Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A Hand Downstairs

A woman is standing at the front of the close, "Could'je gie us a haun' wi a hingmy; it's too heavy fur us." Slight and wan, with tangled hair of dirty fair, she has an almost pleading look in her eyes.
"Sure, it's fine," I say and follow her into the close and up to the top flat. This close is narrow and dirty, smells of greasy dinners and stewed tea. All the way up she's talking, telling about the state of the house and how she can't get anything fixed in it and how she's going to find another place, but just got to clear some things first. "Ah've flung some stuff oot a'ready, but Ah want riddathis n Ah cannae lift it masel'."
It's a sideboard. We could lift an end each, it's not too heavy, just made out of kid-on wood, the veneer stripping off in places, chips out of it and handles of gilded plastic hanging askew.
She goes off to get a key from the bedroom and I glance around the livingroom. Various layers of wallpaper are on show, patterns floral, patterns striped, some areas stripped right back to the wall, some bubbled up by damp. 
"Ah've been asking to get us a new place but they're no bothered," she says as she comes into the room again, "See that," pointing to the door, "That wis him. Done in ma hale hoose n Ah cannae get them tae fix anythin." The door is gouged and scraped and a boot size hole has been kicked almost right through.
"Ma pal done this for me," she says, picking up a framed decoupage picture of a bunny holding three balloons aloft. "She done it in Cornton Vale. She died; good pal, good friend." I hold the picture and admire it.
"Is somebody taking yer stuff away?" I ask as we struggle down the last flight. 
"Aye, got it arranged," she replies and out we go into the sunlight and drop the furniture onto the kerb, right by a bundle of bedding that she'd taken down previously. The stench of it rises up as we talk; pale grey duvet, sheets and a blanket wrapped around a thin z-bed mattress. The stink is overpowering as we stand in the midst of it, me wishing her well with her move, her telling me not to worry, she'll get it all sorted out.

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