Always home


I don’t remember my parents first house, we left just after my 3rd birthday and the photos jog no memories.

My parents second house is where I grew up.

It’s where I learned to ride a bike following on from my childhood friend Stuart who took just one big push down his parents driveaway to get going.

It’s where I used to play in the back garden, building obstacle courses to run around with a football (although I mostly ended up killing the plants bordering the grass), practicing pitch and putt with old golf clubs, and on one occasion smashing an upstairs window with great precision with a … an old chair leg perhaps? All I recall is a shaped piece of wood painted white, hurtling from my grasp in a slow-motion arc before disappearing through the centre of a pain of glass.

That window was also where I spent many hours sitting not doing homework. Evening after evening I’d gaze out and watch the cars approaching the nearby roundabout, proudly recognising the models from the shape of their headlights.

It was in that same bedroom where I inquisitively thrust two fingers down on the two live contacts of my bedroom lamp after I’d taken the bulb out (that hurt). The same bedroom where we used to half unfold the sofa bed, pile cushions and beanbags over it and ‘commando die/dive’ over into it. The same activity that ended up with my little sister spraining her wrist.

I can recall the pattern of the Anaglypta that covered the walls, tilt your head one way to see the surly man, tilt another for the abstracted giraffe. The squeak of the floorboard outside the door in the hallway. The meander of distant headlamps across the ceiling at night.

From the brown celtic rug in the front room to the mysteries of the understair cupboard. From the times I could be found late in the evening, sitting quietly on the top stair and tracing my fingers round the curves of the iron bannisters as the ‘adults’ laughed and roared downstairs.

The Habitat wallpaper in the kitchen. The dark paisley patterned carpet in the hallway that rose up the staircase to the second floor. The lengths and curves of the twin tracks down which I’d race my toy cars; down one flight to the half-landing, will they make the curve! Then down the second flight, faster and faster and faster before rocketing the length of the hall, free of the track at last. The twin thumps at the end of the race, small chips in paintwork at the foot of the front door.

I remember the gardens, front and back, and how they’ve slowly changed over the years. Breaking up the old concrete base of the long gone garage with a sledgehammer, realising then I was stronger than my father for the first time. Cutting the grass, watering the plants, ramming the back gate with my front tyre at the right angle to ping open the catch on my way home from piano lessons.

Standing outside the old wooden back door in bare feet. Locked out in the snow whilst the dog gleefully frolicked. Peeing behind the garden shed because there just wasn’t enough time to make it to the ‘half-landing’.

All the occasions; birthday, christening, Christmas, barbeques, Halloweens, Hogmanays, visitors to be entertained. The pets; my beloved dog, the tortoise, goldfish, and hamsters.

Leaping on to the front wall on the way out. Sitting on it in the wee small hours on the way home from a nightclub. Walking to and from the station to meet Gran. The same walk, more or less, to primary school and then secondary, or round the corner to my Aunt Anne.

So many tiny memories that mean nothing to anyone else. Moments of a day remembered for no reason. Recurring patterns repeated only for the occupants. Such are the memories of a family home. A place of happiness, pain, love.

Soon my parents will move to their third house together. I am supportive but melancholy. Their third home will not be mine though, my memories won’t allow it.