Another day, another week. Life trundles on inexorably, a slow train on the tracks, destination unknown, unrelenting, on and or, perhaps, slides back into a much-loved, oft remembered previous comfort zone..
Last week was very quiet, after the festivities of the previous week it was time to slow down, and take stock once again. I have to confess that I had rather overdone it and needed to slow down.
I spent the week slowly clearing out more cupboards and drawers, slowly consigning 25 years in this house to boxes, the charity shops, and yet another skip.
I tackled the linen cupboards - laying everything out on the landing, and just sitting whilst my life was spread before me, each item telling a story, and memories of my childhood, and subsequent life unfolding before me.
Marrying the philanderer, brought an end to my previous life, the Edwardian upbringing I had enjoyed at my grandparents' house, a life of privilege, a life I have mentioned before here in A Life Reclaimed, except that it is not a Life Reclaimed now, certainly not the life I enjoyed before my ill-fated marriage.
My grandmother kept a wonderful house, Edwardian, a step back in time. I loved the house in which I was born, and not a day goes by without me thinking about little vignettes of my childhood spent there. Sitting surrounded by piles of linen, lace trimmed, monogrammed, fragile and much-loved, I remembered again how I loved my childhood in this house.
There was a linen room in this house, this childhood home of mine. Large cupboards lined the walls, bedlinen in one, table linen in another, and so on ... A large table under the window held an ancient treadle sewing machine. Once a week a woman from the villsge came to do the household mending. She turned sheets outside to the middle, and shirt collars and cuffs were turned and buttons stitched back. Lace was mended, new lace stitched to new bedlinen, table napkins and cloths were repaired, she was an essential part of the household. How times have changed.
I remembered how, on my return home at the end of every term at my boarding school, I would rush upstairs to my bedroom, my bed would have been turned down by the housekeeper, crisp linen sheets, trimmed with lace, with matching pillow cases, in summer the sash windows open, with a wonderful view of the beloved garden, in winter, a fire burning in the grate.
As I sorted out the linen last week, I wept, every piece reminding me of something in my past young life - I sorted everything into piles, the lace-trimmed pillow cases, the sheets, fragile with age, the tea cloths, I remembered how they would be used every afternoon when we had tea, again lace-trimmed, embroidered, every one evoking memories. Tea would be taken in winter, by the fire, in my grandmother's little sitting room, in summer in the garden, by the croquet lawn. How clear all these memories were to me last week.
The fire burning in the grate - every morning during the winter months, I would be woken by the laying and lighting of the fire in my bedroom, and each evening when I went to bed, I remember how I used to lie watching the shadows of the flames dancing in the dark. on the bedroom ceiling. On chilly late summer evenings, I would also look forward to the prospect of a fire to enjoy at bedtime. To this day, I fantasise about finding a house with working fireplaces in the bedrooms, the hot water bottles placed in the bed with a nightgown wrapped round it so it was warm and cosy to put on, before slipping into crisp cold sheets.
I truly think that I am slipping back in time. Nostalgia is a drug, a soporofic, oh so comforting, a shell into which one can retreat, and shut off the outside world.
6 days ago