Big Brother Chronicles III The Attic

the attic

Iain had an attic room above the kitchen with lay-ins and a skylight. You got to it by climbing up a vertical ladder fixed to the wall through an open hatch at the back door. It was somewhere we seldom went and only by invitation. I remember the first time he called me up. Popping my head through the hatch, it was at once a magical place. While the rest of the rambling three storey house, that was the manse, was either chaotic and untidy or stripped bare and sterile, this was a space of calm order for work, reflection and enquiry. Books were carefully arranged on makes shift shelves pictures, photographs and maps, stones and shells from the beach.  On a desk an open book with a leaf as a book mark and a pad of white writing paper with what looked like an essay drafted in miniature writing with even smaller scribbles at the side, notes and small cartoons, explaining the thought process. A fountain pen with an open bottle of Quink black ink lay at the side. There was a neat rug on the floor with bare floor boards and the most striking thing, to my young eyes, in the middle of the floor, on an upturned fish box, acting as a coffee table, lay a pound note. I had seen a pound note before but there was something outrageously  defiant in the way it just lay there, gently rising and falling in the warm breeze through the skylight window, well used and creased but with such poise. It was the stamp of a character on a room. It was something that I never forgot. Somehow, and no doubt unconsciously my big brother had opened a door in my mind to a new world ripe for exploration, and discovery.

iain portmahomack April 2000

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