Friday, 30 November 2012

MY LOST CHILDHOOD, EMBROOK, HILCOT, PEWSEY, WILTSHIRE

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A lot of emotional things have happened this week. It all started with a bird flying through my Atelier window in Paris and another window smashing in Los Angeles, it was equally weird.
THERE USED TO BE HERBACEOUS BORDERS, The Garden was designed in parts by Vernon Russell Smith
DERELICT EMBROOK HOUSE
I was filming the last few scenes of my film. I was trying to put it off, I knew it would be painful.  I am brave but a few things in my life I find difficult.  My grandparents had owned a wonderful thatched house in a village called Hilcot, in Wiltshire. I grew up there playing in the garden. Snooping through the attics. Laughing, learning and sitting with my favourite people in the world, my Grandparents, Sidney and Beryl Gilliat. He was as the regular readers will know, a film director, writer and producer. My Grandmother Beryl, known as Squirrel, was an incredible pianist. Chopin, Mendelson  and Rachmaninoff were heard through the house.  She practised every morning, beautifully. Her red, "Persian Melon" fingers could be heard on the piano. My Grandfather disappeared all the time, hiding in his study, or the garden. I would sit on his knee and he would make me read passages from Shakespeare.  I would then lay the table for lunch, help prepare vegetables and pour them a whisky.  We always had Sunday lunch together. Squirrel was an incredible good.  Delicious smells oozed from the kitchen. I then washed up.
I knew it was over, my grandmother died in the 1981, and my grandfather in 1994. My mother, their daughter took over Embrook and much to my horror, the house was quickly destroyed.  She and my brother, pulled out flower beds, hedges, covered a swimming pool, ruined the vegetable garden, broke anything they could. Whilst this was happening, I used to suffer in silence. I like to build things, create things, make things pretty, the other side of the family like to cover everything with baby poo.
So it was with great sadness that I went Wiltshire yesterday.  I knew it would be tough. I dreaded it.
The sun was shining, and I went. I had a hot chocolate in my favourite place as a child, The Polly Tea rooms, quaint, old fashioned and still delicious. I walked round the town feeling like an alien. Everybody looked grey and old. I was with Justine Glenton, dressed in black, we looked as if we came from Mars. Totally out of place. We then walked on the Downs and visited the gardener. A brilliant gardner, not the type that are around today. A genius. His name is Lionel Dobson. He brought my brother and I up. I found him in his council house surrounded with photographs of Embrook,the garden and the house he so looked after. I said "It's Amanda" he stood up from his zimmer frame and smiled and said "There you are, you rascal, your brother ruined the house" I hugged him, I was so pleased to see him. He taught me how to grow runner beans, potatoes, peas, asparagus. Look after flowers, prune plants. His garden was immaculate and totally beautiful. In places it was wild and in others creative. Everything was orderly. He said " Why did your Mother leave the house to Toby, he was breaking things when he was a little boy, he will always break things?" I did not know what to say?. Nobody trusted me, nobody cared.  I had been left out of the will and luckily received the Reeper, a painting I liked as a child.  He said go and kill him he lives up at the mill. So off I went, with a gun in my head, and a cake in my hand. Justine delivered it to him saying happy Christmas, this is from Boris. (Boris is the hero, a 007 character in my film that I fall in love with)
Then I went to Embrook, Hilcot. The last time I had gone I was pushed off the sofa, cheekily by a black whippet, whose name is also Boris.  My Mother had just died, it was emotional, it was smoke filled.
Yesterday, I walked through the empty  house falling to bits. Old curtains scrunched up on the floor, an old piano in the room carelessly looked after. Crying. I could hear my Grandparents voices, "Go and brush your hair, brush your teeth, do the flowers, lay the table, sit up straight, etc"Terribly sad. Now it has new owners. It is a magical house for me. I can till see my family sitting there, talking, laughing. It is now going to have new lives in it. As I closed the door, I realise that two lots of glass broke this week, two because today I finally finished owning 7 Rue Mechain, and I finally said good bye to my past. I will not go back again. 

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