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At night Beech Wood is alive with the calls of tawny owls, like woodwind players rehearsing their flutter-tonguing technique for Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Sporadically, throughout the day, a great spotted woodpecker hammers away with the determination of a labourer wielding a pneumatic drill. Meanwhile, the boisterous young rooks gargle in their nests, giving the impression of a dormitory full of schoolboys suffering from tonsillitis. Fifty years ago it’s where I used to come to collect conkers. In those days there was a children’s home nearby. Or, as I might have called it back then, with a sense of dread, a ‘naughty boys’ school’. The sort of place my dad would invoke if I didn’t st

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