Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Operation Half Landing

Todays challenge was to clear the half-landing.

For years the half landing has been the depository for books that were regarded as of lesser importance, but which we didn't have the heart to dispose of.  The collection grew and grew until it reached way above the bottom of the mirror!

Todays task was to go through and sort. 90% of them are now destined for the charity shop.  I hate to think of books being destroyed, and would much prefer them to go to a new home - however demand for french fiction, outdated cookery books and 1980's encyclopaedias is limited.  'Bodice rippers' and 'murder mysteries' do not abound in this house, so the average charity shop was not the place to send them. Some will be recycled, others will be destined for a charity shop specialising in books, which hopefully can offer them the potential of a new home.

As I went through the volumes, it was as if I was looking back through my whole life and before. I opened up a photo album and there was my maternal Grandfather, looking just as I remember him, sat on one of his camping chairs, enjoying the summer sunshine in his immaculately tended garden. Holiday photos from Suffolk and Devon. Family groupings, including a rare one of Gran with her three children - my father and his two sisters. Taken by me at my insistence, to record the first time I had seen them together.  Photos of my parents, grand parents and great grandparents that I didn't remember seeing before - the ones of my mum as a child remind me very much of her grand daughter, Sian.

In time I plan to scan all these and put them online, so that all members of the family will have access to them, for this is not just my history, but the collective past of cousins, nieces, nephews and other more distant connections.

There were books too from the past.  A poetry book from my mothers school days. Old diaries.  The dark Blue Oxford Dictionary which was the families guide to spelling and definitions when I was growing up.  The creased, fragile pages and repaired spine testifying to the service it has given. How many more words have been added to the English language since it was printed?  I rescued it when we cleared my parents house, but will it survive the cull this time?

We have too many puzzles and games. Hard decisions will have to be made as to which ones survive. or shall we just roll the dice and sideline sentimentality?  I look at those boxes and memories are triggered.  The scrabble turntable, so that no-one was disadvantaged by the way the board faced.  Dominoes from Torquay, with which I learnt to play 'Fives and Threes'.

The day ends and the half landing is clear.  The mirror is no longer hidden behind towering boxes and books.  I remember that the first Christmas that Abi was in school I hung Christmas lights around this mirror. I spent ages with her, going round the colours until she could correctly identify red, blue, green, yellow and pink...After that she never had any trouble identifying colours!

Just when I think that there are no more surprises, I notice some original artwork.  Unseen for many years....

I doubt if even the artist knows if it is signed...