As far as my cousins and I are concerned, the old tarzy in our Aunts' garden has been there forever and a day – since you and I were young, Maggie, and we used to race home after school to claim the lion's share of the prize; it was theoretically possible, once the old tyre had been added, for two, or even three, to ride it simultaneously, but in those days we lacked that sense of common purpose which allows pleasures to be shared, and if any of us was possessed of that Achilles' heel which was an inability to resist the hostile/covetous stares of three, four or five girls of about the same age, size and strength, she knew better that to reveal it, for we pounced on any weakness in our struggle for the title of Top Cat, awarded once a year on Midsummer, when Auntie May produced a tray of sandwiches, pastries, cheeses and biscuits, to be followed by Auntie Cristo's Strawberry cake with fresh double cream, all washed down with Babycham; the giveaway is the bit pronounced Sham! but we didn't care, believing ourselves from the age of 7 to be sophisticated young Ladies, rather than jist gurrrrls, as the boys in class or street, said it; and though we now may be older, wiser and even settled into a job – or career – there must still be a bit in us of that recidivism that hankers after the security of those golden summer days when we we could pick and chose who, from one end of High Cross Avenue to the other, was permitted to come in and play with us: it may be simply that we were learning how to bestow or withhold favours and so establishing ourselves as Very Important People in that part of Melrose – or as Auntie Cristo said it: "Very Impertinent Bairns!" but as I was idly swinging on it this afternoon – being self-employed has it's benefits – I mused about the security we all have here – obviously myself, Isa and Milly, because we all actually live in the house, but also our other cousins, Elvira, the twins Roxie and Trixie. Ginger, Gertie, Jerry and Nikki, Sammy, Jinty and Pru, Jasmine and Rosie, of whom there are usually at least two most weekends and when it's a proper Holiday Weekend, the majority of them will be around and about, in and out at different times; of course, familiarity bestowing on us three Residents, that contempt which differentiates us from the Visitors, so we also tend to give them first dibs on the swing - something which, as children, would never have entered our childish heads, for we had all learned about the Survival of the Fittest in the great battles we enjoyed during the long summer holidays: High Cross, Darnick, Priors' Walk, Newstead and Dingleton were the five territorial gangs of boys and girls who roamed over, clashed on, battled for, won or lost, the three hills which hunch over our town: "Wir Toon!" – and most days' play would end in a race from the Trig Point on Mid Hill, to our Aunties' house, where all-comers were welcome to pancakes and jam and home-made lemonade – with that sourness that draws in your lips and cheeks; and everyone got a turn on the swing; so I think it represents all that was good about those years and provides the substance that still binds us all together – but now, if I am alone, I will usually be reading a book, with a cigarette and a glass of Laphraoigh close to hand, but the sense of security and belonging is rooted deep in my own heart's core.