Monday, May 24, 2010

The Things She Left Behind (continued)

I first came across this abandoned and derelict house over a year ago but on that occasion I didn't have a camera with me. I had always intended to go back and document what I saw there. Last week I finally got around to it, despite one of the fellows from work, a local man, telling me to be careful going poking around old houses 'up there'.

Them boys up there would be straight out blasting at you with a shotgun and ask no questions.

But I do love a long lane and a derelict homestead and it is even better when there is enough detritus left behind to get some idea of the person or people who lived there. The house itself was not that old. The buildings around it, many of which had been dwelling houses, were a lot older. I'd say a number of folk had lived there at a time. Over time their dwellings had become sheds or were simply left tumbledown.

She was rightly on in years when she left. But she had been active. She liked to sew, she liked to keep herself smart and she was a keen baker. She laundered the old-fashioned way with a boiler and a mangle and she did her laundry in a wash house. She cooked on a range. Her big kettle sang on the range from morning to night, always ready to boil for a pot of tea should visitors call. She admired the Royal Family and had a soft spot for the Queen Mother and she loved flowers. She liked to keep in contact with the outside world. Her house was neat and tidy. There was a place for everything and everything in its place. She hadn't much time for reading but there were a few books around, old-fashioned children's books by R.M. Ballantyne and Captain Marryat. Perhaps they had been Christmas presents for children long grown old themselves? The books were mouldering to dust when I first saw the house, and gone by my second visit.

All this I know from the things she left behind. They were the things that no one else wanted. No one wanted her shoes, her great ancient kettle, her mangle or her boiler. No one needed her 1950s patterns or her telephone. No one had any use for her baking ingredients or her musty books. No doubt her good delph and china and linens and ornaments found another home and hopefully, her personal photographs and other knick-knacks were taken and treasured by someone close to her.

I see her in my mind's eye. She would have been strong, a well-made woman but nifty with it. She would have bustled and busied and kept herself active. She would have been hospitable and kind. In early summer, twenty-three years ago, for reasons I do not know, she left her home up that long lane and she did not return.

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