage I glimpse myself at six years old, freckled and foreign, only two days off the boat.
Unable to enter the kingdom today, I trail around its boundary. Rusted railings are welded with lichen. The buildings have all vanished. Where the Big Children's playground should be, buttercups and thistles higher than me rustle. A meadow bright with a half century of children's voices. Running riot through timetables, school bells and orderly queues. Briared with secrets we left behind.
The railings take me along to the Top Playground; the grassy hill we used as slide, the Tree that was my Witch's Den, the Boys Football Pitch, all lost to overgrowth. You can't see where two lions strolled in once among the children, causing an early evacuation from Morning Break. (These beasts - escaped from who-knows-where - still amble occasionally through my dreams.)
Today on a rare visit to childhood territory, I am happy to realise I never truly left it. Let the greening of St Osmund's continue.