I came to Smola in the 57th year of my life, wondering if it was foolish, due to age, aloneness, no income, no idea of future with two cats in a cat pram, arriving in a storm.
I still wonder those things, additionally, if now find people have read about me before arriving and all talked about me but I suppose that was to be expected.
There are real highs and fairly low lows but I am in the right place, I know it. This place in time belongs to me and how I live it. I should not worry of other’s opinions (of which there seem to be many) I should just continue and be the best person I can be for myself and towards others.
I’ve said it before but I will remind myself that, Anais Nin said, ‘we do not see things as they are but as we are’ how am I, how are others. Sarcasm has been voiced – that is not how I see things and it is not so easy for me to read. Why read?
Yesterday, I called in at John’s who said speak to Jim, so I went to Jim’s and Martin was there too, they were off to a funeral and Jim was gracious with his time with me. He told me of Susanna (Susan, Cissie) who lived in the house that I now live in and that he was sent, as a child, to get the milk from her. She had one cow and rowed the little milk bills up on a shelf in the porch, the same porch that I have. He was a young boy – he told me of his house too, so much history in every place. After, I walked out of Jim’s old back gate, across the tufted grass, down the bank and on to the beach, along the length of it then up the south bank to come up behind the cemetery. I stupidly and possibly unempathetically, didn’t think that the funeral would be at Levenwick, so when I saw the people all in black with face masks arriving, I left.
But Martin, spoke with Raymond who came to see me today with the most wonderful handful of photos of photos of Susanna Halcrow (Susan, Cissie, or even Zizzie) and I saw, for the first time, a face to a name of a woman who lived in my old house for many years. She was born on the 6th February 1876 and Died 4th January 1960 – she was 83 and what a beautiful picture she was. Raymond brought me 4 photos of Cissie and 4 of John, that had been left in the house before his Aunt Alice lived in it. Raymond remembers it well. I had seen John in a photo before – John Halcrow, who one day walked out of that front door of the old porch facing the sea in Levenwick and never came back – he died in the battle of Jutland 31st May 1916. I am beginning to gather the stories of the lives in this old house – some sad and this one of war and loss and a wonderful looking woman called Susan with a dog called Ralph. So, if Tiggy will allow me, I will also get a new puppy and call him Ralph too. The woman looking back at me, who appears to have only worn dresses, gives me strength and look – the group are leaning against the wall that still surrounds this tiny house that used to be called Croft number 7 and Ralph sits upon it too. Susan looks absolutely calm and I want her to know that I already love her old house which is now called Smola and hope to share it with other women who possess a love of the wild and windy Levenwick and the old authentic place with a wall around it. And I think my next knitting pattern will be named Cissie.
With great thanks and appreciation to Raymond Irvine.