I had this idea that tourists could visit people’s homes here in York so that they could get some idea of how we live.
It wouldn’t really matter whose home they visit, so long as the people living there didn’t tidy up before their visitors arrived and were willing to just be themselves while the visitors were there.
The smallest thing in a home has a story behind it. Each stain, blemish and crack holds fascination for those who are unfamiliar with English life.
A lot can be gained from watching English television programmes, but not everything. Dramas only give an idealised view of how people are and documentaries can only scratch the surface of what their everyday lives are like. Only when you visit a home can you have any chance of knowing the unvarnished truth.
I look around this room and I see many things that normally slip under my attention, but when I look closely and tap into my memories I can see twenty years of living, not to mention a whole bunch of loving too.
One corner holds a hand-cream dispenser that now holds liquid soap to wash the dishes with, a battered old tupperware-style tub that’s used now for collecting peelings and other biodegradable stuff that will go in the compost bin outside (it’s empty and clean now because I’ve just washed the dishes), an empty water-jug with a lid that looks like it came from a carton of ghee with two pine-cones from different trees, a hazelnut, a poppy seed-head and an acorn on top of it, a plastic bag that was used to deliver the box that contained the case that has the Bluetooth ear buds that are useless because the sound keeps cutting out every few seconds apart from this one time when my wife touched them and they worked for three whole minutes before starting to cut out again, a plug and cable for charging the phone that I’m typing this on, a tag from a pair of shoes that has a picture of a puppy (a Hush Puppy) that’s far too cute to throw away and so it’s blu-tacked to the plug socket, a cable for charging a Bluetooth speaker that’s in the other room to be used for a 12 year-old MacBook Pro that’s fine apart from that it overheats and one of the speakers crackles (hence the Bluetooth speaker), a smart meter that shows four mysterious green bars lit up to indicate that something in this house is using a lot of electricity constantly, day and night and tells me I have to go around unplugging things so that I can figure out what it is, a wooden tissue box half-full of tissues in top of an unopened box of tissues in top of a random Christmas napkin in top of a napkin I picked up in a restaurant in Venice that I told the owner of, almost two decades ago, that I liked the design of his napkin so much that I would frame it when I got home, a tray made of woven wire that must have held dates or something like that at one time, a stack of granola bags with ziplock tops held together by a bulldog clip because they are handy for storing all kinds of things and it’s better to reuse things rather than let them be buried in the land, a wooden tray that my mum made for us that nothing really fits inside and besides it looks more like a drawer, a set of coasters with smileys on them with one missing because it’s somewhere in the house protecting a wooden surface from getting wet rings on it from glasses of water or cups of tea, a small piece of tissue that escaped my attention until now (but now that I’ve noticed it will be gone soon after I finish typing this), an ingenious chicken thing that you hold by a handle and twirl around so that a ball spins and pulls strings that make the chickens peck at the seeds in the middle of the circular piece of wood that they are mounted on, and a piece of lightbulb packaging that’s being used to collect apple seeds that we’re going to grow an orchard from.
And that’s just one small corner, so what sane tourist could possibly resist visiting our house, and other like it, to learn about all these wonders and the stories behind them? Surely none!