“To die would be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie,

Monday, 24 March 2014

First impressions.....

Continuing on from the previous post, I’ll recount my immediate impressions and thoughts as I started to explore my new home, the house on the seafront left to me by a distant relation I can’t ever remember meeting.

A bizarre sweeping swirl of emotions contested for attention as I stepped forward in the dark and somewhat dusty interior. There was a musty, dusty aroma of the unloved and of the forgotten in the air that lingered in my nostrils after I negotiated the threshold and closed the big old wooden door. The old flaking blue paint of the outside was carried through on the inside, although protected from the English Channel’s continuous onslaught, the shade was so much darker and therefore closer to what I imagine would have been the original colour when the first strokes were applied many years ago. I tried the light switch with little hope of illumination, yet my surprise was prodigious when a fraction of a second later a single old fashioned sixty watt bulb flickered into use. My eyes were immediately drawn to the long and rather impressive imposing staircase that was immediately in front of my half way along this entrance hall. Sure it was dusty and even from this vantage point I could see some of the banisters were missing, yet its length and width were remarkable and evocative of times gone by when the size of your staircase was a symbol of your wealth. I had an urge, albeit a rather childish one, to run all the way up the five flights and slide down all the way, I resisted, but only just, yet in the back of my mind I made a mental promise to myself to give-in too such urges before too long. I further explored the hallway, there was a dark blue colour painted upon the walls below a dado rail that ran just below waist height on all walls. Above was a dark murky green colour that first appeared to be paint, yet upon close inspection was some kind of wallpaper or covering that’s surface had been dimmed and discoloured by age. ‘One day I’ll clean that up to its former glory’ I said to myself, yet even as the words played out in my mind I knew in reality that a day for me to be cleaning anything to its former glory was a day that would be a jolly long way off!  The floor in the most part was left to bare floorboards, the wood was dark with age and decades of polishing or waxing, still managing to shine through a thick layer of dust. There was a runner carpet in the centre of the hall, this long thin strip of carpet was a deep dark red, with a swirling pattern of leaves, flowers and what appeared to be dragons. I let my eyes follow the hallway, to the bare wooden doors leading to who knew where and up to the ceiling. The colour was a rather non-descript mottled beige yellowish colour that could have been white or yellow originally. There were surprisingly few cobwebs, just a couple here and there in the corners and I wondered just how long the house had been empty. I knew nothing of this mysterious uncle of mine, so I had no clue how often he used this ‘summer’ house, it could have been every summer or once a decade for all I knew and it was this sense of the unknown that sent a shiver through me.

The first door on the left, like all the doors in the hallway had been left in its natural state, unpainted, unvarnished and unspoilt. The light wood grain showing through a thin layer of dust, for some reason my fingers trembled as I gripped the round knob and turned it gingerly. It opened freely yet with a slow yawning creek the like of which you hear in scores of horror films of a certain age that seemed to echo throughout the hallway. I was surprised that the room was appeared empty, save for a wooden sideboard along one wall and a bench seat in front of the window that overlooked the seafront. However as I stepped forward I noticed a row of hooks on the nearest wall behind the door, upon which were various coats, jackets and hats. Beside this row of outer clothing was a big brass bucket containing half a dozen or so walking sticks and umbrellas of various descriptions and styles. I allowed my fingers to stroke the back of some of the coats as I moved further into the room, noticing a row of shoes, boots and sandals on the floor under the coats as I did so. I think I may have even shivered slightly as the fabric tingled my fingertips, I was touching the past and perhaps it was a realisation that Uncle John had been a real person, that these were his clothes, his shoes, his belongings and that this was his house that caused me to take a sharp intake of breath. You see up until this moment, things had happened so fast that I had barely a second to consider this odd distant relative that I didn’t know or remember was more than just a name on a piece of paper, he was, or rather had been, a real person. He had had a life and part of that life had been here, in this house. I felt something well up deep inside me, I’m not exactly sure what, perhaps it was an ambiguous supposition that I didn’t completely belong here, that although I was now the official owner of the house, it wasn’t and would never really be ‘my’ house.

© 2014 Copyright Josh Jordan

Friday, 21 March 2014

Welcome to the seafront diary.

