Jun 7, 2020: Seventy-Nine

It’s Sunday and that means fun fun fun with boxes and things and stuff and spiders in dad’s garage.

Carole threw me out of a moving car at 9am this morning to spend a few hours going through things of grandma’s and/or dad’s in our ongoing bid to get the garage to some sort of order so that we can send things to charity shops, recycling or just get a skip and lob shit in it.

We’re a long way from a skip, tempting as it would be to just get one for a weekend and go crazy chucking stuff in it.

I am slowly sorting things into themed piles – wood, metal, plastic, electrical items and that sort of thing – so that we can then better dispose of things appropriately.  There’s nowhere to put any of these collections so they’re in boxes which move with alarming regularity and are never where you last saw them.

But today it was tackling things inside granny’s beloved wardrobe which she made my dad cart up here when they brought her up and then basically denied ever either asking for that to happen or owning the wardrobe.

It was a treasure trove of stuff which it looked like my dad just threw in boxes when he was packing up her house, with a view to sorting out later. And then never sorting things out later because he just didn’t have the time, and then when he did have the time he got ill and shuffled off this mortal coil (or, as I saw in a letter I read today before binning it, he was “homecalled” which we assume to mean died but it was just such a weird way to put it). Today was a lot of letters, photographs of people we didn’t know and so many racist and/or sexist news clippings (not clipped for that reason, one assumes) that there’s only so many times you can say “the 1950s were a different time”.

For example, one clipping kept for reasons I know not why proclaimed that a house wife or mother needn’t get stressed on Christmas Day if she just takes the time to prepare for cooking the meal the day before.

The same clipping also had a recommendation of table decorations in the style of “Sambo and Mammy” which could hold your sweets or nuts. It was exactly as bad as you would imagine it to be.

Another liked a woman to a man’s pipe, something he cherishes and could give a “knock to” every now and again.

I mean… the 1950’s were a different time.

There was also an absolute corker of a round-robin letter from an unnamed writer which basically started off saying “I was born in 1925, and have lived with type 2 diabetes for 50 years of my life…” The letter, I think, was from the 90s, so the author was knocking on a bit.

In it he, I’m fairly sure it was a he, proclaimed he had received several messages via family members of deaths of some of his friends (among the 286 he regularly corresponded with). As such, this unsigned round robin would be his last contact with any of them, choosing to cease any contact rather than hear of any more deaths. It was a very strange letter. Made even stranger by the fact that it was clearly produced on word processing software which allowed you to add a joyful, themed header to the letter (as was the done thing at the time) and the best the “goodbye” section could cough up was some cartoon animals holding up signs saying “farewell”.

It’s been a strange day digging through that stuff.

And then we found a letter from my dad, written when he was a child, thanking parents for party he had attended.

He ate, he wrote proudly, 24 sandwiches and 3 cakes.

The mind boggles.