Academic journal article Hecate

Nana's House

Academic journal article Hecate

Nana's House

Article excerpt

Grandad was always up to watch the sun rise,

his brown bakelite radio on with the news.

Beside it sat a tiny gnome smoking on a clay log.

'Eat your crusts, they make your hair curly,' he

said. Scared off, I would leave the crusts.

At twenty, after a haircut, half my straight-haired

mother's hair went curly. She went home and

washed it and the other half curled too.

I did not want this to happen to me. In the

bedroom Nana had the high, iron, narrow bed

and Grandad the low, wide bed. Nana's bed was

painted pink and Grandad's white. Nana

had meatsafes in the back shed to keep her

paints in. A painting of black bulls slowly cracked

in the back of the washhouse. Grandad's tools

hung on boards with hooks in the garage. Our

playhouse was an old bird aviary dragged from

the farm. I had to hold my nose and close my

eyes when cleaning away the old seed and shit

with my aunt. In the garage were boxes of my

uncle's old marbles: cat's eyes, spaghettis,

Tom bowlers, and rubber stamps with letters and

fairies and horses, and a child's bakelite teaset.

'It's not plastic,' I insisted. 'It's thick and dappled

and not made in China,' I said at seven years old.

We had to wait for things 'dreckly' and 'not make

a din'. The floorboards creaked and gave us away.

In the block behind the house in the town I looked

for where rebel chickens had hidden their eggs.

Nana hung her fur stole with glass eyes and real feet

with claws over door handles and I could not bring

myself to open them. 'Don't care was made to care.

Don't care was hung,' she quoted. And I said, 'Well,

I like Ned Kelly. He was a hero.' 'Put on your glad

rags, mum,' Grandad said, after moving a mattress

with rusty marks on it and saying she was getting

rusty too. In the sleep-out old dresses hung in

zipped-up plastic bags. A black Singer sewing

machine rested upside-down. Our aunt cut up and

sewed Grandad's felt prize-ribbons, of red and blue

sashes for his sheep and lambs, into soft toys for

us. Inside, reaching for a book, I fell off the woven

stool the blind man had made and knocked myself

unconscious. One afternoon trying to be quiet in

Mum and Nana's 'have a spell' rest time, but unable

to take afternoon sleeps, I crept in the kitchen. …

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