He turned the key of the old Edwardian door:Its mechanism,rusted by years of decay and the sea it,refused to budge.Examining the key ,its sheer size dominated the seat of his hand,and he took a piece of granite laying to the side of the path to remove some of the rust.He applied force,but not too much,not wanting to damage the key ,the means of discovery.He had wondered why the Estate agent had been reticent to show him around herself.She was a pleasant girl,more YTS than young precessional,but sincere and willing to try.After what seemed quite a concerted amount of industry with this grandfather of keys,he tried again.As he did,and with a little more force,he felt at least that there were signs of the lock being released.Ever mindful of the place,or,to be exact,the place the house had had on his esteemed friend,he pulled the key out again,preferring to extract more rust particles to its outer layer.It might have only been a rust membrane he thought,but this was the only key that the previous owner had had,he being dead now for over 15 Years.The Estate agent had acquired it via the executor of his friends will .
At this point,some background might be useful to put some flesh on our story as our imagination in this case would never arrive at the actual real events of this story. As children,they had developed a close friendship at Humphrey Daley Grammar school in West. Cornwall in the 1960s,and Dean and Chris formed a bond of sorts.Yes,like many teenagers,they had their ups and downs,but a mutual liking for science and engineering,added to a hatred for Rugby,sort of drew them together in a rather obtuse way.You see,their school prided itself on its passion and ability for Rugby,with many an old boy going on to play union at a higher level when they left.Dean and Chris though,were not of that ilk.Their needs were not met on the Rugger or football field.As their schooling progressed,Chris seemed to excel in the academic disciplines that were central to the schools ethos,and he would have been an ideal head boy ,if he had indulged the school by making a presence of loving sports,but pretence wasn’t part of his DNA,facts were.Dean struggled to keep up with the demands of Grammar,but he was hard working,honest,and loyal,and all these traits drew him to Chris.During their lunch breaks ,they would talk about their goals of getting into the Camborne school of mines,or maybe getting a job at Hollmans,the main employer in the area.
As things turned out,it would be Chris who would surpass all expectations,gaining a place at Cambridge to study natural sciences,before travelling the world with his company and achieving great things.Dean,on the other hand,managed to get in at Hollmans ,where he worked in the engineering department.Of course,as folk do,especially in the pre social media days where it is easier to stay in touch,they drifted apart with Dean thinking that Chris had moved on to much greater things and to mix wth far more important people.
So,I’m Dean,and I’m here with this key ,rusted through disuse and time,but the key is to the family house of Chris Candy,who had been killed along with over 2000 others at the world trade centre ,or,as it is now called ground zero.Chris had never married,folk said that he was married to his work.He had moved to the states with his job where later he set up his company.All this was new to me ,it just seemed like another world.From what the Estate agent had informed me ,the house had been in Chris’s family since it had been built,but I had never visited it,as Chris lived at St Just and I the same .In fact,we lived quite close to one another and often spent time with one another.So,you see,I was in the dark about the existence of this place,but my respect for my schoolfriend was such that I couldn’t refuse to have a look as such to see if I could return the house to its former Edwardian splendour.
Not to be put off by this hiatus to my entry,I applied some WD40 to the door lock and reinserted the key.This time,after far more force than I was comfortable ,I felt the catch release,and that Frankenstein creak as the door became a jar heralded me int the hallway.It was,as expected,bare,but with an acoustic made more interesting by those high ceilings ,it struck me that this was a substantial house,use to bring a home,neglected by the demise of its family.As I realised that by entering a home that had been in a family for generations,I had been given ,not just bricks and mortar,but a heritage.Yes,the people who once graced its rooms were long gone,but the memories that must have been made here were dormant ,ready to be u locked as such-hopefully ,with a key that isn’t so rusty.
It was almost as if the place was hallowed,not just a house,but special,at least to me.As I looked around it,employing my practical head on,made sensitive by a lifetime of machining metal,making tools,studying drawings for mining equipment et al.So,in this house ,even though the signs of neglect were there,even the sorrowful state of many of the walls,with the damp coming off the sea doing what it does best,that is ,to ravish and destroy,I still fell in love with the place.
As I did,as I kept to the agreement ,my mind went back to our motto that Chris and I had As school friends :True friends forever ,loyal forever,curious forever.We made that vow together when we were 12 and I still remembered now.As I did,I almost forgot to open the other letter that I had promised only to do after I had looked around the house.Having surveyed the whole of it,having fallen in love with it as much as you can by a house of other people’s memories,I owned the letter.
Reading it’s contents gave me the surprise of my life,for contained in it,was not only the deeds to the property but a cheque made payable to me for the complete restoration of the place.It had one stipulation ,and that was that the house should now be called:”Humphrey Davey house”!Im not an emotional man,but something in this whole thing ,this trust,this relationship summoned me to my childhood at our school,our motto,our friendship.Yes,we had grown apart,and I was as much responsible for that as Chris,but he had not forgotten me.Even though he had died tragically,the only person that he truly trusted to look after this house,the heritage of his family,was me.For a while,I had only just made a cursory glance at the cheque because I was so taken up by the memory of us at school and the name change,but when I looked again at the amount ,I had to do a double take,for it was more money than I had ever seen written out.Referring back to the covering letter,it appeared that the money was for me to restore the house as I saw fit and to live off the left over amount.It was as if Chris had had that motto etched on his soul from a child,had never forgotten Dean,even though Chris had moved away from Cornwall,left the country as it were,but Humphrey Davey was still in his heart.