Archive for the ‘living’ Category

Some like it hot; not me

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

weathersymbolbbcI get laughed at for saying I don’t like hot weather. After all, don’t people pay a fortune to go and sit on sunny beaches far away each year?

And what we associate with hot weather (being on holiday, nothing to do, dressed sensibly, able to sleep whenever we want, air conditioned hotels) doesn’t match the reality of our day-to-day life.

So now that we’ve got horrible hot weather here, everyone complains. “It’s too hot”, “It’s stuffy, close, …uncomfortable!”

And I agree. I’d much prefer some coolness and some rain. See, we’re not really set up for dealing with the heat in Britain. The London tube is like the depths of Hell (temp >40 degrees); we don’t have shutters or siestas… We just battle on as if it was cold weather.

How big a house do you need?

Monday, May 4th, 2009

OK, let’s talk fantasy. Money no object, that sort of thing. You’d love a huge big house, a stately home, banquetting halls and enormous curved staircases, acres of beautiful well-tended gardens to wander in…

apethorpe hall

Apethorpe Hall

English Heritage is currently trying to sell Apethorpe Hall (there was a telly programme about it) – and they’re only asking for £4million. I say “only” because this is an utterly huge house, worth far far more than this.

Tempting, eh? (well, no of course not – who has that sort of money these days?) And of course the low price reflects the amount of renovation work necessary to make it inhabitable.

If you want to put in an offer, or simply look at more pictures, the estate agent is Smiths Gore.

I remember reading about Tony Banks (keyboard player in Genesis) and his 400 room house; can’t find any reference to this now, so maybe it was someone else. Anyway, my point remains. Four hundred rooms: what do you do with a house that size?

Sure you could hold enormous parties, and invite everyone you’d ever known to come and stay but, realistically, how often would you do that? Isn’t it the case that you’d hardly ever see most of the rooms? It would be a waste.

Aaron Spelling is infamous for having a gift wrapping room in his mansion.

The idea is genuinely appealling… the concept of having a music room, say, or a games room. A proper wine cellar. Or a specialised cinema. Or a crafts room where the soldering iron and glue and beads and sewing machine are always ready and available, never stashed in the loft or needing lifted off the top of the wardrobe. And wouldn’t it be convenient to have a room with a big available surface and cutters and ribbons and supplies of paper and tags and sellotape on dispenser rolls? A room to do a really good job of wrapping, instead of a rushed job with scissors on your knee and scraps of sticky tape stuck on the edge of the table.

And yet, there’s something a bit sterile and inhuman about this. Isn’t there something even more appealling about using the kitchen table? Moving the paint pots and kids’ homework aside to have dinner. A room where parent can cook while the drawings are being made. I knew some people who had a piano in the kitchen, a battered piano – but not unloved – with candlewax on it, paint, coffee rings and towel hooks screwed in the sides. And there was a tremendous atmosphere as someone did piano practise while Mum peeled potatoes and another child wrote in a jotter. Homely!

And I like going to the park on those sunny days where every bit of grass is filled with people: people having picnics, reading books, chatting, playing chess, sunbathing, doing Tai Chi… Wandering around your very own land would be an empty – and a bit spooky – experience. (Quite apart from wanting to spread the cost by sharing our park/garden spaces!)

This is why i like living in a city (and am not tempted by country life) : there’s people all around. It’s lively. You feel like part of something.

Why is sharing seen as such a Bad Thing? It seems odd to aspire to loneliness…