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Growing Up in the Madhouse

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GCSE English coursework - personal memories (extract from your autobiography) By R.E.Warden Growing Up in the Madhouse Some people tell me I am eccentric. Other, less sensitive people tell me I am just plain weird. I don't deny the truth in this, but what you have to understand is that I have an excuse. You see, I spent my formative years in what I fondly call The Madhouse. Rectory Barn. It was one of a tiny cluster of houses, which cling to the top of Winderton Hill, desperately hoping not to be blown off by the next brisk wind. My parents oversaw its conversion from ramshackle barn to slightly less ramshackle house; and believe me, it showed. Rectory Barn was a hotchpotch mix of red brick and the ancient stone remnants of the barn that was there first, with a roof of slate, blue one side of the house, red the other, and a little round conservatory from B&Q stuck on the side. The kitchen was equipped with a microwave that looked as though it had come straight from the stone age; an oven that only closed when you wedged a couple of corks in the door, and the drawers had to be routinely stuck together with masking tape to stop them from collapsing in a heap of chipboard. The walls of the old barn were of crumbly yellowish stone, and hollow, so as soon as I was old enough to get in and out of ...read more.


It seemed to me that Mum spent most of her time in the kitchen or the garden, leaving them only to sleep and shop for food. When I was four, I didn't understand why she had to go to bed for weeks and weeks and have the doctor visit her. Dad explained that she had something wrong with a disc in her back. I hadn't known people had discs inside their backs. Did they look like the ones you got in computers? It was strange, not having her around, and for the first time in my life, Dad cooked all our meals and there was no Mum, pottering around humming, paperclips in her hair, off in her own little world. Rectory Barn was, as you may have guessed from its name, near the church. It was not next door to it, more a couple of minutes' walk away, nor was the church strictly a church. There had been no services there for years, and now it was host only to large numbers of pigeons, who laid their eggs on the tower steps, and at one point a group of house martins in the porch, who only stayed for a year, yet made themselves quite at home, liberally redecorating the stone floor with their droppings. The tower made a half-hearted attempt to fall down every so often, but was easily put back in line with a few strategically placed supports. ...read more.


If a car happened to arrive while Jeremy was there, he wasn't the slightest bit concerned. He would yawn pointedly, stretch himself at length, and positively saunter to the edge of the road, from where he could bestow upon the hapless driver a glare seething with pure animosity. Late one summer, the air was laden with rumours, buzzing like electricity in a thunderstorm, after the Great Fruit-napping Fiasco (as my mother called it) took place. The village, previously untouched by crime, woke up one morning only to find that all the fruit was missing from people's gardens! Someone had come in the night and stripped every last bush, tree and plant. When Mum found out, she rushed straight to the greenhouse in a panic, returning with a deeply relieved smile. "Thank goodness my tomatoes are safe!" she sighed. Many suspected the milkman, who was new and, as people muttered darkly to each other, "delivered in the middle of the ruddy night - like they do in towns!" The poor man was quite unaware of the ferment of suspicion of which he was the cause, although he must have wondered why for years afterwards old ladies kept giving him black looks and making obscure comments about strawberries. The madhouse may have been funny-looking and falling to bits. It may have been in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by cottages full of strange old people. It may have been the slaughtering-ground of innocent mice and shrubs. But it was my home. And I loved it. ...read more.

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