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Posts tagged ‘Daily Post writing challenge’

modern families – shocking

The Daily Post recently provided us with this prompt: “If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?”

“Marianne Colston is coming to dinner”
“how’s she getting here?”
“I don’t know; she’ll probably get herself driven over”

Marianne arrived in a chauffeur driven car. The journey hadn’t been too exhausting, she said, unlike many others she’d made in the past.

Over dinner, served in my parents’ living room-kitchen-dining-room-all-rolled –into-one, she regaled us with anecdotes of her travels. She and her husband had set off on a European grand tour the day after their wedding, in November 1819, and her daughter had been born whilst they were travelling in Italy.

She was a keen and curious traveller delighting in meeting new people and visiting all manner of monuments which she described in her journals. She was also an accomplished water colourist, as so many ladies of her generation were and published two volumes of her illustrated travelogues.

Whilst she admired the speed and comfort in which it was now possible to travel, she lamented the fact that so much green space had disappeared and how large cities and towns had become great anonymous sprawls inhabited by too many people less fortunate than herself. She also deplored the fact that nobody today dresses for dinner.

At the end of the evening she said, “I have enjoyed myself enormously and the food was delicious. Please give my compliments to your cook”. “We don’t have a cook” I replied, “my husband cooked the meal”. There was a stunned silence.

Marianne Colston nee Jenkins was born in 1792 and died in 1865. She married into a wealthy family and would have lived a life of comfort and privilege surrounded by a number of servants.
She died a few years before the birth of Emmeline Pankhurst whose campaign for votes for women would change the lives of women forever.


You can read more about her here

Daily Post weekly writing challenge: through the door

The door to your house/flat/apartment/abode has come unstuck in time. The next time you walk through it, you find yourself in the same place, but a different time entirely. Where are you, and what happens next?

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I left my parents’ house early that morning, carefully locking the door behind me as they are elderly and I do not like to leave the front door unlocked. I was off to try and find the Café des rêves (the Dream Café or Café of Dreams), a very special café my sister had told me about. When I eventually found it, it was all that it promised with its shabby chic décor and vintage clothing. I was transported into another world. I enjoyed drinking a decent cup of coffee from a one-off antique cup and saucer. I was so contented, sitting in the corner by the window watching the world go by, that I didn’t realise how fast my self-allotted time had passed and I had to hurry to get back home in time for lunch.

As I went through the front gate and up the path to the front door I thought that the garden had changed, there were plants and trees in it that weren’t there when I left. Even the colour of the front door was different and the door knocker wasn’t the brass dolphin I was accustomed to seeing. On each side of the door was a door bell. Under one, on an embossed brass plate was inscribed ‘night bell’ and over the other ‘day bell’. Paint was peeling on the frame round the door; which surprised me because usually my father was meticulous about the upkeep of the house.

I opened the door with the key I’d borrowed from my mother and stepped into the hall. Gone was the Venetian pendant glass lamp, the prints depicting the city of my birth a century ago, and the vase of daffodils on a small occasional table. Instead there was an old brown carpet with an indistinct pattern on it. The house was quiet but then the house was always quiet so that didn’t bother me but at least the house usually felt lived in.

I went down the short flight of stairs to the living room and almost bumped into the door, which no longer had glass panels in it. Inside the room was bare. A yellowish floor covering marked out in cracked and lifting tiles greeted my eyes. The large glass-fronted dresser containing my parents’ prized collection of Spode china was empty and was painted in a dull red paint. My father had spent hours with a blow torch and a paint scraper painstakingly scraping off the accumulated layers of paint and grime to reveal the surface of the plain wood underneath.

The adjoining kitchen was bereft of life and furniture too. I climbed the back stairs to what I knew as the guest bathroom only to find another bare room. It was the same in the other rooms in the house the higher I climbed until at last I reached the top floor where my parents slept. In the middle bedroom there was a bed, a chest of drawers and a chair. Next to the window there dangled a long tube made of fabric-covered metal mesh with a sort of funnel at the end. The house had formerly belonged to a doctor and she had used the speaking tube, for this is what it was, to communicate with patients who might pitch up late at night, hence the night bell for there was a funnel above that too.
On the floor was a large Moses basket. I knew where and when I was then. I was in the house when we moved in. I was only 6 months old and still small enough to sleep in one of the drawers from the chest. I would sleep in the Moses basket in a couple of month’s time.

It was strange to be in the house with almost no furniture in it. In the present day my parents were slowly divesting themselves of unnecessary clutter with a view to having to downsize at some point in the future if their state of health so dictated. The circle could soon be completed.

Read what other people discovered through the door