I have a gate in my garden. It is a conversation piece, for it is stuck in the middle of the lawn and leads nowhere.
It is useful at night, for the gateposts hold two lights which illuminate that part of the garden if I have visitors or wish to sit outside on a warm summer’s evening. But during the day it just looks misplaced.
For a while, I considered removing it – but then where would I put my garden lights? So, mainly through indecision, I left it where it is.
Most of my friends who are visiting for the first time ask why it’s there. And I have to reply “I don’t know.” For it was there when I bought the house. It’s not unattractive, and it must have a story, but it is not telling …
However, recently I had some small visitors – between two and seven years old and I suddenly understood this gate is a magical place. It is the gateway to a new world. A different world.
Kick a ball through it and you are Ronaldo kicking the winning goal in the World Cup final.
Ride your bike through it and you are Chris Froome, testing your speed and your skill.
Walk through it wearing a pink dress and a tiara, holding a wand and you are entering a fairy kingdom where all sorts of things are possible.
You can swing on the gate (although this is discouraged); you can shut out small brothers or sisters, or welcome them into the world of your imagination. You can teach them how to open it, which way it swings, and how to fasten it closed.
You can chase each other round and round between the posts until you fall over, giddy and breathless from running and giggling.
You can peer through the closed gate like a bear at a zoo.
The options are endless – limited only by your imagination.
Yes, I have a gate in my garden that leads nowhere.
Or does it …?