A bit of a break from the usual geekiness on this channel, it's time for some human nature stuff.
On Wednesday, I went over to England with my Dad in The Truck of Love (a 7.5 tonne M.A.N lorry, the story of why it's called the Truck of Love can wait). The purpose was to go to Worcestershire and clear out my grandparent's house, which has just sold.
These were my grandparents on my Dad's side (my Grandfather on my mother's side is still going strong, and we had Sunday lunch with him). We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Worcester, which was quite interesting as my aunt is as mad as a box of frogs (in a good way. In fact, that entire side of my family is eccentric, that's where I get it from. For example, my Uncle Bob *still* hasn't left home and he's well into his 50s. And he only has a motorcycle license, and about 10 motorcycles, of which only one is functional at any one time. Others on that side of the family are still living in the temporary buildings, as they put a new roof on the house. They started that job in the 1970s. Oh well, there's time enough!)
On Thursday to Saturday we cleared out the house. We got it mostly done by the end of Friday, and on Saturday just needed to vacuum the floors and close up each of the rooms.
It was then the sadness started. Looking out of the lounge windows for the last time, into the garden illuminated by the feeble winter sunshine, glistening off the damp trees and grass.
My grandparents had that house built for them in the mid 1960s. It's a modest bungalow in what was then a new suburb in a village near Worcester. My Dad lived there too in his late teens. I remember going there with a lot of excitement as a small child, playing in the garden that seemed like acres when I was small. And still seemed like acres when I had to mow it when I was in my teens, after my grandfather had a stroke and wasn't fit enough to do it himself any more. There were so many memories of hot summers, endless pots of tea, my grandmother trying to be like Hyacinth Bucket, my grandfather telling her not to be so silly... little things like finding the snow shovel my grandfather made (he went through several iterations of trying to design the ultimate snow shovel, the latest of which, with "Experimental Daisy" written on it in marker pen in his writing is still in the garage for the new owners of the house. I don't know why he called the snow shovel "Experimental Daisy"). It just brought back a lot of sadness that now the door is closed on that forever.
I think both my dad and I were twinged with guilt when we got rid of the terrible particle board furniture my grandmother thought was the bees knees (very 1960s "Space Age" stuff, and absolutely hideous) and all of that yellow and orange patterned stuff that was so popular in the 60s and 70s that my grandparents never got rid of. I can remember them having it when I was a few years old. We had to be brutal in what we got rid of, there was only limited space in the truck, and there was furniture that had to be kept.
In this contrast of 60s dross ("everything must be new", my grandmother had specified), was some of the furniture they had kept from their previous house. I now have the oak dining room set that they had made for them in the 1950s. It must have cost them a significant fraction of their annual income - given that my grandfather ran a baker's shop in Worcester (the type that has nearly died out now, where the owner bakes all the bread and sells it in the same shop, and it's a standalone family business run in a building about the size of a normal house). The dining room table and cabinet was made bespoke and is all hand carved. To get something made like that now would cost several thousand, in fact probably still a large fraction of a typical middle class annual income - it must have taken years of savings in the 1950s for someone running a small family business. I think they would like it that it is still staying in the family.
I also kept the radiogram (a record player and radio combined) that they must have bought new in the mid 1960s. I thought it had valves (vacuum tubes) but it's all solid state. The record player still works but I couldn't get anything more than hiss out of the radio. Unfortunately, the instruction manual (which it still has!) does not have a schematic, which is quite unusual as many appliances of that period came with schematics so that you could repair them. There's also quite a bit of hum, so I suspect the filter capacitors on the power supply aren't in all that good shape. I'd like the radio to work (to give you an idea of its era, the manual talks of an add on you will be able to buy if stereo radio broadcasting becomes a reality!) - hopefully it's not some unobtainable germanium transistor that's gone phut. It'll be good to get it to work as the radio for my retrocomputing room (although I'll need a short range FM transmitter so I can listen to BBC 6 Music)
The house is sold now, and it's the end of an era. I have the last apple I will ever eat from that garden in the kitchen. Perhaps I ought to see if I can get some of the seeds to germinate. I hope the new owners like the house and enjoy the big garden that my grandfather specified on the original plans.