Comfortable Old Armchair

4d63f900e5f4b2d8c84bc8db99cbe656
My grandfather loved books, and I think he loved me almost as much.
I know I loved him.
I can still remember the feeling of squashing down next to him in that comfortable ancient armchair.
No one sat in that chair except my grandfather. It wasn’t because we were scared of him or anything like that, it was just that it was his chair and to sit there without him in it, didn’t seem right.
I was working overseas when my grandparents died; one after the other with only days between them.
It wasn’t the kind of job that I could up and leave, so by the time I was back in the country, there wasn’t a physical sign that they had ever been here on this Earth. Their ashes had been scattered, and their house emptied and sold.
Indecent haste was how I phrased it.
“Where the fuck were you while all the work was being done?” was their reply. I guess I pissed my father off because he wouldn’t tell me what had happened to my grandparent’s furniture. It was the armchair that I was really interested in, but I guess it was landfill or in some op-shop warehouse somewhere. I hoped that it had been purchased by a house full of uni students. I could see a nineteen-year-old female English Literature student curled up with a tattered old copy of something by Somerset Maugham. Possibly, ‘The Razor’s Edge’. Yes, that would be good.
My grandfather introduced me to the delights of Enid Blyton and Robert Louis Stephenson in equal measure. He didn’t treat me like a little girl, he saw only a curious, young person who had fallen in love with the worlds that existed between the pages of a book.
He had the most beautiful husky voice, and sitting close to him was like sitting in an old dusty closet. He was warm even in winter, and I got the feeling that it was because of some kind of inner glow caused by his love of books.
He always read me books that were a bit above my understanding, and I think that was on purpose. He would smile when I asked him what a particular word meant, and he would sometimes get me to run my finger over the word as he explained its meaning.
I collect bookmarks because he did.
I give books as presents because he said it was a wise thing to do.
His heroes were authors, and mine are too.
He thought that reading was as essential as writing, and so do I.
We will meet again someday, but for now, I have to be the person he wanted me to be, and I need to find a comfortable old armchair so I can sit and read and remember.

Brightway Corner.

My childhood was spent in Preston and against all the

odds, I survived.

This article has been published in Milkbar Mag

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These days it’s easier to survive and from the look of the street I grew up in, it is a happy place to be.
Practically every house in my childhood neighbourhood has been ‘restored’.
Unrestored and in many ways just the way it was when it first opened back in the 1950s is the ‘Brightway Corner’ Milk Bar.
There is a tram stop right out the front which was moved about twenty five metres a few decades back.
The reason for the move is unclear but now the trams block a side street when they stop, which is cool I guess.
Sixty years is a long time. No one seems to remember who built this tiny milk bar but it is still there selling all the things that modern convenience stores sell.
I do remember that the original owner ran the store for a long time; people did that in those days, unlike today where you just have time to learn the new owner’s name before they sell up in an endless game of ‘flip the convenience store’.
I remember going into this store to do what small boys do and choosing my favourite sweet, when mum’s budget would allow.
The inexplicably relocated tram stop was where I would stand waiting for a tram to take me to primary school ( the only form of school that was fun to be a part of). Much later in life it was the turn around point in my daily run as I escaped momentarily from the sadness of nursing my dying mum.
I still visit Brightway Corner a couple of times a year as it is very close to Russell Sports where the cheapest and best Asics sports shoes in the world can be found.
Brightway Corner stands on the corner of Gilbert and Oakover Roads and is directly across the road from one of my other favourite childhood memories, the building that was once a suburban cinema.
The Rivoli was built in 1936 and closed in 1961. I remember being taken to see a Mickey Rooney movie there in the late 1950s; in pyjamas of course.
The cinema would have had it’s own refreshment bar but I’m betting that Brightway Corner would have benefited from having it so close by and when it closed I can imagine the owner worrying about the effect on his business.
It survived and despite the decimation delivered upon the suburban milk bar by the advent of the modern convenience store, it still clings to existence.
Maybe it’s survival has something to do with the ‘old school’ gold leaf sign above the door. The sign would have been very expensive in it’s day and shows a kind of confident optimism from it’s owner that has proven to be prophetic.
Long may Brightway Corner shine.

Image

.

Image

.

Image

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

.