In my blog Sense of Place, I suggested that homes live in the memory and we are able to describe them in detail. Whether that detail is correct is, of course, open to debate, our memories are faulty, and we probably describe home as we want it to be rather than as it really was. I thought it would be a good exercise to describe some of the places I have called home and see if I can make them real again. I’ll begin with the house I lived in as a child, from the age of one to soon after my tenth birthday. It was in a village on the western side of the Pennines, called Edenfield.
I hesitate to call my first home a house as it had originally been the village market hall, and was, at the time we lived, there a shop. It was situated in Market Place at the junction of two busy roads, one went to Bury and then Manchester and the other to Rochdale. A roundabout occupies the place now.
Our home was rather burrow-like as we lived in the back part of the building and the rooms were dark and only really cosy in winter when the fire was lit. From the parlour there was a stone-flagged corridor that led into a tiny kitchen, where my mother cooked and washed. There was a smell of wet clothes emanating from the copper, as steam filled the kitchen, to be followed by the sound of rollers wringing the clothes before they were hung out on lines in the back yard.The other smell was a mixture of linseed oil and paraffin. The linseed oil came from cans of putty, which were for sale in the shop and the paraffin was spilt as it was poured from large canisters into cans brought by customers. During the day there would be the sound of the plumbers and apprentices my father employed as they worked above our heads, the bang of hammers, the hissing of soldering irons and their chatter.
After a few years we moved upstairs and lived over the shop. The picture shows the view from the large sitting room window. But I will come back to those years later.