She now lives in a small flat in London not far from her childhood home.  She has a sunny patio and a stone angel statue amongst the shrubberies in the garden. On her trellis hangs two solar-powered star globes that looked like mini universes. When I was lying in bed in her home, I stared at those globes nestled amongst the flowers of her hanging basket and thought, “I have raised a magical girl”.

Her life began when I was student at Manchester University: she was born in Withington Hospital, Manchester, when I was in my second year. I had cried tears of joy when she was born; she was my third child and my first daughter.  Her father and I were dirt-poor, as we tried to make our way in the world without parental help, but though we lived in a rough council estate many hundred miles from home, we managed to fill her life with magic.  For magic was to be found in playing in the backyard, furry little pets with funny names (Nitty Fritty), long walks, cosy evenings at home and bedtime stories. I cannot remember us ever shouting at her, for she needed no shouting. There was always something ethereal about her right from the start, as if she had come into our lives to bring beauty and joy.

We saved up for the dresses she loved. I would stand in the queue for hours outside Laura Ashley in Manchester waiting for the doors to open during its annual sales. We discovered a now-defunk shop in London called Amazon which sold magical dresses for little girls. Later, we drove to Paris in our old £5,000 Land Rover to buy her dresses, for she, my magical girl, was made in Paris.

A week ago, I walked past this shop in my hometown that sold magical dresses for little girls.

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Each dress has a tiny bell sewn into the hem that made soft tinkling noises as the wearer walks and dances. We bought one for Kat, and the dress was a beautiful blue dress printed with big, bold sunflowers. It was beautiful, impractical, celebratory – but she wore that dress as she ran barefoot in the park like a fairytale apparition. Because you see, magic is not about practical, wearing uniform, conforming. It is about the unexpected and sheer breath-taking beauty.

And this is the magical girl, all grown-up, a tall and strapping goddess ❤

kat backyard