Here’s an interesting wee snippet of information which you may not know about me. Apart from six years in my life I’ve always stayed near the sea. Isn’t that fascinating? Yep I thought so as well. Once upon a time — this is not a cue for a fairy tale — I lived in a house right beside the beach. Only the garden wall protected my onions from the waves. In those days I tried to be very avant-garde and had my sitting room upstairs which meant I had an unrestricted view, across the Firth of Forth, to the Fife coastline. Many a day — sometimes weeks on end — I would just stare out the window especially when the waters were rough and the breakers would crash over the wall which didn’t do my onions any good, nor indeed anything else. When people visited I would invite them up to my inner chamber and say, “Would you look at that view,” and they in reply would often say, ‘Wow,’ which was sufficient for I knew what they meant.
One day an elderly aunt came for a short holiday and I gave her the guided tour. She looked at Fife but I can’t say she was terribly enthusiastic and it was nothing to do with Fifers who, personally, are lovely people. It was only when I took her to a spare attic room — known as the Maid’s room (incidentally a maid did not come with the house) that she showed any enthusiasm.
The room was plain, had no view, the most awful garish carpet which had more colours than Joseph’s coat, appalling wallpaper and a nondescript fireplace and yet she loved it. It transpired that in her youth she lived in a similar room when she was in service, although her abode never had a carpet but bare floorboards.
She plonked herself down on the single bed and started to reminisce and I sat beside her and listened to her story.
That was a strange day. I had never paid much attention to that wee space at the top of the stairs — it was surplus to requirements and only ever used to store bits and bobs and stuff I couldn’t be bothered putting up the attic and yet for one person it was like a treasure trove which ignited memories and brought to life her ghosts — friendly ones. I still appreciated and valued my view of the sea but I never took that room for granted again.