Thursday, March 08, 2007


The winds of change

My family seem to be moving en masse these days. My sister is currently in China, and is returning to the UK next week after some months of teaching / travelling. My Mum is selling her house. And we are selling my Grandpa's house. So tonight was an odd one, as I trawled through the loft at the family home, emptying it of the various detritus that has accumulated there since we moved in twenty years ago. Although, as I discovered whilst up there, putting in the effort for the next inhabitants was more than the previous occupants did for us. I found bits and bobs with pre-decimalisation prices on them, and a suspiciously large amount of straw that suggested to me that our loft may have been used as a petting zoo at one point...

It was strange to see so many of my old toys and games. Old school exercise books, kids books that I read, old magazines... I saw a great preview for the 1990 World Cup up there. All of it has fleeting sentimental value, but absolutely none of it has any financial value, so the choice was either to invest in storage space at one of these new "self-storage" warehouses that have sprung up for people unable to throw anything away ever, or cast aside the sentimentality, set my face to "stony" and chuck the whole lot in the bag for the charity shop. Which is essentially what we did. So nip down to Oxfam in Prestwich Village next week and you may well end up playing with one of my old toys!

But the sad part of the evening was a trip to my Grandpa's house. A more ghostly place I could scarcely imagine. The whole house just echoes with decades of memories, all gone now. And it really does echo, because where once there was furniture, there's just empty rooms. It's worse for my Mum, who was raised there (and, as I pointed out, to the subsequent embarrassment of us both, was conceived there in all likelihood. "Just in that room there Mum...Look!").

All I can think of when I'm there is Grandpa tottering down the stairs, or sat in his chair. Not so much all the times I stayed over, or played in the garden, or was there for family parties or meals. They come afterwards, when I've been there for a while. The first thoughts I have are recent ones - him taking an age to get to the front door, or sitting with nothing but vacant eyes and a worried frown.

But time hurries on, and even that has gone forever now. My grandparents lived there once, but it's all in the past. Hopefully in the future, the recent memories of him as old and her as gone will be replaced, and when I see the house again, with someone else living in it, I can remember how it was when I was young.

But before that, there's trips to the tip, and lugging wardrobes between houses. Now THAT'S something to look forward to!


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