Sunday, 7 July 2013

The old dolls house

When I was little we had an old garage to the side of the house. It was built of stone and had a huge wooden door at the front, though it was boarded up so no-one had access. It held Mum's 'things' from a previous existence - a life before my younger sister and me. Two things I remember most clearly - a large, very old grandfather clock - dusty and intriguing, even then I knew it held stories. I just never was sure whose. The other, a large dolls house. It would be worth a pretty penny today, had it survived. I never understood why, still don't to this day (and probably never will know now), we were not allowed to play in there. Whether she was afraid the building may collapse on us (it was old)?

I guess, because access was denied (by almost unspoken rule), I never really paid much thought to what lay inside it beyond occasionally peeking through small gaps, but without much sunlight reaching its nethermost regions it was hard to see anything beyond dark shapes and the probability of large spiders, which I definitely didn't want to see. That is, until the day an annoying girl from along the road, one neither of us enjoyed playing with much (she had a habit of puffing talcolm powder in your face, or squirting air freshener or fly spray over you), appeared on the doorstep wanting to play. Perhaps Mum didn't know how to say no either, anyway, we ended up spending the afternoon with her. Deana Hill (I even remember her name) was the one who 'worked a plank loose' that day, while Mum busied herself indoors making jam tarts. We were able to peek inside this mystical realm behind the stone walled garage for the very first time. Deana, however, not content with just peeking, took it a stage further and squeezed herself through the small gap. Of course, now WE had to follow, if only to prevent her from walking off with 'Mum's treasures' (and yes, that was a distinct possibility). Oh the thumping of my heart as I followed her in, terrified of the prospect of being trapped inside there by an enormous spider guarding the doorway back out. There's probably some deep symbolism in that, given my childhood. However, that's when I first laid eyes on the grandfather clock and THAT'S when I first saw the dolls house. 

My sister and I would lie awake at night, talking about the dolls house. The miniature carpet sweeper, newspaper, bucket, mop, coal scuttle, mangle, jug, furniture we'd seen.... OH the hours we spent, dreaming up everything we could think of that could be in miniature inside that house. In truth, the dolls house would be rather disappointing in comparison with our imaginations, yet it mattered not one jot what was actually inside - for we were dreaming it up as we went along... 

What happened to the dolls house? Were we ever allowed to bring it indoors to play with?  No, and I've never understood why. Eventually, after one gale force winter too many, we lost part of the corrugated sheeting off the roof one night, and once that happened, the weather crept into it. The dolls house rotted along with everything else. Sad but true.

I've never forgotten, though, that 'hidden potential'... the joy of living your dreams as if they were real.