- Editorial - Moving Home
cant tell you if the UK housing boom has peaked. I have been completely
wrong about house prices since 2001 and likely to be wrong about everything
else for the next 30 years I should think. Nevertheless there is something
exciting about moving house, even if one is renting. I have last found
a place to live that just might cheer me up (something Carine assures
me only happens in alternate leap years.)
Currently I am living in a shared house that Count Dracula would have
been pleased to call home, if hed wanted to live in a seventies
estate detached home in Petersfield. In every room there are decomposing
dried flowers and piles of rotting moth eaten teddy bears. The moths
flock in and chew on the carpets, loudly, and no one has removed the
dust sheets from the furniture in years. Things break off in your hands,
curtains spill over with dead things, the heating is electric and only
heats the house when you are out, immediately shutting off when you
get home from work. It is a bit like living in some dead blokes house,
only you havent the heart to leave or tell him that he is dead.
Dust, dirt, no soundproofing, you can hear everything that goes on behind
the paper thin bedroom walls, all for four hundred quid a month, per
room. It also comes with a strange Irish tenant who hasnt yet
discovered the soap and leaves all the windows open on frosty nights.
The incentive to find somewhere else was pretty urgent, I felt.
Petersfield is the town of the living dead. Come here in the day and
watch eighty-year-old biddies in stout shoes shuffling from shop to
shop. Visit at night and see the clusters of bored kids wishing they
could drink their booze inside the pubs, rather than in the street.
If there are any cops, they are out on the roads with their speed cameras,
rather than dealing with any crime in the town. The town echoes with
the endless drone from the nearby A3 motorway and the rattle of the
trains as they scrape their way through from Portsmouth or London. Petersfield
is trapped in a natural basin surrounded by pretty hills, but it captures
every sound from every direction and is therefore an acoustic nightmare
-not the peaceful place to live the estate agents might tell you.
So, accepting the inevitability, I have placed a deposit on a rented
flat in historic Old Portsmouth. There really isnt
anywhere else to live in this city. Southsea looks out onto a bland
pancake of a sea, behind it, although they tell you it is bohemian.
the buildings are stunted, the streets too narrow and the whole area
is blighted with monumentally unambitious architecture if ever
an architect got a look in over the vast housing estates built there.
Old Portsmouth still sports enough evidence of a grander past, Hitlers
bombs notwithstanding. By good chance then I have found a Georgian town
house to live in on the High Steet and if you squint, you can see that
once this was the epitome of elegance. Indeed Royalty was murdered next
door and Lord Nelson used to wine and dine on the other side. It is
a sad fact that this Georgian dwelling has been butchered and made to
produce five flats (one the size of Harry Potters broom cupboard,)
but I get to live on the first floor. The entire first floor. This is
grand living indeed. A living room with original oak timbers and marble
fireplace, three tall and chilly windows, each fifteen feet high. It
is 30x20 feet and this is just the front room; theres a bedroom,
dining room and a new tiny bathroom tucked into the wall as an afterthought.
I suppose two hundred years ago they pissed out of the windows.
Whoever lived here lived well. The beautiful original oval spiral staircase
sits in the centre of the house lit by a skylight. They had style 200
odd years ago, something that has completely bypassed Petersfield and
modern British housing estates. At one time, this would have been one
home, the top floor for the sevants, the basement for cooking, (where
someone has an art gallery now and wont let anyone in!)
I knew this flat had to be mine the moment I went in. Even though the
rent is ruinous and way more than a mortgage. It has possibilities.
It demands that you entertain and even though I no longer possess any
furniture (having given it all away in Canada and Cornwall over the
last few years) all you need is good wine, tall glasses and company.
The room will just embrace us and make us welcome. I know it. Of course,
I have no idea how I am going to heat it, but I am sure theres
a few student essays I can throw on the fire.
I imagine Nelson probably endured a drinks party or two in this place,
certainly elegant white gloved ladies would have been entertained by
handsome swains at the piano whilst eyeing young officers with a steady
income. Its that kind of place and soon it will be mine, on loan
for the price of the rent. Colleagues tell me that I could find somewhere
cheaper, warmer, newer; but this place is living history and here my
photographs will feel at home.
Bishop Hernandez, one of our regulars on Hackwriters, writes to warn
me about ghosts, but hey, if I was a ghost Id not be in a hurry
to leave this place. Ill be here and then Ill be gone, the
ghosts will stay forever.
Next week Ill move in, for some reason I expect my luck to change
with it. More anon I think.
Inside the November Issue
You can visit Krakow and Auschwitz
with Philip Seddon, Amsterdam with Samantha Derrick, climb in Taiwan
with Anthony, discuss the future of Europe with James or the Bush presidency
with James Campion, discover the 'Trail of Tears' in American history
with Astrid. There is now a brilliant short story from Sidi Benzahra,
something about Vegas from our regular Colin Haslett and James campion
has discovered that the Sky is Falling -run for the hills. Natelie White
discovers shopping, Ms Davidson wishes she hadn't, J T Brown discusses
that delicate issue as to whether you wipe with paper or your hand.
James Skinner has a dream about nuclear war. Abigale Vail on fear and
loss and just what are the secrets in the bedroom. All is revealed.
Larry Thompson comes across a singing bed in Africa and there's more
- check it out.
Come back we update and add new work every week.
Stairway to Heaven and other
29th Deauville American Film
Deathrate 2003 and Being Your
Summer Movies -London heat
London Art Fair
: Saying Goodbye
Returning to Blighty
Forget your troubles - April
Oscars have a message
for War February
Renting in Kits
Escape to the UK
takes a break
MANY MOVIES- IT'S AN AVALANCHE OF CULTURE
will you seeing at the movies?
REALLY IS A FUN CITY
'The city where everyone gets to live a millionaire lifestyle'
SECTION 9 in the N.Y. Sunday Times
A cornucopia - October
The Kids stay in the picture- August
PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold
Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver
on speed -September
SUPERNOVA NINA &
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island
- Off Fringe
ROUNDHOUSE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY.
Arts in the Community is for real -
WE ARE ALL GURUS NOW - September
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report
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Carine Thomas -Brighter Image