My mum recently moved house. She and my step-father decided that the house they lived in was too big and moved to a smaller flat a short distance from where they were.
It’s the right decision. Since my sister and I moved out, quite a few years ago now, the old place had seemed a bit big for two, particularly as they approach retirement.
However, that’s not to say the news hasn’t had an impact on me and my family, and will continue to do so. Naturally, the kids are excited – they like the new place and the room where they will spend future sleepovers. They seem happy enough, though they have insisted on there still being a DVD player available for their use.
I’ve no doubt that the kids will miss their grandparents’ large garden during the summer months but given that we live in Scotland, summer can be as short as a handful of days.
The other big difference for our little ones is the amount of noise they will, or more to the point won’t, generate. Staying in a flat with downstairs neighbours means our lot won’t be able run, jump and shout the way they do at home or as they do at their grandparents’ previous abode – that may prove to be something of a change for our three boys in particular.
I must admit that for me too, it will be a strange feeling visiting a different address to see my mum. We moved into the old place just over twenty years ago. I was in my early teens and although relocating meant that I was further away from my school and some of my friends, the promise of a decent sized bedroom of my own won me over.
In recent years, that room was used as extra accommodation when someone was staying over. However, every time I walked through the door it brought back loads of memories: the football themed room I first stayed in, the time I damaged the ceiling practicing my golf swing (don’t ask) and the many hours I spent in there where I was supposedly studying, but actually seemed to spend more time staring at the TV or changing over the CD in the hi-fi.
There were also some times that I don’t remember so well: staggering into the room and falling asleep still fully clothed as a result of one beer too many (late teens and early 20’s of course) and the numerous occasions where I pulled the covers over my head because it was time to get up for school, university or work.
Wandering through the rest of the house conjures up images every bit as vivid. My late father passed away a few years after we moved in – he spent his last few months in a bed set up in the living room, so that he wouldn’t feel isolated in an upstairs bedroom. Out in the large back garden, my sister had a specially built ‘house’ for her pet rabbits. I also spent many mornings at the kitchen table, listening to the radio and being so tired that my face could have ended up in my cereal bowl at any minute.
I eventually moved out to a flat of my own when I was in my mid-20’s. By then I had been promoted at work and was finally in a position to buy a place of my own. A few weeks before I went to my own place, I got together with my now wife and I was very quickly thinking about settling down.
Of course it’s not just the house itself that provokes strong emotions – it’s everything in it. My mum is not what I would call a hoarder, but over the years she has accumulated all sorts of things owned by my sister and me. Most of these items were kept in her loft but with space in the new flat at a premium we either have to take or dump it.
I have to admit, I was a little hesitant about looking through possessions which were bound to bring the past so vividly back to the present. After all, we were back talking about a handful of cardboard boxes which contained my childhood. However, it turned out to be an enjoyable couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.
My first computer was always going to be kept. I mentioned in a previous post about my Commodore 16 and it’s still in great condition, 28 years after it was purchased. There’s a few games and a couple of joysticks (remember them) with it. I’m going to set it up, even for only an hour or two, to see how the kids think it compares to the Wii and their tablets.
I’ve also brought home my old football tops. There are some 1980s classics in there, including a Spain home top with a large red collar and the Brazil jersey from the ’82 World Cup. I’m hoping the boys will take more notice of these as they become more interested in football.
MM has already had a look at some of my jotters from my early years of primary school. She particularly likes reading my ‘news’ page and the continual references to football. She’s less impressed by my attempts at drawing.
There are also some books I won for school performance or behaviour and a copy of the Tin Man by Ted Hughes – I won that at my local library during the summer of 1985, for reasons that nobody can remember.
I have hung onto some other things from school, including my tie. There are also some photos, including a school football team picture from when I was around 10 or 11. It’s hilarious looking at how many people had ‘spiked’ hair. It’s also obvious that some kids’ didn’t have enough gel on, their spikes coming together to form a small mound on top of their heads.
There were some other toys and books that weren’t worth saving, and some other stuff has gone to local charities. I binned quite a few school reports – I can’t imagine anyone (myself included) will want to look back in future years at bland sheets of paper detailing how I was progressing at learning the different swimming strokes, particularly the individual grading for arms, leg-kick etc.
As fun it has been to bring all of these items over to my own home, they won’t all be on permanent display, with much of it being stored in our loft. I wonder when the time will come for us to do something similar with our kids and the pictures, toys and other bits of theirs that we have kept. It’s quite a few years away, but no doubt the time will fly by.
It’s funny to think that possessions which are such a big part of their lives at the moment will eventually be no more than a distant, but happy, memory.