Tuesday 24th November
Number 14 – St. Mary’s Road, Leyton – Why Leyton? Well, Louise had already bought a flat here and liked the area. She sold the flat and together we bought our first house. It was a mid-terrace late Victorian three-bedroom house. An Indian family had lived there before us, and they left it in quite a state; there was a live gas pipe taped up in the kitchen and under the carpets was old lino almost rotting in place. But we turned it into a really lovely house. A new kitchen and a lot of decorating later and it really looked good. We fell in love with Laura Ashley wallpaper and paint, and used it every room. We lived there for five years and Lydia was born and Justin left home there. It was okay really, though Leyton left a lot to be desired. After a few years we decided to buy something a bit grander.
Number 15 – Colchester Road, Leyton. The road was smarter and the house was Edwardian and quite imposing with a lot of the original features, but either hard-boarded or painted over. It seemed ludicrously expensive at the time and we really stretched ourselves with the mortgage. It had four bedrooms and two living rooms and a large if old-fashioned kitchen. I ended up living here for nineteen years, after two years Louise decided she wanted to be on her own, so I borrowed some more money and bought her out. I spent a few wilderness years here on my own, for a while my son and his girlfriend came and lived with me, and my friend Robert was a lodger for a while too. I spent years decorating or renovating the place, sanding down every available bit of original wood in the place, including all the skirting boards and stair treads. It did look good in the end, but I wonder if all that work was just me trying to fill in the loneliness with something. Sandra moved in with me but after six years that relationship ended too, and I put the house up for sale. The day I moved out I never looked back, I was never so happy to leave a house – too many bad memories.