The living room

From the street the vestibule led into the living room through a door with fancy handles, both the same amber colour, but a different design on each side of the door.  One was cut with flat facets, the other with curves more like the petals of an opening flower.  The door had stained glass decoration on the window at the top, but didn’t let much light through as the vestibule itself was in shade.  Entering the room one was met by the smell of pipe and cigarette smoke.

The table was in the centre, with an old couch on the left against the wall.  In the left hand corner between the vestibule door and the couch was a door leading to the front room.  Beyond the table a door with a curtain hanging in front of it led to the rest of the house.  On the right was Grandma’s plain wooden rocking chair near the hearth and a light wood-coloured fitted unit consisting of drawers below and a cupboard above filled the alcove.  The fireplace must have been replaced at some time as it was fairly modern being low with light brown mottled tiles for the surround and hearth.  A small fire guard was used to prevent cinders spitting out on to the hearth rug.  In the hearth were the fire irons and coal scuttle.  Two cane spill holders graced the mantelpiece with a few ornaments which had been brought back from holidays, perhaps other people’s.  The spill holders had been made as presents by my younger sister and me under the supervision of our other Grandmother.  The table stood on a square wool carpet, patterned in the middle and with a border, as was the fashion.  Around the edges the tongue and grooved floorboards were stained black.  The radio was placed on the table near enough for Grandma to select her choice of station.  When it needed to be tidied away, it was moved onto the nearby fitted unit.

The shelves behind Grandad’s chair held the cutlery box and a very small selection of books.  There was a Bible and Ripley’s ‘Believe it or not?’  The latter came in handy on wet days when we read of unlikely records in all sorts of fields, people who had survived freak accidents, the strange customs of people in far away lands and so on. The clock in the living room had to be wound once a week.  It chimed the half hour and the hour – one chime for the half hour and one for each number of the hour.  If anyone lay awake at night and heard a single chime they would not know what time it was.  Between twelve and two o’clock there were three single chimes in a row!

The large sash window with a deep window bottom, ideal for a child or two to sit on was not immediately visible from the doorway, being set back the depth of the vestibule.  Comments were often made about us sitting in t’ window bottom.