A house story

And now I am here again, at my kitchen table, thinking about back-to-school nights and bringing in the washing, instead of there, thinking about the ends of things. It was an intense weekend-and-a-bit, but with a lot of help from a lot of great people I accomplished almost all I had hoped to.

It was very … elemental, maybe, is the word I want. Very much about life, the hard parts of it that are the most real. I met a friend who was coming from her father’s funeral, buying balloons for her son’s fifth birthday party. I gave small children things from my aged parents’ house, sent them back to their homes with the last of my childhood books, dominoes, pretty boxes, and my spare recorder (sorry).

But there was a story I wanted to tell. On Saturday afternoon, someone helping me put things in boxes pulled a string in the kitchen and it broke. It was fine, it didn’t matter. They noticed the string was attached to a little bell that rang when you pulled it. They wondered why. I explained.

My father’s office was downstairs in the basement, ever since the recession in 1987 or so caused him and his partner to downsize and move to working out of their respective homes. There was a phone down there, and a phone upstairs in the hall beside the kitchen, so if the phone rang during business hours my dad would answer it down there, professional-like. If it happened that the call was actually for my mother, rather than have to open his office door and shout loud enough to be heard through the door to the basement, or come all the way upstairs, he rigged up a little bell with a string that went straight down through the floor, so that he could ring the bell from right where he was to let her know it was for her. (Or for me, maybe, even.) No undignified yelling required.

It is a perfect example of how our house worked, and how the things in the house were exactly tailored to suit its inhabitants. A little thing, that nobody seeing that bell would know, once I’m not there to tell the story any more: not the person who shows the house to prospective buyers, not the one who looks at the house wondering how they will mould it to their needs, not the one who rips it off the kitchen wall after the house has been sold.

So now I’ve told the story, and the reason for the bell will always be here, not lost after all.

Table covered in vases and jugs

Right at the beginning of the ending

10 thoughts on “A house story

    1. Maud Post author

      Really, it was easier than I thought it might be. Maybe it will hit me later, but I think I’ve been working up to it for a long time. But thank you.

  1. Office Mum

    That’s a lovely story! I wish we’d made it over to you. E wanted to go after our trip to town (I think she was intrigued by seeing the house where Lilac grew up!) but I knew there were people waiting in our house with a surprise birthday cake for her, so I had to say no. I hope you got everything done.

    1. Christine

      Aw, thank you for the thought, and we did get an enormous amount done, so it was fine. If it’s any consolation to E, the house I grew up in is actually not at all Lilac’s house. And I hope she had a lovely surprise birthday.

  2. Lisa

    This is such a great story. I would love to know such stories about former owners and inhabitants of my home. How they made it theirs, how they rigged it to fit their needs, what little quirks I don’t see or amendments I don’t know about. The stories of lives lived.

    1. Maud Post author

      I’m glad you liked it. Chances are high that whoever buys the house will totally overhaul it, as it’s very dated, so I doubt the bell will stick around much longer. Someone might wonder about the hole in the floor/ceiling, though!


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