Thursday, 10 May 2012

House Haunting

21 Leverton
Have you ever heard of house haunting? A house haunting a spirit? Haunting previous tenants and telling new ones to occupy me? I have. A particular house has for years haunted me. I can visit whenever I wish to. Wide awake or asleep, it's there exactly as I remember it. I frequently wander through its rooms, beginning at the back of the building. I unfasten the latch on the white-painted gate, the blue kitchen door is swung open. Greeted by a kiss from relatives and the hiss of saucepans. In the lounge drinks and stuffed celery sticks are handed round. A short interval until lunch is announced and everyone scrambles to their place at the table. A leisurely meal where we all eat far too much and have to burn our over-indulgence off with a post-dinner amble. We return to a misted-up house, cups of tea and homemade Madeira cake. Our exits are made by the front door and our goodbyes said on the driveway.

An irregular shaped house with internal quirks, but this is what made it perfect. The creaks and groans of the floorboards; the slow click of footsteps on wooden stairs; and the plunk of aluminium blinds hoisted up or down. This house aged with me... Half-terms and Summer holidays were spent here, on the coast, with my seaside relations. Like a dressing-up box, this house contains a large chunk of my childhood memories. Now years on, this house bewitches me... haunting my thoughts, so I roam. The decor and furnishings are always the same; toys and books retain their well-used look and there's whiffs of homemade cooking. Life hasn't stopped, it's just got stuck in this time frame. This house, as it was then, is alive and breathing. It lives on, never changing. Stuck in time, but not stuck alone.

For sale or buy to let, where we lodge can be significant. Memories formed by our dwellings. The history contained within four walls is what makes moving home or the loss of property so emotive. Growing up, my parents seemed to be obsessed with exploring houses or churches. I'd roll my eyes, be dragged round, or sit in the car and listen to music. Now, it's my head that's bent over property papers. I ask myself in my best Loyd Grossman voice, “Who lives in a house like this?” Will this house haunt its present occupants once they've left?