A Time Machine For A Day
I’ve been feeling quite melancholic for a few days. Don’t worry – it’s a familiar, usually comfortable state for me. I think it’s been triggered by Steven’s new house. There is something about the house and particularly the surrounding area that looks and smells and feels very much like the 1970s. Being the decade of my teenage, any reminder is likely to plunge me back to The Sweet and later, Harringtons and two tone trousers. The shops across the road which are now a newsagent, off license, hairdressers and kebab shop would have been a butchers, bakers, greengrocers and newsagent back in the 70s. The living room we sit in reminds me of all those front rooms we visited in the 70s during our family Sunday afternoon visits.
I’ve never revisited the 1970s so strongly before through a home and location. Our first house when we married was a new build and very much of that Brookside Close style popular in the early 1980s. We stayed there 26 years until Steven and I moved to the Uxbridge flat in 2009. The flat had no character whatsoever but it became a dark place after the detention of 2010 and it was a blessing to get away. Then we had the temporary Cowley house for the past three years. The whole estate was built in the 1940s to house American airmen and their families. Whilst we were there, I would often glimpse the ghosts of a young GI and his beautiful bride, dancing to a Glenn Miller song, whilst tidying the pantry. But the 1940s was before my time, so the building and ghosts never had a personal resonance. The new house is different. I get the references. On one of the shed walls there’s the message, “Sandra loves Kevin”, two 1970s names, straight from my school register.
Yesterday, I whizzed forward a decade. One of the great joys of working from my own flat is when a client unexpectedly cancels their session, I’ve got plenty to be getting on with. Yesterday, two clients back to back cancelled, so I watched the film ” Pride”. 1984 – the miners strike, AIDs, Two Tribes. I went on a couple of Red Wedge marches, mainly because of The Style Council but the whole idea of a group like LGSM coming together to support the miners seems almost dinosaur like in 2016. More ghosts.
To top it off, I went to bed early and watched some Alan Bennett interviews on YouTube. In one, he discussed the TV series, 7 Up. This is the Michael Apted series where he revisits the same people every seven years. It started when the kids were 7 back in the 1960s and the last show saw them at 56. Bennett talked about one participant who at 7 wanted to be an astronaut but by his mid 30s, he was homeless and had mental health problems. Bennett commented that his unfulfilled hopes made for a desperately sad story but in typical Bennett style, he flipped it over and said there was also something sad about those participants who had fulfilled their hopes. I think he was referring to time. Fulfilling or not fulfilling dreams normally happens over a period of time. And the longer that time takes, the sadder the move from innocent dreaming to realisation or non realisation can seem. Nowadays, we tritely talk about “journeys” but feeling your timeline from 7 to 56, really feeling it, can be very powerful.
I guess that’s why I didn’t feel a sense of achievement finally getting Steven’s house habitable. The journey has been too long. The photo albums have become too packed. There may have been too many ghosts helping with the decorating. This strong sense of the 1970s I’ve been feeling may be because this adventure of getting Steven a home, started for me back in the 1970s.
I wrote in the last blog post that I suspect that Steven is on the verge of a major developmental shift. I think I am too. We experience that precipice moment differently, that’s all. In my psyche, before a big change, I tend to jump into a time machine. To re-engage with my story. To talk to the ghosts. To eat one last Arctic roll from the Hostess trolley.
I have no fears that I will stay in the 1970s. It no longer fits. But I know that the 1970s stay in me. It couldn’t be any other way. And that’s alright.