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A Shout From The Attic: Nanny's Broken World

...Apart from modern three-piece suite in Nanny’s Front Room, upon whose luxurious tawny-brown uncut moquette cushions I was never invited to rest, the furniture in the house was serviceable but old, and that helped to preserve an atmosphere of the past....

Ronnie Bray tells of homelife during his boyhood.

To read earlier chapters of Ronnie's memorable autobio9graphy please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/a_shout_from_the_attic/

Being caught between the last gasp of the inspirational age of the Victorians and the more practical era of the first half of the Twentieth century was often as intriguing as it could be bewildering. My home in Fitzwilliam Street, was once a well-to-do town house with rooms for servants and a system of bell pulls and a set of brass bells to summon them from the cellar that housed scullery, kitchen, pantry, and wine cellar, Outside the servants attic rooms, on a small landing, were stored abandoned objects that held the fading past and the dawning present together in unlikely combinations.

One of these was a stout wooden frame that supported a rudimentary radio loudspeaker with a huge horseshoe magnet at its back whose vellum, when pierced with a sharp pencil, gave a satisfying POP! Huddled against it on the floor was an ancient smoothing iron of ornate design with a wooden handle, to which was fastened a length of red rubber gas tubing, left over from the house’s pre-electric days, and a polished chromed clip-on shoe for the more primeval smoothing irons that had to be heated on smoking coals in the fire grate.

Apart from modern three-piece suite in Nanny’s Front Room, upon whose luxurious tawny-brown uncut moquette cushions I was never invited to rest, the furniture in the house was serviceable but old, and that helped to preserve an atmosphere of the past. The hall outside Nanny’s Holy of Holies was home to a pair of glossy double wooden wardrobes that were filled with the remnants of a life that my Nanny had lived when she was younger but had abandoned when her heart was broken and the love it once felt was replaced by an anger that lay rumbling beneath a veneer of feigned civility.

Like the paraphernalia of our private hopes and dreams, Nanny couldn’t bring herself to discard the tokens of her own and, being preserved, they were occasional treats to my prying eyes as, in dread and fearful silence, I unlocked their doors to survey ancient secrets that seemed as old as Egypt’s pyramids, and spied unseen esoteric artefacts such as shampoo powders enriched with the stuff of wizards’ brews whose very names were incantations in themselves, the utterance of which might bring the world to an end. Designations such as henna, coconut oil, and less memorable charms that belonged to the broken world of the Nanny I never knew, who had disappeared into the hinterland of betrayed love where one pretends not to love, and undertakes earnest and hard toil in which to expend one’s pent-up and unused passions.

I was never to know the luxury of spending time with parents or grandparents, simply enjoying special time in close association as they transmitted love and wisdom, and this was not merely my deprivation, if the stories my friends told were true, but for many other children. Being left to our own devices meant that our inventivity was frequently put to the test.

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