I continue to be haunted by memories of my boyhood. Images come unbidden, as they say, and I don't know why. Hadley was an ordinary village, not much happened there, and I can't remember feeling sorry when I eventually left it to go up to university at the age of eighteen. Not just images of place - the High Street, the lane past Benbow's Farm, the wilderness of the old pit workings - but people too. Mr Potter, the butcher, fat and redfaced, like a character from Happy Families: Mrs Beecham, who was best known for the smell of the suppurating ulcers on her legs; Mrs Quinn, whose haberdashery was definitely out of bounds to a scruffy street urchin like me; Rowley. pronounced "roll-ee" and if he had another name I never heard it, whose sole occupation seemed to be loitering in the village newsagent's pining over the girl who served in there, a little ferret of a girl with shiny black eyes and tiny tomato breasts. Still, it was love as far as Rowley was concerned, even if he was three times her age.
Now I admit I am not painting the sort of travelogue picture that will cause you to jump into your car and go roaring off to Shropshire, but that was not my intention. Actually, if you do decide to roar, go visit Shrewsbury or the Severn Gorge at Ironbridge or the Long Mynd, but give Hadley a miss. Most of it has gone anyway, destroyed to make way for a bypass to get you quicker from the great wen of Birmingham to the soulless carbuncle of Telford.
I'd like to say in its defence that Hadley formed my character, but then I don't want to blame an obscure little Shropshire village for the villainy that was my childhood. And adolescence. And a good chunk of my adult life, now I come to think of it.