My mother sought to fill my life and my brothers’ with magic and beautiful things. She would say, with her big, beaming smile, “Good night, don’t let the bed bugs bite” and “No star” (goodnight in Welsh). She still says that whenever I am home, whenever I go to sleep in my old bedroom. “No star in the skies tonight but I give you  the ones in my heart.”


As grown-ups, my brother too creates the magic for me: we still have our old-speak. I am Noggin and he is Shoe. On bad days, he will tell me, as we clutch on to our phones across the miles, “In the nest, Noggin”. Nest for us is the home of our parents, on the edge of the South Downs and New Forest, where wild ponies stream freely across the land (main photo).

This is my youngest child, sleeping in the magic my brother created:

I used to think, this is something very unusual, that happens only in one childhood in a million, that it cannot be found later in life once the opportunity has passed you by.  Like you have to learn how to see magic, before adult rhetoric takes away your sight.

But two days ago, as we said goodbye (after a row which left me rattled), my partner said at the doorstep, “Be on good terms with those who’s leaving, for they carry your last words.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said irritatedly.

“This old dog travels far but his soul is entombed in his mistress’s stony heart.”

‘Excuse me?”

“The cripple crawls but his useless legs know what he doesn’t yet.”

And then I burst out laughing and hugged him tight. He is beginning to sound like my mother.”In the nest, Tyson,” I replied.

“You gotta do better than that, Jac, I don’t want your brother’s magic. I want yours.”

The old dog is learning 🙂