Old Haunt

The other day I made a trip to my gran and grandad’s house. Well, their former house. Earlier this year my mum and uncle got them to move house because their old one was far too big for them to look after. There was also the fact that it was starting to go into disrepair… so they moved to a new house.

Now the old house has been sold. Finally. It was on the market for ages, and after the first party interested discovered major structural damage, the only people who wanted the place were builders, keen to get it at a knockdown price so they can make a quick killing. So before it was turned over to the capitalist market, I went for a final visit.

My gran and grandad had had this house for nearly 40 years. I remember going there as a very young child, probably 4 years old, and watching Going For Gold with my gran. She was a game show buff, and it’s because of her that I acquired an unhealthy obsession for gameshows. 15-to-1 was also a favourite. I have since curtailed this side of my personality, but it still shows in my fascination with Deal or No Deal.

I have so many memories of the house, so many good ones. I would go there after school on a Thursday and hang around with my equally aged cousin, who was being looked after by my gran and grandad. He used to run rings around them, so it was interesting for me to see the differences between myself and my cousin. He was a lunatic, and I was always calm and a little boring as I watched another episode of Countdown. I can remember the food my gran used to make: small pizzas, beans and potato waffles with butter on them, and I would complain as I ate them that my mum would never put butter on my waffles. Of course, at the time, I had no idea how outrageously unhealthy it was, but it tasted good.

Then my grandad would tell me stories and give me either a Polo or an Extra Strong Mint, or two. Or ten. It was such innocent times. No computers. Just imagination. Some toy soldiers and some lego. I loved it.

So it was fascinating to go around this house as the memories came flooding back. But the memories were being shaded by – “oh, there’s some more subsidence”, “look at the damp there!” and “I don’t remember that window sloping down to the left…”.

It was quite depressing. It came home just how bad the condition of the house was. It was horrible to think of all these good memories and then to see what had become of the place that they all happened in. But it was clear that there was no choice – the house had to go. Just like everything in life, we have to move on in the end.

But many pictures were taken of me and my family in various parts of the house. My mum and uncle were crying – that was the house they’d grown up in. It’s one of those weird things in the circle of life, really. I guess it will happen to me eventually. I’ll be getting rid of my mum and dad’s house when it all becomes too much for them.

And that’s the sobering thought. This house, my home, is a real family house. You can see it everywhere in the mess, the toys, and the clothes. But in 10 years time, I guess that all of us will have flown the nest at some point. Then there is no need for a family home any more… and all it does is remain so that the memories can be preserved.

Life, eh. You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it…

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