Monday 4 December 2017

Domestic and urban history

came at me two ways yesterday. There was a very interesting note on social media by Anne Rooney about Boswell and his expenses. These included the cost of eating his dinner in the "house of a good family". That answered a question I had sometimes wondered about  - the way in which some people got their main meal if they didn't go to a tavern. 
The other was an equally interesting comment by someone on this blog. She was regretting not keeping a note of the changing of ownership in the local shops.
I have sometimes thought about this in another way - although I haven't actually regretted not noting it. There is however something I have often thought about it. 
My journeys to the shops, the post office, the bank, the local library and the local railway station all take me along the same route. I have been doing the same journey for thirty-three years now - ever since my parents moved into this house. Of course I went away and came back over that time. I spent only university vacations here - or time between moves - until my mother died and I moved in with the Senior Cat. (I love him to bits but he was quite incapable of caring for himself even then.) Since then I have done the trip on an almost daily basis.
I have observed many changes. Houses have been pulled down and usually two have been built in their places. Other houses have been renovated.  Some of the older residents have died or gone into nursing homes. Others who were younger and more able have become frail and now leave their prescriptions for me to collect from the letter boxes. Pets have gone and new pets have taken their place. Children who were mere babies and toddlers now come back to see their parents with babies and toddlers of their own. Trees have grown and gardens have changed. There are now Christmas lights in the house where the Exclusive Brethren family once lived. The new family from India has settled into their house on the street next to the railway line and put up some Christmas decorations - because their children want to join in.
And yes the shopping centre has changed too. There was a fire there and part of it was demolished completely. The owner took the opportunity to remove some businesses and put in some more "up-market" shops. I don't know how they make a living. I still miss going past the place where one small shop was and having the sole worker in it say to me, "Cat can you possibly..." and I would get her some milk or "mind the shop" while she dashed to the toilet or the bank. On the very rare occasions I bought anything there I would be given a small discount in return for my help. The useful men's clothing and underwear shops have gone but the bookshop moved location and is bigger these days. There have been groups meeting in there ever since, knitting, embroidery, book and young writers' groups which add immensely to the value locals place on the shop.
The post office has moved location twice. I no longer have to struggle to reach the top box when I empty C...'s box because he and Miss W are away.
The library was extended - and now it is going to be extended again. 
And nobody sells tickets at the railway station any more. At least  that looks the same. It's heritage listed.

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