Monday, 15 March 2010

Return to 74

My Darling Eileen

We often talked about going back to Muswell Hill and walking down Onslow Gardens again, just as we did so many years ago.  Something to do when we retired, we agreed. 

Sadly, the way things turned out for you, we never got to do it.

So, as yesterday was Mothering Sunday, Charlotte and I thought it would be good to make the journey back to Onslow Gardens in your memory.

We drove slowly down the road.  When we reached '74' we pulled in and parked on the opposite of the road.  We sat for a few minutes then I got out, grabbed my camera and walked across to take some photographs.  

The front door is a different colour but that apart, the house looks much the same from the outside as it did the last time we were there, just after your mother died. 

Still the same and yet so very different.  So much has changed since then.  I realised that I was looking at the past, yours and mine.  

Just as we were about to go, a car drove past and parked a few yards down the road.  The driver got out of the car, walked up the pavement in our direction and turned in the gate of number 74.

I went across and asked him if he lived there.  When he said 'yes' I explained why we were taking such an interest in 'his' house.  I told him that you had been born and brought up in the house and that we were there in your memory, as you had passed away only a few weeks ago. 

He expressed his sympathies, then surprised me by asking what your maiden name was. 

'Linehan,' I said, 'Eileen Linehan.'   

'That's interesting' he said.  'When we moved into the house, the neighbours kept referring to the tree in our back garden as 'Mrs Linehan's' apple tree.  It's nice to make the connection.  It's still there.  Would you like to see it?'

He intoduced himself as Henry and invited us to come into the house and go through to the back garden.  Inside we met his wife, Honey.

He took us into that long, familiar hallway and led us past the front and back rooms.  Then it was down that short flight of steps, a quick turn right at the bottom and then left into the passageway to the kitchen.   

Charlotte was carrying the photo album I had put together for your 50th birthday, with all those photographs of you and all the family from way back, many of them taken in the front and back gardens of 74.

They were intrigued to hear about the history of what is now their home and see images of the house from the past and to learn about one of the families who had lived there many years before them.  I also told them how we had met.

When we went into the garden sure enough the apple tree is still there.

The garden now runs right to the bottom and is not split into two as it used to be when you lived there.  Beyond, there is still that lovely view of Alexandra Palace in the distance.

Looking up at the house from the garden...      

you can see the extension that has been added at the back with french windows and steps leading down to the garden.

Inside the kitchen has been modernised and now extends down to the these windows.  The old pantry and bathroom as you would remember them, have been turned into a utility room with a side door leading to the garden.  The old kitchen door no longer exists and the lean-to shed has long gone.

As we headed back inside I glanced up at number 72 next door ...


and there was what was my bed-sit room and the window through which I caught my first sight of that lovely 'girl in the garden' all those years ago.  The old sash-window has been replaced.  At least that should stop it rattling and leaking draughts the way it used to do.     

This is how the front room...



and the back room...

now look today.  Little has changed apart from the decor. 

Charlotte and I thanked Henry and Honey for being so welcoming and generous, in allowing us to look through their house at such short notice.  

I told Henry and Honey that my memories of '74' were of a lovely family home full of fun and laughter.  I said I hoped it would be like that for them.

As we left I was delighed to see that the front door is still exactly as it was with those lovely stained glass panes.  With the spring sunshine steaming through, it lit up the hall and my memories.  

As Charlotte and I headed across the road to the car I turned and took one last look back at the front porch of 74 Onslow Gardens.

My mind when back to the time before we got married, when you and I would spend many long minutes in that same porch, saying our 'goodnights' to each other before I headed home, either to next door or later round to Woodland Rise. 

Our 'goodnights' interrupted at regular intervals, as I recall, by your father, whose ploy to break us up was to put the milk bottles out - one at a time. 

What I wouldn't give for one of your kisses now.

Miss them so much, just as I miss you every minute that passes.

Will love you always

Trevor xxxx