September 19th – I remember when love was nothing more than a handful of sticky conkers. Come to think of it, it hasn’t changed much… It’s programmed into the DNA of every bloke in the UK not to pass a horse chestnut on the ground without picking it up. In Brownhills as a child, the only conker tree worth a light was by the bus stop at the bottom of the parade; come this time of year the poor thing was battered half to death. Little did we know that a couple of miles away in the lanes of Stonnall and Shenstone, the shiny nuts were so plentiful that they were lying thick on the ground. The Brownhills tree has since been lost to disease, but I always wondered if it recognised the kids torturing it. ‘I remember your dad. He was a lousy shot with a stick, too…’

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