Paul and Betty held hands as they stood on the pavement looking at the door. They’d waited over two years for this moment, two years of no privacy, two years of never being allowed to be the married couple that the piece of paper proclaimed them to be.
They were grateful, and Paul’s family were fine; but Betty had married Paul, not his parents, nor his little brother, and definitely not the interfering bossy older sister!
But they were here at last, two years of saving, of planning and preparing. And now it was theirs.
Taking a deep breath Paul stepped forward. “Are you ready?” he asked.
Betty could only nod, too excited for words.
“I should carry you over the threshold” laughed Paul, swinging her up in his arms. Staggering slightly, and attempting to get the key in the door, they prepared to start their new life.
Finally, finding the hole, Paul turned the key and pushed open the door. “Alright…this is it!” He laughed.
The hallway was dark and narrow with the stairs almost reaching to the front door. There was no carpet, just well warn polished wood on the stairs and checked tiles on the floor. The walls were painted, a deep brown below the dado rail, dirty cream above. There was no bulb in the light fitting and the Bakelite switch, sitting redundant on the wall, reminded Paul of one of the many jobs on his “to-do list.”
Two doors led off the hallway, one to their right leading to the parlour and one at the bottom of the corridor opening onto the backroom with its little lean-to kitchen, or as the brochure informed them “the cosy kitchen/diner.”
The back room looked like something from a history book, even boasting an old black-lead oven. The tiny kitchen had no units, just an old stone sink and cold water tap. No carpets here either, just a red tiled floor. “I love it already” grinned Betty, now firmly back on two feet. “Can’t we move in now?”
Paul grinned too, “I can just hear Joan’s comments” he laughed mimicking his sister, “You can’t possibly move in there until it’s finished…….unthinkable, why it doesn’t even have indoor plumbing!”
“So…….shall we?” tempted Betty
“Yes!” laughed Paul, “we can move our things over in the van, it’d be so good to be on our own”
Betty took the ring of keys from Paul and headed to the kitchen, “I want to look outside” she informed him. I need to inspect our ‘outdoor plumbing’”
The yard was narrow and paved. At the bottom was a washhouse with an old furnace and copper, and next to it, the toilet. Lifting the latch Paul looked inside. It was old, with a high system and wooden seat, it was also filthy. “Yuck” shuddered Paul,” I think installing that ‘indoor plumbing’ is a priority!”
Giggling like children they turned back to the house. “Hello” said a voice, “Are you the new owners?” asked an elderly lady leaning on the wall.
“Well yes, yes we are” replied Paul, reaching out to shake her hand,“I’m Paul and this is Betty, pleased to meet you”
“You can call me Mrs Earl” she said, rather harshly, ”I hope you’ll be in keeping with the neighbourhood,” she added.
Looking puzzled Betty shook hands with Mrs Earl, “In what way?” she asked.
“Well to start with, these houses have always been painted green” she informed them, “but those dreadful people at number 6 have broken with tradition”
Trying hard to look suitably horrified Betty assured her that they’d be the perfect neighbours. “Well, good to hear it” signed Mrs Earl and headed back into her green house without even saying goodbye!
Paul looked astounded at Betty “So, little miss perfect,” he teased, “what colour are
Betty, trying really hard to keep a straight face answered “Well, green of-course”.
Laughing, Paul kissed her, “liar”
“Well….green…..with maybe just a hint of…orange” she winked.
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