Monday 25 November 2013

The Flotsam and The Jetsam - 166

There is a house – number 166 – waiting on a street in, or outside (depending on your perspective), London.

This morning it is many things; the house next door, my house, her house, your house, the one we are selling, the one I just bought, the one we just sold, another house, the house opposite, a desirable residence, a nice investment, the one I walk past on the way to the station, the one at the top of the hill when he’s cycling, the one next to the phone box that isn’t a phone box anymore because nobody uses phone boxes in London these days.

But for two people it’s my grandma’s house.

It always will be – until my sister and I are no more.

For my aunt who is 92, it is still the house she grew up in and left to live near the sea.

It’s also the house where my Grandma used to have chickens in the garden, an air raid shelter the roof of which became the coal shed, where I used to take baths in a tin one in front of the fire before she had a bathroom added upstairs with a blue whale shaped back scrubber that I would be happy to find and pay for if I saw one in a junk shop.

It’s just a house.

But it’s so much more.

Why, why do I wake thinking all these things?

Why, this morning do I want to visit so need-fully?

It makes no sense.

My dreams made no sense either.

I was wandering the streets of a communist state city, grey, monolithic and impersonal that seemed to look very much like Lewisham, where my Grandmother lived.

I saw Mr Brazier.

Mr Brazier was my swimming instructor when I was eight.

Why was I dreaming about him?

He had shrunk – maybe all the swimming.

And he was out of shape. Really out of shape – he looked malignantly bumpy and pregnant.

I hesitated to go and say hello, I was torn by a wish to disappear into the crowd and that of acknowledging the importance of someone who had formed me during my influential years.

My responsibility triumphed and I walked over and shook his hand and tried to explain – but I was disturbed by the broken sadness that exuded him.

Then I was walking alone through a part of this non-town that was under Taliban control, as a westerner I had to be alert – alert to the clothes the people were wearing as that could indicate that I had ventured into a fundamentalist neighbourhood.

I came to a large, almost empty building – a disused factory or possibly garage.

Concrete, bottled glass and a few lamps like a film set but too many cobwebs and silent space to be anything other than abandoned.

Someone had an old Douglas aircraft that they were cleaning and polishing. There was a vintage car and another wartime plane. They were all separate in the vastness, all in ancient condition but lovingly restored.

I thought I should return with my camera.

Then I woke.

I wrote this.

I HAD looked at my old swimming certificate yesterday.

And a picture of my father when he was a pilot.


Anonymous said...

My swimming instructoress was HUGE
even if she shrunk she would still bark out instructions in a HUGE VOICE
Porchester Baths Circa 1966
thats breast stroke for those that don't know
Still missing you xxxx

popps said...

Breast stroke?
Apparently the slowest world record over 100 meters of the four main strokes.
But truly i miss you too.

Mary said...

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Whether he's right or not, he truly is such an SOB.

Dreams are weird but they can be beautiful too.

Sh-Boom -- Life could be a Dream.


popps said...

Sh-Boom! I like it!

Anne Hodgson said...

Whose wig? And what for? Hopefully just showwomanship?
I'm Pavlov's dog around wigs. Too many wonderful women in my life went bald while fighting breast cancer.

popps said...

Pure showwomanship.
Wilma off to Berlin.