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Places to Go: The Lumber Room by Saki

Written by Rachael Norris, 27th March 2020

Places to Go, People to See

Literature provides us with one of the most powerful experiences of travel, all from the comfort of our front living room. What better tool can we have for venturing out, meeting new people and experiencing new places?

Places to Go, People to See is a special feature that The Reader is bringing to you in the hope that it may provide some inspiration on how we can spend our time at home during these difficult times. We will be posting extracts from stories which highlight special moments of travel and adventure, for you to enjoy and, if possible, share.

The extracts are really short so they might even be read over the phone. We also provide an audio recording of each extract to provide a way of hearing another human voice in these times of isolation. We know that people gain so much solace from hearing the human voice reading aloud. It’s something many of us had the opportunity of experiencing as children, and Shared Reading has made that special experience available to us all, time and again, as grown-up’s, for over a decade now. So, however you choose, listening to our readers or reading it aloud yourself, we hope you enjoy this new post.

Golden Minutes

The Lumber Room by Saki is a story that I have enjoyed with many people over the years. It’s one of those stories which has a quality of timelessness about it, a special story which seems to have universal appeal to all.

I remember years ago when I was reading in a rehabilitation centre, we’d been reading there for some years and I had recently taken over the group from a colleague called Andy. After one of our Shared Reading sessions, a young guy came up to me. He had attended the group years ago when Andy had run the sessions. Unfortunately since then he had suffered a relapse, spent some time in prison, and was now back at the centre trying to get his life back together again. ‘There was a great story that Andy read with us, I wonder if you’ll know it?’ Oh no, I remember thinking. I don’t want to disappointment this man – it will be like finding a needle in a haystack. Mentally I start thinking of all the short stories which might make such an impact as to be remembered after several years by someone who had evidently been to hell and back more than once. ‘It was about this boy, he’s really clever but really naughty, and he finds a key to this room.’ A key! Could it be The Lumber Room? Would such a story really have that much power though? ‘Was it called The Lumber Room?’ I asked. ‘Yeah! That was it! Can you bring it next week? I’d like to hear that one again.’ What a wonderful smile he has, I thought, as I observed his eyes light up in rediscovering this old connection.

I did bring it the next week. Unfortunately the young guy had walked out of the programme in the space in between. I never got to share the story with him, but I did share it with the rest of the group to great success. Success? What makes this story such a success for people? I never got chance to ask the guy sadly, but from how people respond to this story, it seems to cast a certain lightness of spirit on us all. As the young boy Nicholas enters into the forbidden lumber room of his aunt’s – a term which in itself sparks much interest amongst group members who try and think about an equivalent from their childhoods – group members seem to feel the renewing energy of exploration, adventure, of being able to see as they once did when they were children themselves. That is, where the everyday can be appreciated anew with the insightful gift of wonder and curiosity.

At this time when we find ourselves at home more than ever, I thought the below extract from this wonderful short story might give us the opportunity to go on a bit of a journey, but a journey which can happen within our own four walls. I hope that after following Nicholas for a time, we may try out if we can discover some golden minutes in our own homes. Please let us know what you discover.

Clare x

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