‘Scribblers’ (aka Creative Writing 2) had their second meeting on Tuesday 10 January and read their writing based on ‘The Wardrobe’. Two members were brave enough to allow their pieces to be published.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 14 February at the Function Room in the Lincoln Arms, 10am-12pm. Our writing theme is something based on love. We still have a few vacancies, so please contact Pat on 01306 889278 for details if interested.
Gill hopes her protagonist’s behaviour won’t offend any house-sitters among Dorking U3A members:
Confessions of a House-Sitter
Hi! Let me introduce myself, as I must never miss a marketing opportunity. My name is Jo Riley, professional house- and pet-sitter. I love my job because I adore animals and I am very, shall we say, inquisitive?
This trait started from a very young age when I loved to look in house windows as I walked by and in adulthood developed into purporting to be a first-time buyer so I could have a good nose around other folks’ homes. And now I get to live in them, as if I almost own them, for a few days or even weeks. It’s a perfectly harmless activity. Trust me, I am discreet and never discuss with others the things that I discover and, believe me, there are some odd people out there. From extensive collections of cat/canine dresses, tiaras and boots (Yes! Boots!) to very explicit photo albums and even an indoor shrine; I gain a great insight into the everyday lives of my clients.
I am currently cat-sitting for Miss Goring in a small Victorian terraced house in the backwaters of town. Miss Goring, now retired, was once my English teacher. A tall, severe, grey-bunned lady with a taste for scratchy tweed suits who was totally unable to enthuse her students due to her uninspiring delivery. I am certain she could make Fifty Shades of Grey read like a mindfulness exercise. Her passion was, as she ceaselessly told us, for the likes of Shakespeare, Joyce, Tolstoy and Chaucer, but the monotony of her tone induced inertia in us. Boring-Goring was the given nickname, and it is with total wonderment that any of us passed our exams due to sleeping through most of her classes.
I have been in the house two days now and have found nothing particularly remarkable; in fact, much as expected. There are, as I refer to them, the ‘spinster standards’: large potted palm in the hall; sturdy and uncomfortable antimacassared sofa; a faded print depicting sea scene (with galleon) above the fireplace; avocado bathroom suite with nasty water-stained bath. Are you getting the general idea? It was not a homely set-up and, without central heating, almost unbearable at this time of year. Even the cat escaped through the front door at any opportunity and only returned because I provided tastier food than that left by Miss G.
There was only one exceptional item in the house: the wardrobe in her bedroom, which was a solid, aged piece of good lineage and otherwise unremarkable except for the fact that it was securely locked. To my mind, a locked cupboard is worthy of investigation, for I found most clients tended to lock away those things they did not want me to see.
So far I had been unable to pick this lock, with my usual selection of keys when, sitting on the bed to consider other options, I noted the slight lump under the worn bedside carpet. Hey presto, I had my key and the prize would shortly be revealed. I slipped the key into the lock and turned it slowly. The door swung open and as I took in what I saw, I grinned in delight. No, dear Reader, not a selection of titillating lingerie, whips or saucy magazines but floor to ceiling of very well thumbed Mills and Boon!
Penny’s sturdy piece of furniture holds a few lifetimes’ memories:
I was placed here in the Year of Our Lord 1600 on a blustery March day that lent a lie to the coming of spring as catkins were tossed carelessly into the teeth of a freezing gale. I looked forth out of a window glazed at great expense, as newly made of ancient oak, and my memories sank deep into a past of seasons lost to all but the rhymes of trees.
I stood here witness to first love as the bride gasped in joy at the passing of virtue and then screamed into the dawn of a fair summer day at the cry of her new-born son as her life bled away to the sobbing of her beloved murderer.
I stood here as the girl donned black wool and white linen collars to the advance of Parliament’s men, tears glistening for the memory of satin and lace; and again to more tears as bells called out the return of the King and the dress dragged from the hidden trunk cascaded in a waterfall of sky blue silk amidst a mighty cloud of moths.
I stood here as the ash tree grew outside the window from a seed planted by tiny hands to the cry ‘It’ll never grow’; and then as those once-tiny hands artlessly lifted his children’s children into the branches to watch the return of the crumpled soldiers mourning for the loss of a New World.
I stood here as a mother caressed the wood shrouding the sorrow of a winter’s fever and as the woodman cut rot from the ash as the summer that never came swept ice and cold and starvation across the land.
I stood here as the ivy was cut to adorn the hall and, to the music and laughter of feasts beyond counting all aglow with the swish of fine gowns and finest cigars, as the smallest maid wept sorting the paper in the privies on Christmas Day.
I stood here as the iron horse tore its way through the wood from where my ancient timbers had been felled, all huff and puff for a future alive with hope of laden shelves.
I stood here as the hero of Mafeking returned, tall and proud in the slaughter of innocents, strutting for the ladies.
I stood here as the woman wept for a son lost to mud and blood and a grave unfound on a poppy-strewn field; and again for a grandson stolen by a swamp in a far land building a railroad from hell to hell’s end.
I stood here as the bomb flattened the chicken house, sending feathers to heaven and providing a meal of broken bird for all prepared to gather the remains.
I stood here as silence fell and the fires were unlit, as plaster cracked, damp rose and weeds moved in.
I stood here as the couple scraped at old walls and scrubbed at old glass. ‘What about the old wardrobe?’ one said. ‘It can’t be moved,’ said the other. ‘It’s settled into the floor. It won’t stand evenly anywhere else. Leave it where it is.’
I stood here as the granddaughter placed a table and chair before me and opened her laptop. ‘Talk,’ she said, and so I did.
I was placed here in the Year of Our Lord 1600 on a blustery March day…