This is the house I grew up in. 9 Ham Lane, Lenham, a smallish village in Kent. I know that to many Americans the word ‘village’ conjures up images of thatched cottages and duck ponds and vicars* so the house you see in photo might be something of a disappointment. I know, I felt the same way.
We sold the house just over a year ago, the proceeds funding my mum’s new life in the home for the demented. It was bought by the Campbell family (no relation to soup), whom I vaguely recall because their dad was the village policeman during the 1970s. Not sure which of the Campbell offspring bought it, but both were a bit common and frankly anyone that stayed in the village after leaving school was peculiar and suspect.
I’ve made three trips back to see my mum since we sold the house that she spent 42 years in, raised two kids and three dogs in, that her husband died in, and where Alzheimer’s gradually robbed her of her memory, safety and ability to take care of herself. So, no guilt there then.
On none of those trips have I been back to the village, even though it’s only a 10 minute train journey from the home for the demented. But this time I’m going back. I need to see the house. I need to see the garish changes the Campbell’s have made to the place. No doubt they’ll have replaced the rotting front door and the crumbling window frames. Poncy gits might even have taken down the lace curtains in every room that were a lovely shade of grey and smelled of moth balls no matter how often they were boiled. I’m sure there’ll be plenty to roll my eyes at in disgust.
I leave in a week and I can tell that it’s time for me to go. It’s not so much extra sensory bollocks as it is the fact that I’m simultaneously mad at the world, feeling lost, prone to bursting into tears and spoiling for a fight. Lucky Erik.
Something about going back to England reminds me that I am still an outsider here. Even after 12 years. It’s all well and good having an accent that everyone thinks is ‘so cute’ (must you perpetuate such stereotypes?). But it’s not much use when people can’t understand what I’m saying. But you don’t want to admit to that do you? So you just smile and nod in response. And then I just smile and nod back because I’m too lame to ask you if you actually understood what I asked.
So off to England I’ll go. To spend a week visiting my mum in the home for the demented, with a side trip of house stalking. And when my mum points out the cabbages she’s wearing on her feet and tells her best friend that I’m her sister, I’ll just smile and nod and pray that she never asks about 9 Ham Lane.
*Lenham does have a vicar. Called Nigel. He’s visited my mum once. The Roman Catholics have since weedled their way into the home for the demented.