The Way We Lied

So far, the only indication that the greatest disturbance for nearly 500 years was imminent, was a large sign on the road verge. “Meadow Bank – A Quality Development of Executive Homes from Orchard Brothers – Building for Families and the Future.” I was doubtful whether executives and families were compatible, recalling the long hours my father regularly spent in his London office and the few hours he used to spend at home. How many times I had wished he could come to the school play or hear me practice the piano.
I was fairly certain that no one was here as the entire plot, including the lovely old timbered house, had recently been sold again for redevelopment. However, there might be a caretaker or watchman in residence, presiding over the desirable beams, the leaded windows, inglenook fireplaces and door furniture, of the kind so proudly coveted and sold at inflated prices in architectural antique centres.
We had heard that the house was to be retained, rather than rebuilt, but I could well imagine that today’s developers would look aghast at its brick floors, roughly plastered walls and draughty diamond paned windows. They would probably want to strip out every imperfect, irregular feature and replace them with accurately measured, weighed and treated modern substitutes. They would create a semblance of antiquity, which with its smoothness and perfection would feel artificial and sterile and so unlike the dusty, atmospheric home where we had once known real happiness.
As I walked up the steps to the stone path which led to the porch, I knew my mother would have loved to see that the box bushes were still thriving. Also the white rose, which she had introduced in her first year here, was showing healthy shoots and promised a mass of flowers for the summer.
The old lion’s head door knocker still jutted proudly from the studded oak door and I rattled it twice, its metallic rap contrasting sharply with the sweet bird song. In this rambling house I knew that visitors could sometimes wait several minutes for their call to be answered so I waited, my hand slipping to the trowel hidden in my pocket. And as I waited I prayed that I could do this today. There was no more time.


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