The house of the rising sun


Every morning now I creep up early, into the silence before the kids waken, open the curtains in the front room and watch as the big winter sky brightens over the allotments opposite.  I watch as shadows take shape and eventually colour: the outline of barbed wire over the allotment gates; beyond the allotments, the chimneys and gables of a Victorian school; to the east, the distant minarets of a mosque stand out against the cloud-streaked sky; the copper beeches lining the allotment entrance slowly assume their tawny burnish.  Every morning now I watch and appreciate, because soon I will look out my front window and see only the front window of the house opposite.Sunrise over the allotments

My world has been falling apart recently.  Not in a dreadful, catastrophic way.  Rather, many constants are coming to an end, many big decisions are having to be made: a period of reassessment and readjustment.  It is just now starting to come together again.  I accept the inevitable losses and begin to look to the future with hope, to plan.

As you know, I am blessed with two amazing children.  I moan at them when they are running late for school and ask for a lift, but secretly I love to drop them off in town and watch them walk away chatting together, suddenly all grown up.  Generally, they talk of school gossip and of music, but sometimes they plot, and a seed previously planted led to my daughter having A Serious Chat with me over tea one night;

Mum, we need to move.

But I thought we were happy here…

No, you were right before, we should move.

I look at the boy, he nods his head.

But we can’t afford anywhere better than here.

So why don’t we rent somewhere?

Because we like the stability of owning where we live.

Well, Dad has just bought another house to rent out, I’m sure he’d let us have it as long as as we wanted.

I see…

I asked him about it, he said he knows how proud you are so he wouldn’t do mates rates or anything patronising like that.

Bless him.

It’s in a decent area, the house is a bit bigger than this but still cosy.

Hmmm… I was kind of banking on having the mortgage paid off by the time I retire. If we start renting, I’ll be renting forever.

That’s ok, by the time you retire we’ll have decent jobs, we’ll help you out.

The boy nods.

By then, you’ll also have families to support.

Oh no, I’m going to be career-woman-bitch-from-hell, I ain’t having no brats.

We’ll see about that.

Seriously Ma, you do realise you’re not going to be blessed with grandchildren?

Your brother’s a good boy, he’ll give me grandchildren.

Nope, he’s gay.

He is not.

Really, he’s all gossip and hairstyles, he’s my gay best friend.

Look, I’d be happy if he was gay, but I just don’t think he is.

Don’t you remember how happy he looked the first time he put on my pink Cinderella slippers?

You’re just jealous cos he’s always been better at walking in heels than you.


My boy follows the conversation, interested to discover what is to become of him.


(Happy New Year)


10 comments on “The house of the rising sun

  1. Sean Baker says:

    Hello Rachel
    Happy New Year! Very interesting post as ever 🙂 I hope your world isn’t falling apart too badly though. Just looked at some of your early posts – that Sarah Kay performance poetry was quite extraordinary I thought.
    Best wishes

  2. Sean Baker says:

    Yes, good festive season thank you. I’m starting an MA in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin Uni in Cambridge at the end of the month. Exciting!

    • That’s brilliant, you must be excited indeed – let me know how it goes.
      My daughter just got an offer from Anglia Ruskin, to study psychology. Looks like a nice place, plus you can go round telling people you’re studying at Cambridge!

      • Sean Baker says:

        yes that’s true. Also the course is full time, so I can say I’m a full-time student for the next 12 months. Good news for your daughter – funnily enough psychology was one option I considered when I started OU. Cambridge is a beautiful city, if she does come here, I’m sure she’ll love it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I really like that opening paragraph “.. big winter sky brightens over the allotments….shadows … colour .. the outline of barbed wire … allotment gates;… gables of a Victorian school; to the east, the…minarets .. … against the cloud-streaked sky; quite breath-taking. the sense of place is vivid and real. would love to read about the people who live and love beneath the winter barbed wire, minarets and victorian chimneys.

  4. Thanks Anon. Good to hear from you – hope you’re well.

  5. Sean Baker says:

    Hello Rachel
    Just thought I’d drop by to see how you are – disappointed to see there’s no new bits of writing! How’s U214 going?

    • Hi Sean, thanks for the nudge, been a little distracted recently, unfocussed.
      Are you enjoying your MA? Writing some good stuff?
      I heard Sally on WH recently, she sounded great.

      • Sean Baker says:

        Yes, MA is going well thanks – 2 modules a week: novel writing and ‘genre’ (which covers specifically horror, scifi, crime, romance, fantasy and romance). Learning a lot, reading a huge amount (genre has 13 novels to read in 3 months and ‘novel writing’ also had half a dozen recommended reads), writing a fair amount – wrote a rather sweet teen romance last week!
        Wrote a one-act play around Christmas which had its premiere last night at a local drama festival. Script was well-received, but the performance unfortunately was patchy. But we’ll be putting it on again at the Cambridge Drama Festival on April 30.
        Yes, Sally’s doing well – she’s off to Bologna this week for the International Children’s Book Fair, which is where her success really took off this time last year.
        Looking forward to your next post!

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