The Room – Now and Then by Alan Lovell

The exercise of the month this time was to describe a room in 2 different ways


I put my head around the door to the living room one last time before taking the house keys to the estate agent. It looked so different now, bare, empty and soulless.

But I couldn’t stop myself from stepping inside. It appeared smaller now and the wallpaper we had chosen so carefully in the early days was still there of course but now it was a bit faded and you could see where we had hung our various pictures. Without curtains the room was all so bleak and unwelcoming and seemed to echo what had happened to us. It was as if the fabric of the room could feel the lives of the people who lived in it. If they were happy, then so was the room, warm and alive. But when the love died the room cooled with it, as if waiting apprehensively for its new occupants.

Would it be a family, with children that ran around and made lots of cheerful noise? Or would it be a single person, or perhaps a professional couple that would come home late and eat out a lot. The house wouldn’t like that, oh no, it wanted to be lived in and appreciated for itself!

But enough of that, I turned around and walked out, carefully locking the front door with both keys. As I reached the end of the street I told myself not to look back………….but I did. And I couldn’t stop a small tear from sliding down my cheek.


And then

‘It’s not a bad size is it?’ she said looking carefully around. ‘And it still has the original iron fireplace and picture rails. I like that, gives it character.’

This was the seventh house we had looked at. Our flat was just not big enough any more with Michael now three and another little one on the way we really had to get a bigger place. But it wasn’t easy with London prices rising all the time and Jackie seemed to like this one even though the kitchen was a bit small and rather tired.

I’ve seen some lovely wall paper in John Lewis’. She said, and I could hear the excitement in her voice as she was starting to imagine how she could make this place a real home.

And so we made an offer, had it rejected and eventually paid the asking price. Moving day was predictably chaotic but my mum and dad helped us out with all sorts of things. My dad was a bit a of a DiY whizz and soon had the new curtain rails up. Then it was down to the chippy for a fish supper which we all needed.

Jackie bought that wallpaper the following week and then my dad was back again. He showed me how to match the patterns from sheet to sheet and trim the top and bottom with a Stanley knife. Useful things, parents.

We had the chimney swept and got in a load of wood and coal so we could enjoy a real fire in the grate on those murky winter evenings. There’s nothing to beat it really.

It probably took us about five years to get the house the way we really wanted it and by then we had little Josie to make our family complete. They were good years and I always loved going into that front room and playing some music or watching the Television, it was always so warm and comfortable in there.


I’m still not sure when it all started to go wrong between us. Josie was just finishing secondary school and Michael was away at Uni. Jackie had got a good job with a large insurance company but something about her was changing. Was it the pressure of home and work, or was it me? I really don’t know but she got really snappy and critical of everything. I should have realised that something was going on but I didn’t until she eventually told me that she was in love with somebody else and wanted a divorce. How could I have been so stupid? I tried to talk her out of it but it was no good, her mind was made up.

And so the awful process began and the house, the home we had lived in and loved in together, was put on the market. Nothing would be the same again.


About Rosemary Noble

Writer, author, amateur historian and traveller
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