Monday, 10 November 2008

I GOT AN AWARD !

I was honoured to receive the 'Superior Scribble Award' from Jay of thedeppeffect the other day.



This came as a complete surprise and I was so excited. I didn't realise that anyone other than family and a few friends read my blogs. Thank you Jay for making my day and for thinking I deserved such a lovely award.

Here is the next episode of my story:

OUR HUNT FOR A PLACE TO LIVE

Council housing-lists were a joke. You had to have lived in your area for ‘X’ amount of years to even get on the list, and then you had to earn points by being infirm, crippled, over crowded etc. My parents, with a family of seven children, lived in an upstairs flat, comprising three rooms and kitchen. They had no garden, no hot water and no bathroom, yet didn’t even make it past the first rung of the housing list. If having seven children and living in these conditions was not classed as a priority, what chance did we have?
We scoured all the newspapers and notice boards, listened-in on people’s conversations in the hope of overhearing news of empty rooms. We knocked on doors of houses that looked as if they had uninhabited rooms. Many evenings were spent just going from house to house, knocking and asking if they had any rooms to rent. It was like asking for the moon, and we thought we’d never get married. One week I sat and worked through my lunch hours, typing notices begging people to help us find a home, offering an invitation to the wedding as an incentive. We then walked up and down likely looking areas, posting them through people’s letterboxes. Needless to say, nothing came of this venture.
Arthur’s mother had a very old friend, Laura, who had been blinded years earlier and now spent all her days in one room, confined mostly to her bed. Although she owned the house she lived in, it was given over rent free to the Botacelli family. They were Italian Jews and I believed they owned a club somewhere in the West End of London. Mrs Botacelli looked after Laura and, in return, she let them take over her house. It war rumoured that she had left them the house in her will, for ‘services rendered’. Mum Chapman sweet-talked Laura into letting us have a room there. I don’t think that the Botacelli’s were very keen on us going there, but it was Laura’s prerogative.
In exchange for this accommodation, we had to be prepared, and indeed promise, to periodically sit with Laura in her room and chat with her. She was over eighty years old and completely blind, and we’d never met her before. Because of her blindness, her room was very dark and dingy, the furniture consisting mainly of a large, ancient bed and an old, upright piano. I would be able to cope with this situation quite well now, but it wasn’t an easy or pleasant task for a coupe of very young newly weds. However we were desperate and said ‘Yes, please’.
It turned out that the room that she offered us was a basement room that had been used as a cellar storeroom for years. It was dirty, damp, dark and full of rubbish. The room was reached by going down a flight of steps that were hidden behind a door under the staircase. At the bottom of the stairs were two cellar rooms and scullery of sorts. One room housed an even more ancient old lady called Miss Jones who was an old friend of Laura’s. Miss Jones owned an equally ancient cat, and was always boiling fish heads on an old gas cooker in the scullery. We were to share the scullery and cooker with Miss Jones. God – what a bleak, bare, basement scullery that was! The floor and walls were composed of stone and cement, and the walls were covered in peeling white distemper. In the corner of the room, next to the cooker, stood an old, iron bath tub, and a very old, butler sink. We didn’t grumble, we were just grateful that we had at last got somewhere to live and could set a wedding date: something we had never thought we’d achieve. From now on, it was all systems go for the whole family.

12 comments:

weechuff said...

Firstly, congratulations on that well deserved award!!

My goodness! I didn't know that you had gone to live in such an awful place. It sounds very cold and dismal. Like something out of Dickens! I remember we had exactly the same problem years later, when we were getting married and looking for a flat. One of the places we looked at had half the ceiling down, showing all the lathes and plaster. And it wasdn't cheap. Needless to say, we didn't take it! What an awful place London was then.

granny grimble said...

WEECHUFF
It seemed like heaven at the time, but when I looked back at it, it was awful. We were only saying last night that once we closed the door we were so happy! Do you know that I never once thought of spiders then (and it was a basement) but I wouldn't even go in it now!

Lynne Chapman said...

Really well done for your award - much deserved.

Your blogs are always extremely interesting and very well written.

There are often far more people looking in than actually leave comments, so you never can tell who is noticing you!

Jeanette Spain said...

Wow well done on your award you deserved it your blogs have been very interesting.
Like you say Leeta once you closed the door you were in your own world just the two of you.
Jeanette Spain

granny grimble said...

LYNNE
Thank you for those kind words. I feel that it is so far in the past now that only family will be interested!

Babs (Beetle) said...

In the 1970's I searched for a flat in London. I viewed the most horrific bedsits! Then in the late 70's I lived in a flat that was riddled with mice. They came out and sat beside you without a care, and they used to run across my bed when I was in it! Well, if it wasn't the mice, we had ghosts!

Lovely award ;O)

Babs (Beetle) said...

PEE ESS!

People enjoy reading most things if they are well written, but they seem to love stories from years gone by.

GoldAnne said...

CONGRATS LEETA SO WELL DONE AND SO WELL DESERVED TO A WONDERFUL LADY.
I JUST POSTED BUT IT DIDNT SHOW, TRY AGAIN.
MUST SAY THE BASEMENT SOUNDED REALLY HORRID ,AMAZING WHAT WE PUT UP WITH WHEN YOUNG AND INLOVE!!!
VERY PROUD OF YOU FOR YOUR AWARDXXX
LOVE ANNE

Croom said...

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S Leeta, well done on the award.

Oh Leeta, how could you have even considered living in that dungeon :O( Hope you continue the story, want to know how long you lived there, bet you had lots of ebie gebies.

So pleased we never had to rent a flat! Although saving for a deposit for a house as well as for our wedding wasn’t as easy as it sounds but we did it.

granny grimble said...

BABS(BEETLE)
It took a long time for the housing situation to get better. At least you got flats to look at albeit they were awful! TheY just didn't exist for us. Talking of ghosts, there lies a good blog for you to work on. You know, dartboards and gloves etc :0)

GOLDANNE

It looked wonderful when we came back from our honeymoon. But that is to come in another blog!

CROOM
We hated the house and the people who lived there, but it was our own little paradise condensed into one room! You were very good to manage to save up for a house. Not many newly weds did. Did Dave's family help, I'm sure ours couldn't!

Sandi McBride said...

Congratulations on your award...and I can't wait for the story to continue! I want to hear all about the wedding and the wedding guests, how you got along in that bare basement room the first few days, or weeks...
Sandi

granny grimble said...

SANDI MCBRIDE

Watch this space !!