I’ve always thought I had the ability to see past other people’s ideas of décor when I view houses. I walk around thinking “yes, a loo can go in the cupboard under the stairs” and “I can fit an en suite in there” or “let me just rip this kitchen out and start again”. Not so much “Grand Designs” as “logical enhancements”. My viewing of this house was no exception ... but what I should have been doing was asking whether there was a combi-boiler, whether there were any leaks and if the shed at the bottom of the garden was lined with asbestos. I didn’t do any of that. So desperate was I to be away from the London Dungeon and so exhausted was I from driving 50 miles each day in rush hour traffic to get my son to and from his new school, I thought – THIS house is a 3 minute walk from the school and THIS is obviously where we must be.
The house – in “estate agency speak” – is “inter-war”. It was built (or possibly propped up by the two houses either side of it, in its mid-terrace position) in 1929. It has, without doubt been “ahem” modernised ... I reckon probably sometime in the 1960s but – since then – only cosmetic changes have been made.
Coat after coat of paint has been applied to each and every inside door – without ever a thought given to planing any of the wood off prior to repainting hence, apart from the door to the only toilet – which is upstairs, NONE of the other doors in the house actually close. At least two of us can be found most mornings going cross-eyed on the landing waiting for the third to exit the toilet. And ... when one of us is lucky enough to gain access to the toilet – these are what we get to look at!
And we can look at them in the separate bathroom, too – wherein they cover the walls AND the ceiling!
I like luxury as much as the next person – but REALLY is a downstairs loo “a luxury”? Not when you’re 53 years old, you’ve had your first child at the age of 41 and you completely forgot to do your pelvic floor exercises thereafter, it isn’t ... a downstairs loo is an absolute bl**dy necessity!
The master bedroom isn’t a bad size and has elements of – if I lived in North West London – what I would call “Golders Green Gothic” about it ... but I don’t. I now live in Essex, so I believe the house’s current state of decoration could be termed “Barkingside Byzantine”.
Oh yes ... every bedroom should have its very own chandelier ...
and – naturally – covered radiators are the ultimate in good taste!
My son has opted for the smallest bedroom ... he likes “cosy”. He certainly HAS cosy. And only about a third of his treasured possessions actually fit into the cosy little room. Never mind. He has overflowed into the spare room which has melamine-clad fitted wardrobes and very useful they are, too – they’re just not quite as “attractive” as the ones in the master bedroom which have the benefit of fake antique gold “stuff” stuck all over the place.
But – that said – the master bedroom doesn’t have the benefit of an electric shower strategically placed in its corner which the spare room does have.
... very Barkingside Byzantine and scattered liberally throughout the through sitting and dining room!
I avoid looking at them too much because they make me itch to rip them off the walls.
Where do I start? And – in describing – for fear of boring you ... where do I stop?
Outside, we have a thingy that is corroded and leaks.
... which is open to the elements at both ends and I would dearly like to pull it off the wall (and then hit the vendor and the estate agent with it ... after I’ve hit myself – of course – for having been completely STUPID).
I desperately need a job to supplement the income from our business in order to start putting into action the many, many, MANY things that need doing to this silly little house – and that’s not going to be easily achievable!
And of course, there are sadnesses ... our darling German Shepherd (who was too large and too bouncy to live in a size-challenged house that the sale of a property in Catatonia deemed was all we could afford in the outskirts of the capital) is no longer with us but having a whale of a time in 3 acres of land in Kent.
For all of the sadnesses and inconveniences, I am once again sitting on my own comfy sofa rather than the concrete couch that nearly broke my back in the London Dungeon. I have a fat Westie snuggled up to my right and an aging black cat snuggled up to my left. That HAS to be fine ... poor old moggy was used to living in the shed in our old house and is now able to spend his twilight years inside as a lapcat.
I like living in Essex! I never thought I would, but after three months of living in the environs of where the London Dungeon was situated, I find Essex friendly ... and it’s wonderful to be within walking distance of a very cosmopolitan High Street. We're quite close to BNP heartland so, I have great pleasure in thumbing my nose at Nick Griffin because I LIKE THE MIX!
I’m enjoying using my own cooking utensils again – now crammed into a too, too small kitchen, and the smell of the first home-made chicken soup bubbling on the hob ready for Friday night in three months is a plus! There are some things that are absolutely okay about my world – and, of course, the very best okay bit is the fact that I have a happy kid. His education and the way he talks about his new school make every single inconvenience pale into total insignificance.
We are HOME.