Many years ago, we had to move my Grandad and Grandma Minchin out of their house in Thorney Abbey Rd Blidworth to their final residence in a nursing home. Grandma had become frail and Grandad too ill to climb the stairs to bed. Neither of them really wanted to leave their home.
Many years later, we had to move my mum and dad from their one and only home on Python Hill to their final residence on Cambridge Rd. Again, Dad didn’t want to move, despite mum struggling with the upstairs. Ironically, it took Dad falling seriously ill to force the upheaval.
Grandma and Grandad Burch suffered a similar fate, having to move from their one and only home to an OAP bungalow on Rainworth Water Rd through Grandad’s failing health.
And while they were all called selfish for wanting to stay, I know why they did – they had put their life, heart and soul into building the family home, literally years of effort, money and love, and had built a multitude of memories there. I can see how that is difficult to let go.
I had always lived at 26 Python Hill, next to my mum’s parents at 24. The house hardly changed through my years there. The biggest transformations was adding a lawn and a rear porch. Dad had always had a small lawn that he treated like his very own bowling green, we weren’t allowed to play on it a lot of the time, except if he was letting me play with his “woods”.
The top half of the garden, which led to the boundary with King’s Farm, was wasteland and my adventure playground. After I had got married and moved out, Dad was offered some large slabs through a mate who worked at the council, and he slabbed the back yard and built a small patio at the top of his lawn. He spent a fortune having the top of the garden landscaped and laid to lawn, and with my recently self taught brick laying skills, I built him a small retaining wall between the top area and his patio.
About the same time I built Dad a small porch – it was the first but not last time I realised we were both very strong minded people and found it difficult to work alongside each other. He would ask my advice and then do totally the opposite, and ever the perfectionist, anything you did was never quite good enough. I remember him offering to help me lay slabs at our new house one Saturday morning, and when he arrived I had already laid a dozen or so – your mum called me in for lunch and he said he would carry on, but when I came back out all he had done was take up my slabs and start laying them “properly”.
I learned my lesson years later – Having realised that it was more important to have him by my side than do it my own way, I asked him to help lay my decking, and gave him the opportunity to amend my design and take charge of the operation. He needed to know someone still needed him, and I was happy to do that.
Back at No 26, as I said Grandad and Grandma Burch lived next door, and didn’t we know it – she was always wandering in for a chat, much to the annoyance of both mum and dad. In those days you didn’t lock up at night, and on a Sunday I would wake up early, get dressed and sneak into next door, Grandma and Grandad often still in bed. I would creep upstairs and ask them if I could play records on their Dansette record player, and of course they always said yes.
By the time they come down to make me my regular tea and toast (toasted on a proper extending fork over the open fire) I would have all the singles spread across the parlour carpet ready to play. I couldn’t read at that time, only being about 4 or 5, but I knew the records from their sleeves and labels – the bottle green parlophone was Matt Monroe, then there was the multi-coloured Decca label, the black label of the Beatles, The colourful label of the Animals House of The Rising Sun, and my favourite Nights in White Satin.
They were mesmerised how I could work the record player, just as we were mesmerised how my own kids could work the video, and how my grandkids work ipads and iphones before they can talk.
Although Uncle John had long gone to live in Bilsthorpe with Jill, Russell and Colin still lived next door – Russell would take me fishing in between courting Christine and working for British Woodwares, and fashion conscious Colin would pay me to polish his boots ready (after his hard shift down the pit) for his nightly clubbing sessions with frilly shirt and velvet jacket – With his moustache and shiny boots he was the spitting image of Jason King – although he wouldn’t exist for another six or seven years.
Grandad Burch loved playing chess and had this large plastic chess set that he kept in a black enamelled tin that looked like a bird cage with colourful parrots in it,and we would sit many hours while he taught me to play – but he always beat me. He was very good at it.
I had the large bedroom next to my mum and dad’s until Jeffrey came along, then I was transferred into the back bedroom until I left home – when I was courting Sue would stay very occasionally in my room while I went in with Jeff – But more often I stayed at Sue’s sleeping on the sofa of all places. That would be unheard of now!
We had so many good times at 26 Python Hill. The parlour was our play room, the garden our own private jungle. We had very little, and we were happy with it.
When it is time, we will move from 8 Sycamore. I will be just as reluctant as my dad, and his dad before him. I make no apologies for it. I will see sense and realise that it has all got a bit much for me and your mum, but nevertheless, our memories are here and moving out marks the last leg of our journey together. I’m sure we will find something which suits both our needs – single storey for your mum, and something not resembling a pokey hole for me. It would be a shame to have lived and worked so hard for all these years to build a family home of our own, only to live out our final days in a rabbit hutch.
But we have a little way to go before that happens…