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Fifth writing prompt – 10 December 2020



The gauntlet was thrown down by www.janeishly.com. The challenge to pick a word from her teabag of the day courtesy of her tea Advent calendar and to write for a whole 15 minutes to see what you produce. I duly took up the challenge and am now presenting you with 5 minutes of unedited, undiluted insert epithet here in the comments. Please note: these are random musings and no facts have been verified!


Two words for me today: grandparents’ kitchen


I don’t actually remember my grandparents’ kitchen. And I never even knew my grandma, but I do vaguely remember the layout of the house and that the kitchen had a fantastic old-fashioned thing called a pantry. The pantry was a little room outside the kitchen with a marble shelf for storing things to keep cool. What I remember most about the house is actually the toilet. Bit of a strange thing to remember, but I can remember sitting in there and noticing the wallpaper hadn’t been properly laid (do you lay wallpaper?). It was rounded around the corners and little old me, being a bit of a scamp at the tender age of 5, used to poke my finger through the wallpaper to reveal the wall underneath. My granddad had a bit of a temper, so I’m told, but oddly, I never got into trouble for this. Nobody ever said a word. So, day after day, when I went round to my granddad’s after school (yes, these were the days when 5-year-old children wandered the streets by themselves), I would sit there and just poke, poke, poke.


The other thing I remember about the toilet is the paper. Well, I say paper, but I’m not really sure you can call it that. Remember Izal anybody? That stuff was the most horrible, stiff, sloppy, slimy, grotty stuff you could imagine. I recall pulling great wads of it off and crinkling it in my hand to try and get it to soften. It never did, though.


The other thing about my grandparents’ house was the garden. That garden didn’t just slope, it literally fell off the hill. Down at the very bottom of the hill was a chicken coop. Now, this is a secret between you and me, so don’t go blabbing about what I’m about to tell you. A huge tree grew just outside the chicken run, so what I and the boy next door used to do was climb up the tree, swing on a branch and let go to land on the roof of the chicken coop. Whoomph. Well, the last time I did this (and this is the secret bit), the chicken coop collapsed in a heap of feathers and squawking. Yes, I’d just single-handedly destroyed the chickens’ home. Another strange thing. Nobody said a word.


The chicken run was an exciting place, full of adventure and fun. I can’t actually remember the chickens (perhaps they were all squashed by me landing on them), but I remember a bright, shiny object that used to prop open the gate. Years later, I realised this bright, shiny thing was actually a bomb. Lordy, lordy, how I ever survived childhood is a mystery.


The sloping garden was quite a problem. The grass used to grow untamed as my granddad was quite old. I remember pushing one of those trundle is it? lawnmowers around. You know, the ones that don’t work with electricity. Don’t think electric lawnmowers had been invented yet. Gosh, that makes me old. Anyway, imagine being 5 and pushing that thing sideways on a hill. Can you imagine the state of the lawn after I’d done with it!


The front of the house was filled with what seemed to me to be towering rhododendrons. I can remember sitting beneath the dark, mysterious leaves and desperately rubbing two sticks together to try and light a fire. Never did, though. As you can probably guess by the very fact that I’m typing these words today.

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ANDREA GARFIELD-BARKWORTH

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