In forty-plus years of existing on this lovely big sphere we call earth and attempting to do that thing often known as ‘living’, I’ve think learnt a thing or two along the way. One of those items of accumulated knowledge is the proverbial adage to never judge a book, or anything else for that matter, by its cover, for things are never quite what they seem. In fact, from my own personal experience I’d hazard a wager that almost everything is different from how it first appears. Sometimes those variances are subtle whilst other times they are as obvious a politicians lies! Take a look at my house for example, number twelve Brunswick Mansions, for a start it’s not a mansion, nor do I ever think in any of its past lives it was what one might reasonably call a mansion. From the outside it looks just like any other house along the little stretch of the seafront, they are all very similar, dating back to the 1880’s and unremarkable and nondescript. Admittedly, unlike many of its close neighbours it hasn’t been converted into a series of poky one bedroom flats or grotty bedsits hardly big enough to swing a hamster let alone a cat by the tail. Nor have I elected to transform it into a funky boutique or classically cheesy chintz infested guest house, as seem endemic along this stretch of seafront. There are probably a number of reasons for that lack of action, most probably an apathy for ambition and a distinct lack of available funds head that list. My favourite excuse though is a lack of time, I’ve only been here just a little under five years. Now, I know that for most people five years is an awfully long time and pretty much most things can be done in that duration, renovate half a dozen stations on the Jubilee line, build an Olympic park, have four new year’s eve bashes and plan another for instance. However, none of those had me at the helm of the organising committee, if they had, well that would be a different story and they’d never have been completed. Plus I’ve not been the owner here all that long, a little over five years or so and to be fair, being here is not what I had planned out. In fact had I never planned to be a property owner, at least not in this neck of the woods or even country. To be completely honest with you I’d not believed I’d ever have been able to fund even jumping on the lowest rung of the property ladder, not considering the seemingly unending stream of dead-end jobs and temporary engagements that pepper my curriculum vita with a regularity that would have any self-respecting HR manager ushering me out the door and contention in a matter of seconds. That’s not saying I’m lazy or work shy by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just I somehow lack the drive, determination and ambition that you seem to need if you want to build and enjoy a ‘career’. Mind you, if you ask me I’d venture that careers are so over rated, I mean you spend all your early twenties, working your ass off doing the grunt work to build a career, in your thirties you start to make head way and earn promotion. In your forties you’re almost there, the top job is within your grasp, it’s got your name on it when along comes some fast-tracked pimply-arsed university high flyer and steals it right from under your nose and there you are, pushing fifty with nowhere to go and answering to some arse-wipe call Crispin or Quinten who hasn’t the faintest of clues as to what’s really going on. Alternatively, you do make it, you’ll reach the dizzy heights of the top of your chosen career, the top job, the big cheese, the man in control before your forty-ninth birthday, you’ll have a bald spot, a stomach ulcer, the a waist the size of Ben Nevis and you’ll be just one deadline away from a nervous breakdown or one board meeting away from a heart attack and either way you’ll be on the scrap heap before you hit the big five zero.

I had no direction, no career and no money and the idea of me owning a shoebox let alone a five floor seafront terrace property would have been preposterous beyond belief. I was working in a book shop three days a week in Exeter when I got a letter from some solicitor’s office in Milton Keynes of all places informing me that my uncle John had died and left me his summer house on the coast. Oh and also I’d inherited his collection of just over two thousand decorated milk bottles! My first thought was ‘what the fuck are decorated milk bottles’ and how on earth could anyone collect over two thousand of them. It was only after pondering those questions for a good five minutes that my mind pricked with the wonderings of who the heck uncle John was and where and what exactly the summer house was. After half a dozen phone calls to distant relatives and the Milton Keynes solicitors I learnt that Uncle John was a kindly distant relation that I once stayed with for a weekend when I was about ten and the summer house was in a sleepy little town on the south coast. Nobody could shed any light on why he’d left it and the bottle collection to me, rather than any of the other and almost certainly closer relatives and some were, to put it mildly, a bit peeved that such an inheritance should come my way.

I had to borrow the money for a train ticket from my boss at the book shop to first go to Milton Keynes and sign some papers and get the keys to the aforementioned summer house. It was then down to the southernmost part of Sussex to see this so called ‘summer’ house old Uncle John had left me. Now, I’m not sure what I expected as I headed down on the train, I remembered my mother having something called a summer house in our back garden when I was a kid in short trousers with scabby knees and a snotty nose, but that had been little more than a glorified shed with a couple of extra windows in it. No amount of wondering and guessing could have prepared me for the sight that greeted me when I turned up outside the address the solicitors had attached to the keys they’d given me. I mean if I was to say summer house to you, what would you think? I’d wager that a five floor six bedroomed pile from the 1880’s in a prime seafront terrace would not have jumped to the forefront of you mind. It didn’t mine that’s for sure, so much so that I had to check the address on the keys twice and then confirming with a passing old lady with a net shopping bag that I was on the right road.

There was some trepidation when I put the key in the lock, I thought it wouldn’t work, I had a vague notion waving somewhere from the back of my mind that this was some sort of elaborate hoax or wind-up, although quite why someone would go to such lengths to pick on me, was beyond my comprehension. With only a little resistance from an evidentially rarely used lock, the key began to turn and open the door of my inheritance, of my new home and in fact to my new life.

This blog is a tale of my new life.

© 2014 Copyright Josh Jordan

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Stolen words

Do you walk in beauty,  like the night?
Please tell me, for I’d love to know.
Can I compare you to a summer’s day, do I have the right?
Maybe we could walk hand in hand through a distant meadow,
Or down beside the lake and beneath the tree,
Would you allow me to paint your picture with bright orange poppies all around your head.
You’d laugh at all my thoughts, desires and dreams if I let them wander free,
Yet what else can I do when even my reality is equal to a dream.
I wish we could talk for hours and hours, there is so much to share,
But time is a gift so precious, there’s not a second to waste,
Oh this feeling that toys with my every waking thought is so rare,
Therefore it will not be something I’ll give up in haste.
These emotions are not new,  as all the world can tell,
Even the words that tumble here have been used before, second hand for sure.
But does it matter that, does it break the spell,
Of the truth that in my heart I could not love you more.

© 2013 Copyright

A Sunday poem