Just found this draft from 2010, which I never published at the time – I think I was waiting to take photos. Funny how much we’ve changed since it was written.
It’s a strange feeling, because I knew it even though I didn’t pick that paint; I would have chosen a different front door; I wouldn’t have put down that parquet (yuk!) and the light fitting in the sitting room looks like a prop from Father Ted.
No matter how tasteful or otherwise the decor, it was clear from the outset that this was not a house, but a home.
It has always been a home, and while that’s apparent in the, eh, casually carried out DIY, the badly hung wallpaper (something that makes himself shudder, each and every time it catches his eye), the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling of the master bedroom (I quite like them), and a thousand other little things, nowhere is it more apparent than in the attic.
The attic is converted, and it’s one of my favourite things about the house. But the bit of it that continues to be attic, that undefinable space where things rustle and the cold bites in, is not insulated. So, over the weekend, the menfolk went en masse to the attic, despite only one out of a family-assembled meitheal of three being small enough to fit inside. Gloved and wrapped up against the chill, they ascended with the fibreglass.
But the essential atticness of an attic is not the rustling, or the cold, or the fact that you can sometimes hear what’s going on next door, but what’s to be found up there.
We bought our house from a family who had lived there for three generations. As far as we can figure out, they had lived there since it was built, about 100 years ago.
And the remnants of their lives that are left there, in that forgotten place whence Christmas decorations emerge once a year and where old toys go to eke out their days, have coloured in a picture of them for us originally sketched by the dodgy DIY and quirky paint jobs.
Snorkel gear, tennis rackets, and gear for about five other sports confirm our suspicion that at least one generation of boys has grown up in this house. A ‘$64,0000 question’ game confirms that somebody was a teenager here in the 1970s, making us re-evaluate the generational presumptions we’d held. A dismantled computer desk hid the saddest sight of all, a lonely teddy bear that obviously was once somebody’s best friend. By the look of her, she belonged to a girl; we hadn’t been sure if there was a girl in the house, but now we think that’s almost definitely the case.