Jackie Bird’s Col­umn

“Like an an­cient tree, the older we get the more we need our roots for sus­te­nance and sta­bil­ity.”

No. 1 Magazine - - SCOTLAND’S NO.1 -

Mov­ing house is re­put­edly more stress­ful than divorce or start­ing a new job, so to make life more in­ter­est­ing I’ve just en­cour­aged my par­ents, who are ei­ther side of 80, to up sticks. Not only that but it’s the first time they’ve ac­tu­ally done it, hav­ing moved to their cur­rent home when John F Kennedy was Pres­i­dent. When I told my brother they were mov­ing you’d have thought I’d in­formed him I’d just done the old dears in for the in­her­i­tance and buried them un­der the pa­tio, such was his shock. “But that’s the house where I grew up,” he wailed, as if it was La­nark­shire’s Grace­land. If I’m honest I’m sur­prised my par­ents took to the idea so read­ily, but the fact that the once quiet road has be­come a race track for the cen­tral belt’s buses played a part. Added to that, the Hi­malayan stairs to reach the front door meant there was a con­stant fear a trip to A&E was only a miss-step away. I’ll be sad to leave the old place too as ev­ery inch of it has a mem­ory. Grow­ing up my brother and I turned our tiny gar­den into Wim­ble­don, a show-jump­ing course, even a con­cert stage, depending on what­ever was on the telly at the time. On sum­mer nights we were oc­ca­sion­ally al­lowed to sleep out un­der sheets stretched across the clothes line, and even in our prized tent when we even­tu­ally got one sec­ond hand. I re­call en­tire sum­mers throw­ing two balls against the back door un­til mum said it was giv­ing her a headache, or play­ing kick-the-can un­til it got dark with hoards of the other kids in the street. Nowa­days only a tiny few of those orig­i­nal neigh­bours re­main, and the only peo­ple rac­ing up their stairs are their grand­chil­dren or even great­grand­chil­dren. It’s a mea­sure of how times have changed that those gar­dens, with a patch of grass and a whole lot of imag­i­na­tion, have long ceased to be play­grounds. In­ci­den­tally, in case I’m paint­ing too rose-tinted a pic­ture I should add that for ev­ery de­light­ful day Bruv and I played hap­pily there was an­other where we ended up ham­mer­ing the liv­ing day­lights out of each other and be­ing sent to bed early. Mem­o­ries aside, the ac­tual phys­i­cal move from the house will be a dod­dle as it’s so small. My own chil­dren can’t be­lieve I shared a room with my brother un­til I moved out and rented a flat, and quite frankly nei­ther can I. Back then I en­forced a border in the room with a wardrobe and a net cur­tain; pic­tures of Donny Os­mond in one half and the Bat­tle of Bri­tain with a squadron of Air­fix planes hang­ing from the ceil­ing in the other. De­spite the fact they’re not pack­ing up from Blen­heim Palace my mum and dad are fret­ting about the move. It’s a whole new world of es­tate agents, home re­ports and lawyers. I know I’m go­ing to have to gag my dad when some­one sug­gests a val­u­a­tion that’s less than he thinks it ought to be. Try telling him the house he’s lived in and main­tained for over half a cen­tury is worth about the same as a lux­ury car. But by far the most poignant thing that’s hap­pened is the peo­ple who have lived in the street for the same length of time who’ve dropped by to say how sorry they are that my par­ents are leav­ing. The older you get and the more life changes around you, it must be nice to have some con­stants, and is no doubt a bit of a blow when they go. Eras have to end. My old school is now a hous­ing es­tate and many other haunts of my past have been wiped off the map and now the fam­ily home will soon host new in­hab­i­tants. Oh how I’d love to be a fly on the wall when they take the wall-pa­per off and dis­cover not only our heights marked down the years but my dad’s run­ning com­men­tary on the state of the world when that par­tic­u­lar room was be­ing dec­o­rated. Like an an­cient tree, the older we get the more we need our roots for sus­te­nance and sta­bil­ity. Hav­ing my par­ents in the house where I grew up and be­ing able to visit it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis has been some­thing I’ve taken for granted. So if you’re read­ing this and are about to buy a small, muchloved house in La­nark­shire, be re­as­sured that the stranger in the car oc­ca­sion­ally peer­ing into your liv­ing room isn’t a malev­o­lent stalker, but a friendly blast from the past.

“When I told my brother our par­ents were mov­ing you’d have thought I’d done the old dears in for the in­her­i­tance and buried them un­der the pa­tio such was his shock”

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