In Search of Oldton

W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants opens with a photograph of a tree in a country graveyard.

I was born in the village he then goes on to write about (born on Sebald's birthday, as it happens), and my bedroom window overlooked the graveyard. But I don't remember that tree.

I have lots of photos of Oldton trees, but Sebald's tree is not amongst them. Perhaps it disappeared. Perhaps it has been pruned beyond recognition. Or maybe - just maybe - he wasn't quite telling us the truth about that photograph.

As I sit very still in my room, in front of my computer, I realise this digital playing with the past may not be such a harmless game.

Writers for the Future