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Monday 31st August 2015

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We are away for a late bank holiday break with friends in Suffolk. It may be a foolish time to take a three day break - or maybe it’s the perfect time. Love and Death should be relatively easy shows to relearn (though I am not sure I am totally right about that after listening to them on the drive) and it will be good to have some relaxation and family time. Phoebe will get to see the sea for the first time, not that she will understand what it is, the tiny nitwit.

It was not great beach weather today- at one point we had to drive through a bit of a flood on an A road that I think might have subsequently got the road closed down- but as most of the day was spent in the car that wasn’t  a big problem. Phoebe was awake for most of the journey but took it in her stride. We needed a bit of Elmo’s Song for the last 20 minutes. I am not yet irritated by this song, (only by Big Bird and Snuffy who are simply not as free and guileless spirits as Elmo) and I am not sure if I ever will. 

We had a fun dinner and then I went to put Phoebe to bed. As she snoozed I went on Twitter and saw Bob Mortimer tweeting a picture of his old Middlesbrough home. It was so reminiscent of my Grandma’s old house on Benson Street that it made me nostalgic. I tried to work out the last time I would have been in my grandparent’s lounge. It feels so vivid in my memory that it seems like only a couple of years ago, but my last visit must have been in the 1980s or possibly early 1990s. It was unsettling and moving (though I’d had some booze) to thing that memories that seem so recent are from 30 or sometimes 40 years ago. It was a tiny little house with a lounge, an indoor bathroom (though I fancy that I remember a time when that was an outside loo - maybe that was another house), a kitchen leading to a tiny yard (and did the yard lead out on to a back alley?) and then upstairs two bedrooms.

My grandma lived next door to a disabled woman called Vicki who used to paint us jubilee mugs. I am pretty certain that this was her, (sadly she died in 2007, it seems). She was the first disabled person that I knew and was properly funny and lovely. I am not sure two more remarkable women have ever lived next door to each other than Vicki and my gran. I hope they are next door to each other in Heaven. And if there wasn’t a God before then surely he would have had to invent Himself just to make this happen.

I discussed my grandparents’ homes in Middlesbrough (my dad’s parents had a slightly more middle-class home in Clepstone Avenue, where they always had an indoor toilet, always stocked with that medical greaseproof paper toilet paper that I never understood how to use - toilet paper surely needs to absorb on some level). A Middlesbrough estate agent got in touch and I told him that if 11 Benson St ever comes on the market that I would buy it (it can surely only cost £450). One of his colleagues told me that he had had 11, Clepstone Avenue on the market a couple of years ago and still had the pictures, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to see them. I remember both these houses the way they were in the seventies and eighties, with ten year old jars of Marmite in the pantry and shaving brushes and soap sticks on the basin. I don’t think I’d want to see them now, decorated and improved on by someone else. They surely wouldn’t look anything like they once did. I’d be spying on the lives of strangers rather than revisiting the ghosts of my youth.  But it was bitter-sweet fun to revisit in my mind.



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