THE LAST WORD

With Neil Haver­son

Let's Talk - - Contents - by Neil Haver­son let­stalk@ ar­chant.co.uk

A ll it takes are two old fruit trees, a pear and an ap­ple, to kick-start the mem­o­ries. They were here when we moved into our house 35 years ago. Like us, they were young with many years ahead of them.

The house was a two-bed de­tached chalet. Not a huge gar­den but plenty to keep us busy.

With the en­thu­si­asm of a young mar­ried cou­ple we set about dec­o­rat­ing, dig­ging and fur­nish­ing.

Two chil­dren ar­rived; more space was needed. With help from the bank of Mum and Dad two bed­rooms be­came four and we ex­tended our small kitchen.

Life moved on. The two fruit trees ma­tured. As they blos­somed so did our chil­dren. Under the sway­ing branches came the sand­pit, the pad­dling pool and, as the years rolled on, bikes of in­creas­ing sizes.

They were joined by their noisy but love­able friends and fi­nally their won­der­ful part­ners.

We didn’t get much fruit from those trees in the early days - but they had their uses. They had been planted per­fectly to act as goal­posts, or in sum­mer the pear tree was ideal for cricket stumps.

Even now, as I wan­der down the gar­den I hear the shrieks as an­other goal was scored. Or the cry of an­guish as a penalty was missed. “Okay,” I’d say. “Take it again.” Well, that’s what you do as a par­ent.

The point is, we don’t just have a house, we have a home. But the Gov­ern­ment is sug­gest­ing it will of­fer us an in­cen­tive to move and make way for a fam­ily. So are we be­ing self­ish, rat­tling around in a house big­ger than we need? Or do the emo­tional ties trump ev­ery­thing? As we’ve got older we do feel more pres­sure to move.

But this re­ally is our cas­tle. It’s seen us through the good times. Ar­riv­ing home with new-borns, the chil­dren’s birth­day par­ties and sit­ting proudly in the lounge watch­ing our small daugh­ter prac­tic­ing the steps for her an­nual dance show. Even drilling holes in the wall for elec­tric ca­bles to sat­isfy the needs of a bud­ding young elec­tron­ics wizard.

At Christ­mas the tree al­ways stood – stands – in the same cor­ner. Two small hu­mans “helped” Mrs H with the decorations and stash­ing presents under it. A large sack was slung over the back of the arm­chair. Amaz­ingly, come Christ­mas morn­ing it was bulging with presents. We still put it there even though now it’s only for show.

Over the years we’ve taken loads of pho­tos. We look at them and say: “Do you re­mem­ber that three-piece suite? Blimey, did we re­ally have that colour in the kitchen?”

Even with just the two of us, we’ve man­aged to fill al­most ev­ery avail­able space; much of it with stuff we just can’t throw it away – so many mem­o­ries.

Then there were the not so good times. The old home­stead pro­vided com­fort and sta­bil­ity when life took a sad turn; from bro­ken teenage ro­mances to be­reave­ments.

We have su­per neigh­bours, we look out for each other’s houses when we’re away.

So how can we leave such a spe­cial place heav­ing with mem­o­ries, for what would prob­a­bly be a two-bed bun­ga­low in a strange neigh­bour­hood?

Then we have the prac­ti­cal dis­cus­sion. A big house is costly to heat, it re­quires a lot of main­te­nance, and then there’s the up­keep of the gar­den.

Mrs H points out: “One day there’ll prob­a­bly be just one of us. How’s who­ever is left go­ing to man­age all this?”

But, yet again, we put off mak­ing a de­ci­sion. Like the fruit trees, our roots go deep.

Not Wem­b­ley, but plenty of goals have been scored in Neil’s gar­den!

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