I grew up to the sound of needles click clacking through my childhood like nanna’s loose teeth. My mother’s fast fingers manipulated wool, turning it from a wayward ball into scratchy sweaters far from the cosy swaddle of soft baby blankets.
She fashioned me a swimsuit in blush pink which the North Sea sucked at while I paddled and splashed and squealed. I emerged almost bare initially unaware that the wool, heavy with brine, sagged around my skinny knees.
Tears laddered my face like dropped stitches. Sniggering kids in their 10 bob nylon suits pointed, while mum tiptoed across the sticks and stones of Brighton Beach to shield me in betowelled arms.
My protests never stopped her knitting lace garters for my wedding day, blankets for nuptial nights, and bonnets for new babies.
Now here I am, alone, in silence, sifting through a box full of sixties models smiling from the dog-eared patterns of memories.
When she came we painted her eyes with shadows. We pinched her cheeks until they ripened, and slicked on a clown smile with a bright honeyed stick.
We wove black ribbons through her grey red hair, and sharpened her nails with the roughest emery. We draped feathers around that withering neck and told her she looked like a film star from the forties.
She endured our ministrations with tight lipped patience. Too gracious to grumble, too refined to complain. Afterwards she’d nibble biscuits and sip sweet tea through the cockles of her clown mouth. Then, wiping crumbs away, would say ‘Now children, go and play.’
How do you weigh a house? The bricks and mortar, tiles and chimneys? No doubt those guards are weighty. Surely include the landscaped garden, its drooping flowers, and heavy seed heads? The shrubs, the herbs in pots? The ponds? The lolly stick crosses of long missed pets?
The contents are substantial. Soft sofas and chairs Imprinted with cosy evenings, tables laden with feasts, wardrobes full of outdated fashion, beds crumpled with comfortable passion.
Oh, and the books. The shelves, and shelves, of books.
How do you weigh a house, where thoughts expanded, where children left their giggles in corners, where the halls still echo with the stamps and slamming doors of angry love? Where images of daily living in the living room never fade?
A house where you can still find pine needles In the carpets of Christmas pasts, and there are still stars on the ceiling, stuck there on a little girl’s whim. Where hugs and waves and tears tarnished the front door after you said ‘I’ll be back soon’.
How do you weigh a house that is at once so empty and yet so full?
Still struggling with time management here, not least because I spend half of it procrastinating, but hey ho. It’s made much worse this week because we are having a new kitchen fitted very soon. In fact they are coming to gut the current one on Friday, so I’ve had to start emptying it out and packing up.
I find it quite incredible how much kitchen related stuff we have accumulated over the years. Like everyone else, we have umpteen used-just-the-once gadgets tucked at the back of cupboards – a potato peeler, a spiralizer, a waffle maker… you know the sort of thing, the sort that seemed a good idea at the time. I’ve also got bowls and pots my mother gave me when she was clearing out, and which I can’t believe I have some sort of sentimental feelings over – for goodness sake, they’re just stuff! But I did find a glass dishy type thing (I have no idea what to call it) which was used to display cucumber slices at Sunday tea-time when I was a kid. Gosh it did bring back some memories!
Our Sunday teas were sit down at the table affairs, and most weeks would consist of sea food and salad. Dad would have picked up the sea food from the stall outside the pub when he went for his Sunday lunchtime beer(s). There were always prawns, winkles, cockles and sometimes fresh scampi, which I have never seen since those days. The salads were different then too. Not the mixed up colourful affairs of today, oh nooo. The cucumber had its own dish, the celery would be standing sentry like in a vase, the lettuce would be in one bowl, the tomatoes in another, and we’d pile our plates with the individual bits and pieces, and no, of course there was no fancy dressings just a splosh of salad cream if we were feeling fancy.
While we were eating ‘Sing Something Simple’ would be on the radio (I should point out this was the year of the Beatles White Album which my sister and I would have much preferred to have been listening to (actually I lie, I would have preferred to be listening to the Monkees :/))Of course, when I recalled that I just had to look it up on youtube (what can’t you find on youtube??) So now you can grab yourself a boring salad, find a pin to winkle out your winkles (if you don’t know what I mean I expect you can find that on youtube too) settle down, relax, and join me listening to some old tunes from 1968! There’s no meaningless chatting, no ads, no callers, just a bit of harmonising… quite soothing in the current mad climate! Enjoy 🙂
Yes, I’m in a music mood today. Although not sure this entirely counts as music. They were talking about this record on the radio this morning and I hadn’t heard it for absolutely ages. So I gave it a listen on youtube and found it to be still completely relevant. Ok, I’m not in the class of ’97 but most of this advice is spot-on.
Actually, we have an unexpected scorcher of a day here today, so it’s even more apt! Have a listen and you’ll see… oh, and always wear sunscreen… Have a lovely day x 🙂