I know I’ve written about this before, as one of the momentous conversations in my life, but it’s part of this story. I remember just where we were sitting and what we had ordered for lunch. Russell had just come back from seeing his mother and she had decided that she didn’t feel that she could manage the house and garden on her own, so she was going to move out. He just told me, he didn’t sound upset, but I knew he was. “You love that house, you’ll hate to see it sold. Do you want us to go and live there?” I hadn’t known I was going to say that, I heard myself as he heard me. “But you love our house.” “I know, but I’ll move if you want to.”
I can’t analyse that, I just felt it was the right thing to say and I meant it. Russell was thrilled and no more work was done that day, he went straight back to Ma to speak to her again. A bit worried at the momentousness of my offer, I said, if she doesn’t like the idea, if Austin or June want to live there…but when he came back, he said she was thrilled too. We went to see her together a day or two later and she said she wouldn’t have asked because she didn’t want me to be put under any pressure. She was kind and considerate that way.
She started looking for a new home, wanting to stay in the village, but there was very little on offer and nothing that suited. So, rather diffidently, she asked how we’d feel about her building in the garden. We thought that the tennis court might be a suitable site. Knowing that planning permission might be difficult, she investigated the possibility of a pre-fabricated wooden Colt house – but the planners said no, though we offered to accept a covenant on it, that it be pulled down when Ma died. So we asked, what would they accept? We had ample space, it was simply that it was outside the building area of the village. They said that an annexe could be built on, as long as it was of modest size and linked to the main house by a door. So the bungalow was designed and built.
In the meantime, our domestic situation had changed too.