By David Jolley
Number 50 has new people in it. We are not quite sure who is who yet but we will. We saw the previous family grow from one infant in arms to two running about and learning to ride bikes along with mum and dad. Stars of our local school – they have been whisked off to Yorkshire at the behest of work. There have been six or seven families through that house in the 37 years we have lived here.
We are now the longest established neighbours. When we came we were surrounded by households with firmer roots: Barbara whose husband’s family had built these houses in the early 1900s, Win who came here when she was three and stayed on into her 80s, Wynn who never married but was highly respected in ‘the office’ of a local factory, May who was brought up in a number 50 but had gone away, including some years in foreign parts but had returned live at 35 into old age. These was a sense of peace and continuity – this is how it should be and will be. And to look at them these houses are unchanged – so much so that we boast ‘Conservation Area’ status.
But people come and go. Some change the insides of their homes quite dramatically. We wonder why and give thanks that we have the benefit of hoisted racks in the kitchen to dry the washing, original kitchen cupboards and a pantry, and a fireplace which gives ventilation and a focus.
But there is another version of continuity evident amongst our older friends, especially those linked via the church. This is what happens when life within ‘the family home’ is given over to a move – to a smaller house, a bungalow, or a flat. There new bases do not always remain fit for purpose as needs change so that a further move is contemplated – to a sheltered flat or care home. Properties become known within the circle – Jim will move into the flat which Ethel moved into before she needed to go into Handsworth. Henry and Victoria have their names down for the next vacancy at Ashton Court where there are already four Methodist families.
But most of us are still most at home down the street where we grew up madness our house – Google Search