There was a precious time when all the town would join together in harmony. Voices would rise in melodious song. It was a beautiful summer of mystic moons and comfortable laughter. There was dinner for anybody who came a-knocking, nobody was left alone.
Hello, weary traveller, come and rest your tired bones on my living room chair. The children might dart about you chasing each other, there might be a bit of a mess here, but the meal is warm, and our hearts are open.
There was a time when pots boiled merrily, and food was blessed, so no matter how many people shared a meal, there was plenty to go around.
“Come in,” the older lady would say, throwing a scarf around her neck. Her eyes, behind large glasses, smiled kindly at everybody under hair that was more black than silver in those days. Her door was wide open, her home a refuge for broken hearts and sad faces.
Her kitchen was warm, her cooking was hearty, her house was full of love and life.
When the children came to stay, there were biscuits in her cupboards. Toys were strewn about the house and in the garden. Chubby fingers snatched at her precious herbs and mixed them in with murky water and stones to make a broth which they never ate. Snails were raced up red brick garden walls. Trees were climbed, moths captured, spiders let out to scuttle away amongst the garden cracks. Jammy dodgers stuffed into sticky mouths, a small little boy with the hoover head walking around the house ‘hoovering’, while the others darted over him. Mornings spent watching Teletubbies while she pottered about in the kitchen. Evenings we watched as she knitted in her favourite chair by the window, her roses nodding cheerily outside, as twilight hung over the world, and the street lamps lit up one by one.
The neighbour came to stay in one of the bedrooms for a while, a large old mirror pocked with age spots leaning against the wall.
“Hello, yes, they’re re-doing my house. I’ve got to book a BnB.”
“Don’t you dare, dear. Stay with me.”
The old lady from three streets away dropped in on her way home from the shops.
“My daughter can’t make it to see me,” she sighed, over a mug of steaming tea. “She doesn’t have time for me anymore.”
“Stay here for dinner.”
“Oh no, I’ve bought me ingredients already”
“Yes please!” the children chimed in.
She stayed. She was cackling by bedtime, the children sat around the table avidly listening to her tales of funny people she met at the airport.
“Come on kids, time for bed”
They didn’t want to go. She looked so pleased.
All the hearts were hugged in that house.