Monday, 29 March 2010

Is There Any Room in the Inn?

I arranged to meet an old school friend at the end of last week. She was visiting her parents for a couple of days, and I said I'd come along to the house and see her mum and dad too.

'Can you remember how to get to the house?' she asked.
'Of course I can bloody remember,' I replied.
The 'R's' house was EVERYone's house back in our schooldays.

It was only a 35 minute journey from my house, and a very strange thing started to happen on my way there. I started to cry.
'What the hell are you crying for?' I asked myself, and quickly managed to stop the tears. They started again, I stopped them again, and so it went on until I landed at the doorstep. The familiar 'driiiing' of the doorbell and my friend opened the door. More tears, a bewildered friend, hugs, snot, and then finally, calm.

Everything was exactly how I remembered it in my adopted childhood home. Tidy clutter, a mission control centre for my friend's dad, with remote controls, telephones, and alarm clocks beeping every few minutes for no apparent reason, and the furnishings - all as it was 30 years ago when we were just 11 years old.

I was reminded of the night that a friend's flicky-fringed boyfriend had crashed out under the Grandfather clock - only to be woken every 15 minutes with a tuneful chime. I remembered the hundreds of nights we all crashed out in the loft after eventful trips into town. I even remembered exactly where I sat when my friend and I sang our way through the entire Tina Turner album, Private Dancer - very badly, and very loudly.

I love that house - and I love the people in it. Being there was like someone wrapping a blanket round my shoulders, giving me a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate and a big hug.

Before I left, my friend's dad fetched one of their prize possessions to show me. It was a small Christmas card in a frame. Mary and Joseph were pictured clip clopping along. At the top of the card was a speech bubble coming from Joseph's mouth, drawn in in biro, and in my scrawly handwriting he was saying - 'Divvent worry, Mary, there's always a bed at the R's hoose...'

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