Writing 101: Size Matters – The House on the Corner

In response to Writing 101: Size Matters.

At twelve I lived in a pointy-roofed home on the corner of Bearsdown Road and Coltsfield Close in Plymouth, England. It had a gigantic swath of grass bordered by a concrete wall that ran at least fifty feet, and was favored by local hoodlums who’d hide their cigarettes under the loose bricks.

During this particular year, my Dad was away at sea with the Navy. My Mum continued making wine in the fermenters under the stairs, and at dinner times we’d turn the telly around to watch American sitcoms Bewitched or Alice.

It was the year that I got my ears pierced. Four years before the age my parents had originally agreed upon but with the authoritarian figure absent, it was easy to wear away at my Mum’s resolve.

That was a turbulent year. Mistakes were made by both of us. The best parts of it belonged with our cat, Jenny Muffin, who would snuggle with me under the blankets at bedtime. She’d curl up against my stomach and we’d both fall asleep warm and cozy.



DP Challenge: A Manner of Speaking

I should like to preface the following by informing you that at one time, I actually did speak this way. I grew up mainly in Plymouth, England and people from Plymouth are known as Janners. So here goes some phonetic Jannerspeak with occasional swearing.


“Ahreeet! Me nem’s Lisa, om eighteen and ah lives in Plimuff. Ah goes collij wiv me mehts and we haves a reet laff, we duz. Mind you, it’s borin as shite so we goes out on weekends, lyeek. Me meht ‘Chelle asks me, “‘ere, where you going to?” and argoes, “om goin’ pub” and she goes, “it’s orribow doen there, come wiv me doen Jesters” and argoes, “you’re fockin cheeky you are ‘Chelle, you just wanna see that byee, Darren!” and she goes, “ya tehhken the fockin piss or wot?” and ah gives her aggro but we goes anyways and ah tells her she’s gutta buy me fegs to mehk op fer it. So we gets to Jesters and ah says “‘Chelle, it’s dead in ere, innit” but she’s lyeek, lukkin for this Darren bloke so she ken chat him op, lyeek. Om gutted, oyam, so ah gets a pernoe and coke at the bar. Om finkin wot kinda meht is she anyways, flippin mentoe she is. Jes lygat, she’s gone and om finkin I can’t be assed! Then this bloke comes up, he’s reet bladdered alreddy and it’s not even nine o clock, luks lyeek ‘e’s bin on a reet bender. ‘Ee sez, “‘ow’s you? What’s yer nem called? You’re elluva gorgeous burrd, you are” and argoes, “fock off, you!” and ‘ee gets all gobby, sez ah wuz gaggin fer it so ah leaves and goes doen chippy, gets sum grub and tehks a taxi ‘ome. Ah seez ‘Chelle at collij the next day and ah give ‘er what for, sez she left me lyeek billy no mates. I sez “It’s lygis, you does it again and om goin’ out wiv Sandra instead.” And ‘Chelle turns around and sez “Nah. ‘e wuz reet gormless. Won’t ‘appen uggen. Fancy a bevvy later?” And ah smiles and argoes, “lovely jubbly, ‘Chelle.”

Take it as it comes.

I’ve lived here…


Plymouth, England

and here…


Charlottesville, VA

and many, many other places in between. Currently, I live here…



It’s been a gypsy kind of life, minus the caravan. Although, I’d love to have one of these…

Gypsy Caravan

…in my back garden, all nestled in some tall overgrown grass with some hollyhocks and foxgloves. Imagine lounging on the steps during a warm fall evening with a glass of chilled white wine and some noshy things to nosh on. Mmmm…

Anyhoo…yes, I’ve been picking up my stakes and throwing them down all over England and the United States. Made such a mess, you could probably track me down in Borneo if you wanted to. Not going there though, too many creepy crawlies.

My Dad was a Navy man, you see. British Navy, if you please, which meant moving from one Naval married quarters to the next, until I grew out of the primary (elementary) school years and needed a place to buckle down with regularity. And that’s how we ended up in Plymouth, England. Actually, we’d lived there twice before during our early years (that was a fun time – leaving a school at the age of five only to return five years later? All the kids I knew had grown up and around each other. Nowhere else have I ever felt quite like the outsider as I did during the final year in that school.)

Anyway, yes, during my secondary school (middle) years, I lived in that house in Plymouth for six years.

And here’s where I just blew my own mind across the desk. That is the longest I’ve ever lived in a house. From the age of twelve to eighteen. I’m forty-three now and the most I’ve stuck down roots in a house, not a town – a house or apartment…would be three years. Sometimes, I know my up-and-moves came from possessing a restless spirit. Sometimes it was circumstance; a broken relationship here, a job loss there, eviction notice or a condemned house (yes, that happened) – they all necessitated a move.

Just to backtrack a second, it’s probably safe to say that in my entire life, I’ve never settled down. My Mum’s marriage fell apart around the time that I was born (fabulous!), so was forced to find where she could in terms of housing. As a single, working mother in the early 70’s, I’m sure it was no easy feat. She’s told me over the years how she met my Dad (not my “step dad”, because he actually went one step further and adopted me) at a Halloween party when he was docked in Norfolk, VA and how she was sort of her friend’s wing girl, except it was my Mum who met her “One.”

So, at two and a half, I moved from the States to England. New Dad. New family. New environment. A lot to adjust to, right? Even as a toddler. These days, there would be much care taken for the well-being of the toddler and the family as a whole. But back then, there were no outreaches, no helping hands, no sympathetic groups. You had to get on with it. Stop yer grumblin’ and get to work!

Here I am now with two kids of my own; both in elementary school and one not far from the middle. I was adamant before the oldest started school that they would not be shifted and shipped around like me. That they would have a stable education and that they would grow up in one house. Images of my son bounding in after some extra-curricular activity, of my daughter standing on the beautiful butterfly staircase before going to prom…


…Yes, these very stairs. This was our house, the one we dreamed of living in until the kids went to college. Buuuuut….circumstances outside of our control forced us to move, and move, and move again. And, quite frankly, that gorgeous house should never have been ours. It was out of our league.

I know kids move around all the time. And kids are resilient. Kids bounce back. That’s what everyone kept telling me when mine had to bear the brunt of switching schools. They took the changes in stride, shed a few tears, balked a little in the mornings but on the whole, seven months in, they’re doing just fine.

I turned out fine too, despite the lack of concern for my true well being as a toddler and the subsequent trauma that occurred which might be a bit too personal for sharing. That, and I’ve recovered quite nicely from it so why dredge it all up again, right?

We have more house moves on the cards, I know for a fact and with each one, I become more weary; I wanted to plant those roots and watch them grow (excuse the French Kiss line) a long time ago. I actually really like where we are; it’s the first time in a long time that a place feels like home.

So, circumstance might have some control over the situation but how I deal with it and how my family sees me dealing with it is the most important thing. I just wish I hadn’t unpacked ALL the boxes in a fit of “Goddamn it, I’m fed up with living my life in boxes, I’m going to open up everything and put everything in its place,” when we moved in.