Fixes

9 Sep

Am visiting my dad right now. He’s recently bought a 1920s house as a ‘fixer-upper’. Already the Sleeping Beauty-type blackberry bushes and cow parsley have been hacked down in the garden, replaced by lawn. The analgypta, custard-yellow with nicotine, has been stripped from the walls. The trees with roots sneaking under the house have been culled.

It needs all this stuff done, of course. Holes in the ceiling cannot be tolerated. Rickety ‘conservatories’ have to come down.

But it seems sad to me. I liked the tangled garden. I like the way the wooden stairs have a strip of red paint up the centre of the steps. I like the funny ugly doors which stick, with their brass fingerplates. I am currently typing in what was the ‘sewing room’, an odd little space with a curved ceiling and tacked down 1980s carpet – which used to have an old-fashioned treadle SINGER in it (where did THAT go?!). I like to think about who lived here, whether ran about and children slammed the doors, or what kind of car was parked in the tiny garage with white wooden doors.

The ‘garden room’ is the saddest. I think the old man who used to live here (before he died, and his elderly wife sat in the same chair all day and smoked – you could tell by the ceiling) was obsessed with his garden, before it got too much for him. Now the room – a glass lean-to with a tiled floor- is just a jumble of terracotta pots and overgrown vines. I wonder whether he used to be precise about the way it was kept, or whether he liked the encroaching jungle.

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