Monday, 22 June 2009

Time passing, radio calling


My grandmother's house was mostly empty after she died. I went with my father to help pack up her things and move them. In a corner of the room near the window was an old radiogram and on top of it a globe of the world that had once been my grandfathers. I did not pay much attention to it at first, but when the rest was packed and the house was mostly empty, my father told me to sit for a bit and he'd go and get some sandwiches and drink. I sat on the floor with my legs stretched out and sighed. The packing had been hard work and it was a warm day.

For a while I stared at the old radiogram and resisted the urge to get up and twiddle the knobs and spin the globe. After a while, I must have dozed.

"Well at last he's asleep, I thought we'd never get to speak," a crackly voice murmured.

"It hardly matters without Audrey and Greg around," a soft voice answered.

"The son packed everything and this must be Audrey's grandson. The lanky-legged, skinny boy! Must be from his mother's side," the first voice crackled, a faint sound of violins and applause behind it.

"You're not tuned in proper," the soft voice said, adding, "He's skinny but he'll fill out soon enough."

There was a soft whistle and a crackle of static. The music faded and a rather prim young woman asked, "Are you sitting comfortably?"

In my half-asleep state I hmmed and shifted myself, raising my knees and resting my head on them without opening my eyes.

"Jolly good. Then I will begin."

It was a crisp, firm voice used to command children rather than ask them. But the voice crackled and disappeared.

"Now then mac, what are we going to do about all this, huh?" a low drawl of a voice said, echoing slightly in the room.

"We too shall be packed away and forgotten, no doubt. Remember when Audrey used to come in from work and you'd tell her the news?" the soft voice asked.

A crackle and an almost shocked voice, "Why certainly, why shouldn't I?"

"And she would spin me to find out where all the troubles of the world were happening..." the soft voice continued.

The play continued:

"Well anyway, that's all over. It was over a long time ago and we - we just keep moving on like - well like a clock ticking without knowing why.

And that's why Geoffrey, that's why I have to go away. I have... to go back to - Hatherley. It's where I belong and I can't be any part of this any more."

The music swelled behind the voice and her half sob. A door was heard and there was a crackling and silence.
Someone shook my arm and I raised my head to find my father smiling.

"You sleepy already? Here, I got us a pie too and some lemonade like my mum used to make me," he said.

I stretched and yawned. The room was empty but for my father, myself and the radiogram with the globe on top of it. I must have dozed and my imagination wandered. Still, I pointed to them, the sun through the window making shadows on the radiogram.

"Can I have those in my room - to remember grandad and grandma?" I asked.

He smiled and ruffled my hair, handing me the pie and sitting on the floor beside me.

"Sure you can, son," he said.


5 comments:

Peta @ Pippiwillow said...

Absolutely beautiful: Thank you.
Memories of sorting my Granny's house come pouring back through my sieve like mind staying long enough to invoke a smile and the smell of lavender. Nuff said.

madameshawshank said...

That one gave me goosebumps ~ sweet and subtle ones at that!

G, I took that at my brother's place. I'll be there tomorrow, and I'll make a special trip up the stairs and say hi to those two memory-filled pieces.

They will speak.

Griffin said...

This was an interesting image. It suggested more than it told. So I let it suggest and remembered old bits of BBC radio programmes too.

That 'Are you sitting comfortably?' was from Listen with Mother a radio show for children with a woman telling children's stories. It must have gone on for quite a long time as I remember listening to it when I was very little!

life according to celia... said...

what a beautiful story! thank you for telling it and thank you for stopping by my blog.

Erin said...

My house is peppered with sentimental items from my grandparents. My grandmother's old clock, with the irritating pendulum. My grandfather's toy cow, that I still look at and try to imagine him possibly being that young. Lovely story Griffin, wonderful muse Madame.