A while back, we did a House Clearance of a flat above a hairdressing salon which opened in the 60s and ceased trading some 30 years later.
Rita had run the salon, living alone in the flat (up 4 flights of stairs!) well into her eighties.
It's strange "meeting" someone after their death and discovering the minutiae of their life without prior permission, and difficult not to form an impression of character through closets of clothes, choice of ornaments and personal mementos.
Rita seemed feisty- a truncheon buried beneath the bottom stair in case of intruders, reports from the neighbours of a fierce old woman pouring a bucket of water from an upstairs window over a yob urinating against her porch when the pub closed.
Wardrobes filled with exquisitely stylish clothes from the 50s and 60s- she had been whippet thin with a penchant for elegant tailoring and pencil skirts. . .and no doubt the obligatory beehive hairdo.
In the back yard was a tiny dog's graveyard- for all her business acumen and independence, obviously a lady with a heart.
The salon had red-&-white checked lino, decaying red Formica workstations and heavyweight hood dryers.
In the cellar was the original signboard from the shop front.
It took all week to clear the contents working from the attics downward, salvaging anything precious and disposing of the massive accumulation of rubbish.
The building was to be sold and the Agents wanted it clear and clean.
We tackled the salon early on a Saturday morning. Within hours it was empty- the debris swept away leaving only the chequered lino to mark its jaunty past.
Then we brought the sign up from the cellar, tuned the radio to Sounds of the Sixties and squirted a can of hairspray all around. . .you could almost hear the click-clack of stiletto heels on the floor!
The sign was eventually bought by a fashion-shoot stylist in London, and I received an email this week to say it was photographed in Grazia magazine.
I bet Rita would've loved that!
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