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3. Tell me about a house that was important to you when you were a child.
My great aunt's house was mysterious and fascinating and I loved going there. I always wished I could live there. It was in the middle of a Victorian terrace, with green paintwork on the outside, and lots of rooms on the inside. We (my sister and I) were hardly ever allowed in the front room because it was laid out for best with a big posh wooden table and lacy tablecloth and candlesticks and silver and pictures of people I didn't recognise but was undoubtedly related to. The middle room was rented out to Mrs Riordan and you had to be careful not to press the wrong doorbell when you arrived because no one was to disturb her.
My great aunt lived mostly in the back room and the scullery which was a tiny kitchen with no fridge. The toilet was outside and we tried never to go in there because of the spiders. It was quite cold in winter, and there was a gas fire, but you could never get anywhere near it because of Mitzi, a black and white cat who didn't like children. She didn't like anyone if you ask me.
Upstairs there were several bedrooms, one with a bath in it. There was a 'new' indoor toilet with a bench seat that, in retrospect, looked like a medieval garderobe! At the end of the landing was my aunt's bedroom. At the front of the house it had a view over the busy main road. Sometimes she used to sit in the window doing her sewing and looking out. She used to make lavender bags. Once I sat with her. I can't remember where my mum was at the time.
Next to the bedroom door was an alcove with a curtain pulled over it. Behind the curtain was a little stairway. This led to the attic rooms which were dark and full of stuff, with a tiny tiny window. There was also a cellar where we probably were allowed, but didn't want to go on our own, and Mum wasn't coming with us so that was that.
There was a long garden at the back. We spent loads of time there playing with the lawn roller, picking up apples and looking at the millions of flowers that grew in the borders, on the stone walls and even out of the hollow stump of a tree. My great aunt had very green fingers and a very soft wrinkled face. She had a son, who I never met. When she died, well into her nineties, she left the house to him and it was sold. Sometimes, very occasionally, I go past it on the bus and I always look. It isn't green any more.