Buying a House in Mo-Fo England (much anticipated update)

(Fig. 1. These people are not us. But they have just bought a home, and so have instantly become more Attractive and Fulfilled. This, therefore, is a representation of What We Will Become After We Have Been The Bastard People)

Way back in January, just easing ourselves out of post-Christmas malaise, and wondering what we might do with ourselves that might not involve eating, drinking, or buying stuff, we embarked fresh-faced and enthused into the whole House-Buying business. What better way to spend a weekend than to set up a series of appointments and tramp through other people's houses, escorted by owners who looked upon us with rapt expectation? Initially we felt an instant bond with such owners, we had been in a similar position just a short period ago, of course -- trying to sell our precious house in Michigan while the economy went down the toilet. We understood.

We would not be the types of people to parade through someone's cherished home and then sharply reject it because a hallway was too narrow or a bathroom not palatial. We were not Bastard People. Even if we did not especially like a house, we would at least be respectful enough to let the estate agent know in a timely fashion, and not leave the owners dangling.

Fast forward a couple of months, and witness the path of devastation and dashed dreams behind us. To become a homeowner in this day and age, especially in holymother-of-effing-god-HOWMUCH?? England, one must become The Bastard People.

Pretty soon we were doing dash-and-run viewings, cramming appointments in between nap times and descending on the freshly cleaned homes with two kids in tow -- one of whom drools in copious amounts. Sure, they just spent the last couple of hours making their place spick and span for us, but did it have a third bedroom that could actually be a third bedroom? (lady. a 4ft by 5 ft room does NOT a bedroom make). Sure, mister, you may say that the noise from the train tracks at the end of your garden are 'hardly a bother because trains are electric now' but when the 10:56 am to Manchester went by, we all smiled at one another over the din, our teeth chattering politely as we pretended it was not that big a deal. I think it took your estate agent about 5 days to finally get me to return their call after our visit, desperate for our 'feedback.' "Try a thundering train at the end of the garden" I said.

What I meant to say was "It's a great house with lots of potential, but we've decided to keep looking." Maybe my not-so softly softly approach was kinder in the end, anyway.

Then, one day, the Bastard People found a house that might just work. A fixer-upper, for sure, but decent sized rooms and "original period features" (beneath a century of paint, wallpaper, artex, 1950s tiling, and cigarette smoke, but there all the same). A kitchen the size of a postage stamp, but 'potential to expand.' Right now it looks like we might just be getting this one, but until I know for sure I won't post a picture (also, don't want any of you shitholes to gazump us or anything, because I know what you're like). My husband's home improvement skills are going to be seriously put to the test. But I have faith, and I will be there by his side to support him -- offering whatever advise I can on colour schemes and fabric combinations (actually, I have a feeling I am going to seriously know my way around a wall-paper steamer-offer by the time we're done, but don't tell him that).

Turns out, after nearly 6 months of living in an urban-ish area, we realise that while in theory we are Country Mice (lulled by the idea of stunning views of the Peak District outside our charming cottage home) we are, in fact, City Mice, who like the idea of the country as a place close by to visit on weekends. We like our ameeeeenities, you see.

So please, wish us luck, and know that the Bastard People period was just a mercenary phase that should hopefully soon pass.


I Blame Coldplay

Hello! Remember me? I used to be a blogger who posted upwards of 3-4 times per month?!

(insert apologetic rambling stuff riddled with excuses about not posting here...)

Good. Now that's out of the way, let's blog baby!

Now, where was I? Ah, yes. 'I blame Coldplay.'

Actually, maybe it's Kate Bush's fault. It was with Kate Bush that I discovered a great new game I could play all by myself at 11 years old. A game called 'let's pretend you're in a 'Music Video.''

Here's how you play-- whatever you are doing, be it walking down to the corner shop, sitting in the backseat of your parents' car, sulking in your bedroom, pretend that you are in fact in a 'Music Video.' You will need some background music for this, preferably Kate Bush's 'The Man with A Child in His Eyes' but Human League's 'Don't You Want Me Baby' will serve you equally well -- especially if you are tonging your hair.

If you prefer to go with a 'live' performance then a hairbrush is a must-have (naturally) and I would recommend the privacy of your own bedroom, where you can play 'your music' on a 'record player.' If you are taking this to the streets, then a Sony Walkman to play your 'cassette tape recordings' is required.

Once you have these items in place, you have a great deal of creative flexibility as to how you perform in your 'video.' With Kate Bush you might like to gyrate wildly but very, very dramatically around your room -- especially if that song is Wuthering Heights (Heathcliffe! it's me, your Cathy, I've come ho-o-o-o-me. It's me in your windo-o-o-w). But take care with the lyrics -- they are seriously deep and need to be intoned (or mouthed if you prefer) with the appropriate expression of mysterious and yet penetrating angst.

If you are making your video in public, then a certain level of discretion and a good deal of imagination is required. Yes, to an onlooker you might well look like some pimply-faced teen slumping down the street with a pair of head-phones on, but little do they know that a camera is on you and the end result will be a highly produced (quite possibly black and white) montage sequence: 'disaffected working class girl walks through scene of urban blight.' That's you missy, and guess what, you're in the new Smiths video!

I wish I could say that I have grown out of this adolescent game, but every so often an instance avails itself where I just can't help myself. Coldplay on the iPod while I commute is a surefire trigger. One minute I'm charging through the ticket gates to only just catch my train (again) and the next minute I am deep in the reverie of 'Warning Sign' (When the truth is,
I miss you. Yeah the truth is, That I miss you so) . Lights. Camera. Action. And I'm ON.

Add to that an email that appears on your PDA from a dear friend Back Home who tells you of a dream where you appeared back in Michigan...

"When I went to hug Joy, she said I shouldn't get near her because she had some kind of communicable disease.... Then, when we put Jack and J___ [our sons] together, and thought they'd be excited to see each other again, they didn't even really remember each other. I felt very sad in the dream, thinking that they were forgetting each other."

Add that and suddenly you're a blubbering mess on the train, and so the only way to stop your fellow passengers noticing your outpouring is to retreat inside your head and be in the Coldplay video about Loss. Channel that sorrow into a brilliant performance that your adolescent self would have truly envied.

(I miss you too A. Horribly. And everyone there. But, uh, 'communicable disease'??)