Reluctant Departure

Updated on August 22, 2017
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella has a keen interest in environmental issues and how the natural environment should be preserved for the benefit of all living things.


The End of the Road

Before Edith Tomlinson left her house that morning she glanced in the hall mirror as always to check her nose was powdered properly. Brushing a solitary strand of hair away from her lapel, she reached for her umbrella from the hall stand and wondered how many more times she would be permitted to continue this ritual - an unfaltering routine of more years than she cared to remember.

It was only a two-bed roomed terrace but it was her world. A wave of nostalgia swept over her as she recalled the house as it was when she was a child. She remembered the old wash house and the butler sink where now there was a modern kitchen and utility. How times have changed, she sighed... sometimes for the better and sometimes not.


Stepping out into the street she noticed how worn down the doorstep had become, remembering with fondness the people who had trodden over this, her threshold.

Her next-door neighbour Mr Rayner was leaving his house at the same time. He raised his hat as he spoke in his broad Yorkshire accent. 'Na then lass, I know where tha's going today.'

'Aye it's where we're all going, Fred,' Edith replied, pointing to several other pensioners further along the street who were also just emerging from their homes. There were younger residents making their way to the church hall too but perhaps the news - assuming it was bad news - wouldn't be so final for them. They were so adaptable these days, the young ones. 'Better go and see what they can do for us then.'

Linking arms, they began to walk along the pavement towards the church. Both over eighty, they were indisputably the street's oldest residents; Edith and Fred, expecting little more at their time of life than to die in the same bed they were conceived in.

'They shouldn't be putting us through this at our age,' Fred said, shaking his head as if he couldn't quite comprehend what was happening to their community.

The couple paused to look around them. The street looked bleaker than ever today under overcast skies. Even in wartime, it had appeared brighter. Now there were more boarded up and burnt-out houses than ever there was back then. And the most pitiful thing about it, Edith thought, was that every few houses or so there would be one which had been lovingly restored. A fresh coat of paint, new windows, new roof - the lot; but that wouldn't make any difference now if Fred and Edith's worst fears were realised.

'Aye Fred, but we've had some good times haven't we?' Edith replied, attempting to dispel her neighbour's pessimistic mood. 'Remember alt street parties we had for Jubilees and coronations? Think of alt bunting and trestle tables we had down centre of street!'

Fred did brighten somewhat at the thought. 'Aye, lass they want to uproot us lock stock and barrel but they can't tek our memories away now can they?'

They were almost outside St. Cuthbert's now; the old church was boarded up too.

'Baptised in that church, I was.'

'Me too, Edith.'

'And married.'

They gave each other a solemn look, both correctly assessing the other’s thoughts.

'I reckoned next place we'd be going would be into orbit but looks like developers have got other plans.' Fred said with a wry smile.

They had reached the church hall now. At the door was a suave-looking gent in a well-cut suit. Fred recognised him from previous meetings.

'Hello, Mr Rayner, and how are you feeling today?' the man asked, his tone of voice patronising and not in keeping with the matter in hand.

'Fine, just fine,' Fred replied politely as he entered the hall but his thoughts hardly mirrored his words:

How would you bloody feel it your house was just about to be demolished almost around your ears? That was the question he really wanted to ask.

And not only your house but all the other houses on the street and on the next two streets? And how would you feel if you were the one getting considerably less than the full market value for your home and all the new developments in the area were way beyond your price range?

The atmosphere in the hall was nothing short of chaotic. The housing corporation had set up impressive and detailed plans and models of their proposed award-winning development which were displayed on various tables dotted around the hall. There was even an expensive buffet provided which several residents defiantly but politely declined.

The meeting commenced. 'After much deliberation...' the chairman began '...cabinet has now approved the proposed development and work will begin on site when all local residents have been relocated.'

'They'd never do it to Coronation St!' shouted one irate young woman, her equally irate baby screaming in its pram. 'If it were Corrie, then alt country would be up in arms, but no-one cares about us!'

Edith sighed, realising the hopelessness of the situation. 'Come on, Fred let's go home - it's out of our hands now.'

Fred nodded. The two neighbours linked arms again and walked home together reliving memories of happier times.

'Shall I put kettle on then?' Edith offered as they approached her house.

'Aye, go on then, lass.'

There was talk of their families; Edith's in South Africa and Fred's in New Zealand with flights too long-haul and unaffordable even if they waited for the compulsory purchase money to come through. And what would they do at their age in a strange new country when neither of them had ever travelled any further afield than Leeds?

'I wouldn't last the journey, not with my angina,' Edith said with resignation.

'Me, neither,' Fred replied, his voice becoming solemn again. 'What's to become of us then, lass? Have you been saving them up like we planned?'

Edith answered in an almost matter of fact manner, surprising herself with her courage. 'I've put in several repeat prescriptions and the receptionist never even batted an eyelid. I've got about a hundred and sixty altogether. - that'll be enough for both of us by my reckoning.'

'Aye,' said Fred, ‘one for every year of our lives.'

Houses at a Knockdown Price!


Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Stella Kaye


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)