The Lubba house sits on the hill above Lubba beach, which forms part of Lubba bay. We’re probably related to whoever first called them that, though we don’t exactly who it was or why they did. You can see the red door of the white house from anywhere on this particular stretch of Shetland, where the land sucks itself in to avoid the sea like a child sucks in its tummy to avoid a tickle.
Once you give the red door a necessary nudge, escaping the mingled smell of sea water and the few remaining sheep, you add your wellies to the pile in the porch. You then follow the brown floral carpet, the same one every other foot that has ever entered the house has followed, through to the main living room. If you don’t know the Lubba you might be startled by the sound of screaming. Not many people are used to stove top kettles anymore. You’re asked if you want a cuppa and a dippy egg, the answer is yes, and you’ll get two slices of bread, heavily buttered with the crusts removed, just how you like it. Each visit to the house has become a ritual.
Nothing in the room matches, and yet everything fits. The camel coloured seats clash with the deep red sofa which clashes with the yellowing curtains. Each has its own story, a life before the Lubba, though it probably won’t see one after it. We’ve not been allowed through to the back bedroom for years now, the water damage isn’t worth repairing. Two summers ago the greenhouse roof fell in so we couldn’t visit the roses anymore. Last year we had to hop around a patch of uneven flooring in one of the attic bedrooms.
We used to get told off for ruining the wallpaper as kids. Every room is papered with the kind that has puffy white bits on it, perfect for picking at. Curling photographs are taped to the walls, so that no matter where you sit you can check to see which ancestor gave you your nose or chin or knobbly knees. We used to need lifted to see them, but even the youngest can stand and look for herself now. They’ll only be white rectangles soon. I wonder if the puffy white bits will peel off with the tape.