Someone I know who is also the offspring of a Clerk in Holy Orders has shortened the condition to ‘VK’. VK stands for ‘Vicar’s Kid’, and only those who have suffered from the condition can know what it is like. To be fair, nowadays things are probably altogether different, but when I was growing up a VK was the subject of intense curiosity. I have mentioned before how children at junior school used to ask me where we slept and whether we washed in the font: girls at secondary school, however, used to look down their noses at the whole thing as if wondering how I could possibly have chosen such an uncool existence. I was wondering the same thing myself.
Other people had houses: we had something like a station marshalling yard – a draughty area where strange people came and went, a house where you were quite likely to end a furious row by storming out of the kitchen only to find a pair of startled banns couples sitting in the hall. It was a semi-public house, and that was part of the problem: the ‘office area’ was not separated from the ‘living area’. When we started the Herbal Clinic here I made sure to screen off the private from the public part of the house, as I know how important those boundaries are.
We had tons of space: we just didn’t have the time or money to make good use of it. The house was built for a large Victorian family and its servants; for an age in which a fire would be lit in every room – and whilst we did have central heating it only extended as far as my parents’ room, ours being warmed by an ancient funnel-heater which you had to stand over to feel the heat it was putting out. It wasn’t homely, that was the thing; and it was hard to see how it could be made homely. Nor could it be kept clean, the army of original servants being replaced by Mrs P who came once a week on a Thursday and hobbled round with the floor-polisher. By Friday the hall would be full of dog-hairs and the kitchen lino would have retreated just a little bit more from the edges of the room as it crumbled its way towards eventual demise. I dearly longed to tear the place apart and remake it: make the rooms smaller and the kitchen more homely; do up the scullery (a horrendous region of damp and cold) into a utility-room, make the sitting-room open into the garden and have a verandah and, oh – all sorts of things. But I couldn’t. And neither could our mother, who spent loads of time and energy trying to make the place habitable.
The house is a block of flats now. I’d love to see inside it but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
I don’t even have a photo of it, but here’s the church whose spire used to cut a dark triangle into our lawn on summer afternoons:
A very happy Thursday to you all.