If you haven’t already, you might want to read part 1 before reading this.
Somehow we managed to clean the flat up and make is habitable. Once we got our furniture in, it looked OK, though not as nice as our first flat. We had made all our furniture to fit our previous flat and these rooms were much larger. Still, it didn’t look bad. It was modern funky sixties furnishings and it brightened the place up – at least for a while.
Friends of ours were looking for somewhere to live and as we had a spare bedroom, Jim suggested they move in with us. A few months after Jim and I had moved in, there were four of us. I would later realise the mistake in this, but it was fun for a while.
It wasn’t long before we decided to investigate the bottom half of the house. All four of us descended the stairs with a certain amount of childish excitement.
It was vary dark and dismal downstairs, and for some reason, and to our disappointment, the doors to the rooms were all locked. We did find one door that wasn’t locked, so we all crowded round with anticipation. It opened at the top of a flight of stairs going down into a dark cellar. We switched on the light and were totally amazed at the size of it. It had been a massive games room. Right in the centre was the weirdest, full sized Billiard (Pool) table. It had been built from trees. Four large tree trunks had been cut to size and laid on their side with the large twisting branches trimmed neatly to the same height. Perched on top of what looked like a lot of arms, was the flat table top. It looked quite grand, but very creepy. The cues and balls still lay on the smooth, green table.
There were boxes, stacked high, all around the walls. The two lads immediately made for them, wondering what they might find. Jim pulled out a large bag from inside one of the boxes and opened it. He tossed it down in disgust, when he discovered that it was full of human hair!
As if that wasn’t unnerving enough, somebody said “Oh my word! Look at that!” I was already feeling a little nervous by the hair, but I looked. There was a dart-board on the wall. The kind with doors that you open to keep scores. The darts were still in the dart-board, the doors were open and scrawled, in white chalk, on the left was the word ‘Me’ with the scores underneath, on the right was written ‘Them’ with the scores underneath! A chill went down my spine, and I expect the others too. I don’t know who’s suggestion it was to get out of that cellar, but we were all very keen to agree. We scrambled up the steps and shut the door tightly behind us, never to go back down there again! I have no idea who won the darts match. We didn’t stop to check! There could have been all sorts of treasure to be found in an old cellar full of boxes, but we were not ever going down there to search for it! There was a bad feeling on that whole lower floor.
We had to go down to the ground floor in order to get out to the beautiful garden, but I always made a sort of nervous dash to get outside, and the same nervous dash to get back upstairs. Never lingering. I felt that someone (thing) was behind me, watching me. The garden was very large but terribly overgrown. The grass was waist high and laid down flat. Jim and I had cut it all back and mowed the grass, when we lived there alone. When it was done it was unbelievable. There was all sorts of plants hidden from view, including massive strawberries. An old, hand made, child’s swing hung from a large tree. There was, what once had been, a beautiful, large, Victorian style veranda. Now old, rickety and peeling. I would look at it and imagine a Victorian family sitting on it, drinking tea, children laughing and playing in the garden. They would have been an affluent family. That part of North London would have been where people with money would live, and still did. It was quite sad to see it now. Who lived there? What happened in that house?
I would avoid looking directly at the house when I was in the garden. It was like I didn’t want the ground floor level to exist. If I ever caught a glimpse of the windows at the back of the house, I would look away quickly. I never peered inside. None of us did. The windows, to me, looked like two large black eyes, watching me. They unnerved me – a lot!
One night, on arriving home late, Jim and I were climbing the stairs in the dark when my foot hit something and I almost fell. Jim quickly put the light on and there were three or four baby rats on the stairs. Apparently the brown, long fur denotes that they are baby rats. I can’t believe it but we just stepped over them and continued on up the stairs! We had no doubt that the cellar, and probably the bottom half of the house was running alive in them.
The mood of our home slowly changed. It didn’t seem as happy and carefree. Jim often took himself to bed early. Something was changing, yet we didn’t seem to be aware of it. Our friends were beginning to take our home over, as if it were theirs. Jim didn’t seem to notice. I just put up with them breaking and damaging everything they touched. My home had lost it’s original meaning to me now.
What was the history of this house?