I imagine it standing empty, forlorn, waiting. The three bedrooms that overlooked a garden, long since gone; the living room with an etched mirror and a gas fireplace bracketed by horse brasses and brass candlesticks that I loved polishing as a child; the large kitchen and walk-in pantry, and the small stone balcony that hung out over the front, over the grass that was the green.
I may have it backwards. It's been a long while since I was there. But I can see it all so clearly if I close my eyes.
It's not what it used to be. It's a bit derelict today, from what I understand, less gentile than it was 40 years ago, when we were admonished not to run because of the Misses Rastrick who lived downstairs and were getting elderly, when a neighbour tossed "sweeties" from her upstairs window to my brother and I as we played on the "green" on those weekends when we stayed there, visiting Grandma and Grandad.
I don't even have a picture, only memories. Stone steps and a huge expanse of grass to run in, all the way down to the tunnels that ran beneath the busy highway. My grandfather's whistle-loud and piercing-that meant it was time to come back for dinner. Many, many happy hours spent outside in the front, or in the back garden, overgrown and charming with a pigeon roost and a high brick wall or sometimes inside playing with toys and books that once belonged to our own father, and listening to the adults talk over the sound of the horse jumping on the television, loud so my grandfather could hear it.
The Green, as we all called it, was a delightful spot to visit. And though I know it has gone downhill in the last 15 years, I remember it the way it was when we left England for Canada. Even when I have been back, the changes have been slight, but as I say, it has been some years now.
It has been there as long as I remember. Probably the most long-standing permanent place in my entire life so far. I wrote letters there so often over the years that the address is burned into my head and I never need to look it up.
No more letters to go there though, so if I seem a touch maudlin, that is why. My grandmother turns 90 this year, and she is fading in and out of her past, now knowing who she is and where she lives, and now not. Reluctantly, the family has moved her into a home. For a rest, they tell her, keeping the Green flat. For now.
But I know it's the end of our time at the Green. And that saddens me. For many reasons.