I forgot to post this yesterday. On the top of the window pelmet was the date 2001 painted in the pale peppermint green that covered the walls, thus dating the last redecoration of this room, and perhaps much of the house, to the very start of the twenty-first century, when Paddy was 80.
Today I tackled the west wall of Mark’s future study (formerly George Sutherland Fraser’s study). The wallpaper either peeled off dry, sometimes taking the plaster with it, or was extraordinarily stubborn. I had to utilise my Paper Tiger, which I still haven’t shown you yet.
By the fireplace I got a brief glimpse of the original paper. Once again it was a textured paper like the one in the lounge so it may well date to 1935 when Martha Baxter had the house redecorated. This one is a sort of organic cross-hatched design.
I also discovered how this fireplace works. The hood above the fire was painted shut but cleverly it opens the flue when you pull it out and closes it again when you push it in. When I pulled it open for the first time in years there was lots (lots) of dust, many broken bricks and a dead bird, the second in my fireplace reveals. I also worked out that the fender at the bottom lifts out (with the help of my trusty mallet). I swept out many cigarette butts and other rubbish that had clearly been there some decades. I then also found a crumpled piece of paper.
It was a torn up letter dated February 14, 1963.
It was signed by George Fraser and was written to another George, whose surname is not mentioned. It discusses poetry and the work of a young poet called Jeannette Osborne, whose poetry George Fraser had sent the other George for critique. In it there is a line which reads “I would admit that I am perhaps less stringently critical than I ought to be about poems by young women, especially when I find them attractive; and I have my own sentimental streak…” Torn up and thrown into the fireplace, it was never sent.