Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Curtains - Hang Them Straight

17:22:00 Posted by Pamela Winning , , , 1 comment

 The Christmas tree is up. This year I’ve chosen our ‘pre-lit’ one, out of the three we have. I quickly realised how dimly lit it is and ended up patiently winding a set of lights through the branches to achieve an acceptable effect.  The exercise served to remind me that we were going to buy a new tree and brighter lights this year and that we’d kept the three trees in case either of our offspring, now living in their own homes, might want one.  Of course, they don’t. They have beautifully decorated well-lit trees. I can’t get this one quite right and I know I’ll spend the duration of its presence rearranging baubles, messing with the branches and twiddling the bead garlands. My family will humour me and share knowing looks, like my sister and I used to do with our dad. I take after my dad when it comes to perfectionism.

Dad might have had OCD, had it been invented in his day. Everything was ‘just so’ everywhere from the pub cellar, his office, his side of the bedroom. On his desk, pens were lined up in size order and the accounts ledgers that stayed on top were neatly piled with the largest underneath and the smallest on top. Each night, he emptied his pockets on to his chest of drawers, loose coins stacked in order, wallet next to his keys and wristwatch placed in the box bearing the jeweller’s name. His obsession with our curtains was far beyond his usual neatness and attention to detail and has been the subject of many a family tale, resulting in much laughter.

They had to hang straight and be gathered evenly. They had to over-lap at an exact point when closed and be symmetrical when open. Normal stuff that everyone does? Not Dad. He was way over the top. My sister and I have families who think we exaggerate things about our upbringing for their amusement. We don’t need to. We introduce them to a grandfather they were born too late to know, a witty, down-to-earth, hard-working man who loved us beyond measure. He would have loved his grandchildren with all of his generous heart.

Dad was old before his time. Years of running pubs took its toll and he suffered with arthritis and a bad back from heaving barrels and lugging crates of bottles up from the cellar. His pain or discomfort did not distract him from seeing to the curtains. Refusing offers of help, he would struggle to stand up from his armchair then shuffle across the sitting room just to straighten an edge of fabric or check the over-lap that didn’t look quite right in his eye-line. We’ve even stood there, in the window, putting the curtains how they should be, according to his instruction. That wasn’t usually good enough and he’d moan in a light-hearted way, insisting that he’d better do it himself.

  My sister and I didn’t dare to make eye contact at his funeral when the curtains closed across his coffin. We both expected to see his hands slip through to straighten the dark red velvet.

I don’t have curtains, but I’m fussy about which way my vertical blinds are turned.  I’ll have another tweak with the bead garlands on the Christmas Tree in a minute. What a pain they are. I can’t understand is how everything that was wrapped and packed properly last January could have become such a jumble? Maybe it wasn’t me who put it away?

My photo shows the bedroom window of an hotel where I stayed with my husband this autumn. It’s one of Dad’s pubs from my childhood and we happened to be staying in what was my parent’s bedroom. Not the same curtains, but I’m sure my dad would have stood at that window, surveying night-time on the street before pulling them across and straightening the drape.

A short poem for the father I love and miss so much.

Remember the curtains of gold

Draping over the window sill?

I really miss those days of old

And wish you could touch them, still.

A Merry Christmas to everyone and thanks for reading, Pam xx


Steve Rowland said...

Lovely blog, Pam. Very touching.