Tag: Cat

You can’t easily revisit houses from your past

This is a weird thought I had last week while driving from Wellesbourne in Warwickshire to Cheltenham. On this drive, I passed the exit to Worcester. I wanted to stop. But I couldn’t. I had to carry on. I always feel a pang of nostalgia when I pass Worcester as it was the home of all of my grandparents and for many years a place I used to visit either for the day on a Sunday about once a fortnight or sometimes for a week during the school holiday. As a child, it felt like my second home. As a family, we were often whizzing down the motorway between Stafford and Worcester and back again.

The M5

The M5

Then, things changed, as they do. Times passed. And it got to the point when I had no reason to visit Worcester again. I think I have been there twice since it used to be a second home to me. Last week I passed it by with no reason to stop.

My weird thought came shortly after passing the junction for Worcester: how unfair it is that I can’t just drive into Worcester and visit the houses that my grandparents’ lived in (either side) and ask to look around. All I have is my memories of those two houses. I can’t go back. We can’t revisit houses we once lived in or spent time in as a relative. At least, not easily and without suspicion from the current owners. To me, that is so unfair. We are free to go almost anywhere in the country, but not into other people’s houses.

I often dream about my grandparents’ houses. My mum’s parents lived in a lovely 1920s bungalow which was elevated up from the road on a road of similar houses. My memories of that house are very vivid. I remember the smell, the furniture, the colours of the walls, the carpets. I remember the games I used to play in my head whilst there. I remember reading the Reader’s Digest, playing in the garden, stroking the random cat that used to visit (the cat that didn’t have a tail), playing in the bath with the bits of soup they refused to throw away and washing conkers in the bath. But I can’t go back and revisit those rooms and relive those memories and remember more.

Thanks to the Internet I've found a photograph of my maternal grandparent's house

Thanks to the Internet I’ve found a photograph of my maternal grandparent’s house

My memories of the house of my dad’s parents are also very vivid: again, the smell, the colours, the furnishings. I remember the donkey at the bottom of the garden, the cold meats and fruit cake for Sunday tea, the boxes of smarties Uncle David used to give us, the apples stored the front room, the old cars in the garage and the snapping of the coal fire. But I can’t revisit the house and remember those things afresh.

I think this is the house next door to my parental grandparent's house

I think this is the house next door to my parental grandparent’s house

Equally, I can’t revisit the houses I have lived with as a child or an adult: in Stafford, Exeter, Japan, Oxford and Charlbury. I wish I could. I dream of those houses too. They now belong to other people.

We lived in the left-hand cottage

We lived in the left-hand cottage – behind the tree

If I were the Prime Minister, I’d make it law that you have to let previous occupants (or their relatives) visit your house on request (perhaps at a time mutually convenient to both parties).  Would you vote for me?

But it’s only a car

Just before half term, at the most inconvenient time possible, our main family car died. We were due to go away to Wales for a week and needed the car to get ourselves and all our stuff there. It went for it’s annual MOT four days before we were due to leave, and it didn’t come back. It was gently put to sleep by the nice people at the garage. I didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye. If I had had the chance, I would have taken lots of photos of the interior and exterior. All I have, is two car magazine-esque photos taken by my unsentimental husband. I do, of course, have the memories.

It had had a good, long life. It was 12 years’ old. It had served us very well. It was just slightly older than my oldest son but it came to live with us when he was about 18 months’ old. We have grown up as a family together. It saw two more babies being born. It drove two more babies home from the hospital. It has been vomited on, pooed in and bashed and battered by 10 years of family life. It has lived in Charlbury and Shrewsbury. It has driven from Charlbury to Banbury hundreds of times. It has made its way to Borth a fair few times. It knew how to drive to Sainsbury’s with its eyes closed. I cried when it didn’t come home. I grieved. I’m not being melodramatic. I felt that pang of pain when bereft of the chance to say goodbye to a loved one.

This boy was 18 months old when he first rode in The Tank

This boy was 18 months old when he first rode in The Tank

At first, after we purchased it, I didn’t like the car. It was big. I named it ‘The Tank’. I actually avoided driving it. It was too big for me. I was scared of it. Then I scratched it. Then I scratched it again. And again. It was just too damn big. I still feared it. However, after about six years of ownership and perhaps sixteen more scratches, I reached a point when it was so scratched that my fear of it subsided and I didn’t feel anxious at the thought of driving it any more. Then I drove it all the time. I warmed to it. I came to love it. I still called it ‘The Tank’ but I eventually came to love it in a weird love-hate way. It became ‘mummy’s’ car rather than ‘daddy’s’ car. Last year we bought a new, second, smaller car yet I still preferred to drive The Tank. It took me four months to pluck up the courage to drive that (and only then because ‘The Tank’ died and I needed a car to get to Wales).

The first car magazine picture of The Tank

The first car magazine picture of The Tank

The point of this weird thought is: why did I grieve for a piece of metal? Why did I feel a similar pain for the car as I had felt for our old cat, Liquorice, when she was taken from us quite suddenly.

Dear old Liquorice

Dear old Liquorice

The difference with these two scenarios is that I got the chance to say goodbye to Liquorice. I also have lots and lots of photos of her. And she was a living thing with a personality. Whereas, a car?

What Car? would love this picture.

What Car? would love this picture.

My argument here is that the car did in fact have a personality. How can that be so when it is made of metal? It wasn’t (it even hurts to write about it in the past tense) living. But to me it almost was. It was definitely male. It was stubborn. It was big and clumsy. Yet it was very caring. It looked after me and my babies. It protected us and took us to where we needed to go whenever we needed it. Even though I didn’t want to feel affection for it, it persisted and waited until I was ready to love it back. It didn’t give up on me. So for that persistence, I grieve. I feel guilty that I didn’t love it for such a long time. I ignored it. It deserved better. I wish I could go back and say sorry.

I am feeling better now than I did two weeks’ ago when the car didn’t return. However, this experience just adds to my belief that we can love things as much as we love living beings. Of course I didn’t love the car as much as I did Liquorice but the feeling of loss, albeit less intense, is the same.

Rest in peace, ‘The Tank’.

A Vectra

The best way to get to Sainsbury’s

 

I can’t just ‘watch’ a film, even a really good one

…that is, unless I’m strapped down in a chair and / or in complete darkness and / or in a place where it is socially unacceptable to move around and make noise.

I'm quiet in this place

I’m quiet in this place

Is that normal?

Last night I was watching a really good film at home (The Great Gatsby) yet I struggled to sit and watch it. I spent the first 90 minutes of the film talking about the film, fiddling with a random piece of Lego, browsing through various books on the shelf behind me, posting on Facebook, checking Facebook, commenting on Facebook, stroking a random cat or fiddling with my hair.

The Lego I was fiddling with

The Lego I was fiddling with

Why is that? What is wrong with me?

The irresistible bookshelf

The irresistible bookshelf

So when I was on the toilet later in the middle of the night, I wondered whether there were other people similarly affected by this condition and whether if more than one of them lives together whether they actually get to watch anything.

The cat I was stroking rather than focusing on the film

The cat I was stroking rather than focusing on the film

Ironically, however, during the last 15 minutes of the film I fell asleep (even though it was very good) so I must have put the Lego down at some point before then.

Love in the 1920s

Love in the 1920s

I don’t think I will be watching Lord of the Rings anytime soon.