Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On the Market

Damn, I am having to keep the place tidy. I was reminded of this when the estate agent rang at the ungodly hour of 9.30 am to schedule in another house-viewer. I have been going around dusting with old vest, feeling like one of those women from Last of the Summer Wine or Mrs. Ogmore-Pritchard, telling the cat not to breathe on the furniture. I lit a sandalwood joss stick and the place smelled as though someone had just been smoking dope. Hippy chic, makes a change from coffee and freshly-baked bread. Vacuuming is out of the question. But I have emptied wastepaper bins, cleared surfaces and stuffed things under beds. Someone came with baby in the crook of her arm. The house spoke to her, I could see by the way she looked out of one of its windows. Imagining.
“It’s lovely,” she said. I nodded glumly.
“Yes, I think so.”
“But the stairs are steep.” We went back downstairs. “The stairs are really steep.” I couldn’t disagree. It’s one of the reasons I need to move.
“You get used to them,” I said. It is sort of true. They are a pain and I am used to them, it doesn’t make them any easier.
“Why are you moving,” she asked.
“Work reasons and, you know, time for a change, children at college (don’t mention illness).
“Must feel like such a wrench after all this time.”
“Um - ”
Outside, she cocked her head and listened. Only the faint sea-roar of traffic in the distance.
“It’s quiet here,” she said. “What kind of tree is that?”
“Apple,” I said. We make apple jelly in the autumn.

Of course, she probably won’t come back because of the stairs. And this will pass.


Ms Melancholy said...

I don't know why I find this sad, but I do. I hope someone falls in love with your creaky house and her steep stairs x

Reading the Signs said...

Well ms m, I fashioned it so as to be a touch melancholy. So thanks. But the whole business is a bit funny too, I find. Sad and funny both.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff

nmj said...

Damn those stairs for making you leave this lovely home!

Ms Melancholy said...

It was the thought of leaving the apple tree that did it for me. My son and I lived in a little flat before I got married, and we had a huge horsechestnut in the communal garden. Every autumn we would collect the fallen conkers and display them around the windowsills. He would keep a small few in his pockets at all times and even take them to bed with him. That was 7 years ago. When the trees start turning now he always wonders out loud if another little boy is collecting his conkers... it makes me weep with nostalgia, even though we are both happier than ever in our little corner of Yorkshire. Your writing evokes this emotion in me, so you clearly fashion it well. x

Reading the Signs said...

nmj, it isn't just the stairs - but I keep having to remind myself of why we're doing this.

ms m, I think the horsechestnut tree will be remembering your son too; and that we live in all the places that we make a connection to, and they in us. (I hope ms pants isn't reading this).

That's so pants said...

I so sympathise. I just let people in and they can make their own minds up about whether they can live here or not. The urge to say 'what the fuck ever' is never too far from my lips.

Ms Melancholy said...

I like that thought...