Friday, 26 August 2011

The Close

Some of the neighbours from our close are off to buy the basics for our annual Close BBQ.

This is a truly happy event, usually starting around 3.00 pm, gaining momentum through late afternoon/evening and finishing  if the weather holds, around 1.00 am

It is 31 years today since I (we), moved into this house, our first house, one we thought, of many.  Not so.  From the stark building site of 1980, it has developed into a really pleasant friendly and peaceful place to live, and neither John nor I could have asked for better.

We left the removal men packing the last of our 'stuff'', put the most valuable and likely to be needed soonest, items into the car and off we set, from Northwood to Aylesbury, a journey of about thirty miles.

Mitzy our tortoiseshell cat started the journey in her carrying basket, but her anguished wails became so loud that we stopped the car took her out of the basket and I held her in my arms all the way. (with the window open so I could put out handfuls of her fur).  She shivered and cried all the way and was quite inconsolable.

When we arrived, we had already carpeted and curtained a couple of days before so we thought it would feel more like home.  Mitzy shot upstairs into the corner of the small bedroom where there was an empty cardboard box with bits of newspaper still in the bottom, she crawled inside under the paper and shook and shivered for hours.  Nothing would tempt her out, so we put her food and water and her litter-tray in there with her and left her to it.

It took her, and us too, about a month before we even felt remotely at home, and even then, since the estate was being built around us, it still didn't feel permanent.

Once we had neighbours and the bits of 'street furnishing' like lamps, kerbs etc appeared it began to take on a different feel and bit by bit we found ourselves starting to examine new people as they moved in and slowly getting to know them.

Living in what I call, the key-hole end of a smallish close has distinct advantages as well as significant disadvantages.

If just one person (family) jars on the rest of the community, while the opposite is true, and if good luck holds and each new arrival is welcomed and made to feel a part of the group, it goes from strength to strength, the odd 'bad apple' soon (at least in my experience) either is absorbed into the group or moves on.

Since John's death two years ago, I have had more even than normal, to thank my lovely friends and neighbours in the Close for, and we have  become even closer.

Mitzy grew to love the area and was a favourite with a number of the early occupants (though, on her own terms of course).  John, who was not gregarious would exile himself to his 'office' rather than mix and chat, but even he was appreciative of the nearest bunch of neighbours and became quite close to a few of them.

For myself, it has been a huge comfort and support in a very difficult time, and what could have sealed my  loneliness and left me a total hermit has been the  means of exploring a whole new way of life.

It is my home, and I hope it always will be, but without the people around me it would just be a house.


  1. You're on a roll, Ray! The bird post was wonderful and so is this. How nice to hear your meditating on home and place and family. I hope the BBQ is loads of fun!

  2. Many thanks Penny.
    I think most of the reminiscing is due to the date, and to the fact that it simply will not stop raining so I have little else to do.
    Hopefully the BBQ which is on Sunday pm will see s change for the better in our so-called summer.

  3. I have been mindful of your August all along.I think you have done your best posts in these weeks.

  4. Margaret, really?

    I'm too close to it to see I suppose. Well, I'll have to try to analyse it later, and hopefully, learn from it.

  5. Thank you for sharing your reminiscences - they help to fill out the picture of you I have in my head. You strike me as being someone who is very brave. Every Blessing

  6. Oh no I really am not Freda. Please, don't imagine I have even an average amount of courage.
    If my back is truly to the wall, then I'll fight to survive, but generally speaking the maxim "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day",is my mantra.