Under the Floorboards

Sometimes I climb the walls and lie on the ceiling… and sometimes I slip through the cracks in the floor and crawl around under the floorboards.




A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do both.

That opportunity didn’t knock on my door so much as drip, drip, drip its way down through the ye olde style plaster on the kitchen ceiling, forming an ochre stain on the newly painted in Summer stark white.

“Are you sure it wasn’t there before?” my partner asked after I had pointed the stain out to him as ‘proof’ that there must be a leak somewhere (there, above us).

I paused, because I always do when anyone asks me something. Questions need to be chewed before swallowing or spitting out. If that question is questioning my certainty, a statement I’ve made… I am aware that my certainty has a tendency to be wrong, while my doubts have a tendency to be right.

“No, yes, that wasn’t there before… like that one over there or there, this one is new, freshly created, you can tell by the hue and the texture (time to climb the walls to get to the ceiling as this is one of the few high ones that can’t be reached while standing on the floor)…”

One of the things I discovered about this house while painting it white was that there are some areas which refuse to stay that way and so the walls and ceilings have character in the form of strangely appealing patterns of mysterious staining. Most of the stains are old ones seeping through – this is an old house, a hundred years or two have passed since it was born out of the hard blood sweat tears work of a builder of houses, many people have lived here, died here, maybe killed here, given birth here to other people and ideas of how this house should be (without always asking the house if it wanted to be that way – an error for which this house will make the most recent owner pay).




Since moving in here just over a year ago… thankfully the previous owner, just before he moved out passing the key to all loveliness and leakiness onto to us, introduced us to a rather good plumber, who came quickly and fixed a leaking joint between radiators pipes.

To get to that joint a floorboard had to be lifted.

And while it was up… the part of me which loves to know what is behind that wall which when you knock it it sounds hollow got to explore what lay beneath that floorboard which creaks when you step on it.

I couldn’t quite crawl under the floorboards but my camera could and what it snapped revealed some treasures posted through a hole by a lego and pen hiding enthusiast – maybe they were offering them to the Borrowers or fishing for something which crept beneath them at night when they tried to sleep… scratch scratch.

This find opened up a doorway, window, a crack through which the light gets in… or the dark gets out… into the past distant yet not as far away as it sometimes seems.

Once upon a time someone like me or not like me at all was in this room, called this place home, and the essence of who they were leaked out of them into the walls, floors, ceilings and being of this house.

When we move on… we always leave something of ours, of us, behind.