Last night, or maybe this morning, I dreamed I was in the old living room of 74 High St. It was just as it had been when I was three years old. Sun streaming in through the first floor window. I was sitting on one of the huge, comfy sofas, the one with the white cotton cover. Someone who looked like a younger version of Mrs H, late of H………. Hall, was sitting in the matching arm chair in the corner by the window. She seemed to be in possession of the flat and she seemed almost willful in her inability to place me. My grandfather’s clock collection ticked away as it always had. There was Nana’s best china and a decent spread of home baking on the tea table.
I was explaining to this woman who I am and that this was the very room in which I’d taken my first steps. I couldn’t seem to make her understand that this was, in fact, my home
I explained that only I could possibly know all this stuff about the place. No one else would know that the shoes used to fall off the shelves of the shoe shop downstairs when my grandparents rolled the carpet up and held a dance. No one else could know that. There’s no one left who’d remember but me and her.
She was unimpressed.
“So you are Tommy Byers’ girl? My long lost wee Linda? Come closer”
I lent forward
“I don’t think so!” She yelled right in my ear.
“Ok” I said. “What about Auld Tam? I expect he’s still doing his rounds. Saturday around 5ish. Footsteps up the stairs from the front door. A rattle as the golf clubs and flat cap are hung up in the hall. Anyone daft enough to open the door to the corridor will see him in his full Edwardian golfing gear, every inch the headmaster off duty.”
She went white as the chair cover and whispered “It is you!” and she started to shrink..
Dreams. Mine are techni-colour, vivid, realistic and come with extensive plot lines, sometimes even subplots.
I was standing outside a very dilapidated 74 High Street and in my hand was the polished brass plaque. (I wonder what ever happened to that?) The one with “Thomas A Byers, Esq, Head Master” engraved on it in copperplate text.
I was crying.
Through my head my grandfather’s condemnation of his father rang
“A teacher is a man amongst boys but a boy amongst men” and my great grandmother’s dying words
“That selfish man..”
Just a dream. But the sense of loss has stayed with me all day.