Sunday, December 14, 2014

Settling In

“Privileged” is not too strong a word to describe how I feel about having lived for a dozen years in the flat at 36 Pelham Court.

It was solidly and thoughtfully constructed. It was accommodating, quirky and wonderfully anachronistic. It was timeless, imbued with a sense of permanence and continually surrounded us with the comforting feeling of home.

All that said, having now spent a month in a flat built a mere decade ago, I have come to appreciate that there is a lot to be said for modern living.

For instance, we now have more than one plug point in each room. There is even a special plug point in the bathroom so I can plug my shaver in there, instead of having to take it to the office and use an adapter to plug it in. We now have “mixer” taps. No longer do I have to use the Hot tap until the water begins to scald the skin from my bones, and then switch to the Cold tap until my fingers turn blue. And the shower: I made many humorously disparaging comments about the weak drizzle that dripped from the shower in my erstwhile flat, but after a while I got used to it. Now, however, I realize what I have been missing all these years: the showers here—both of them—have the sort of water pressure that would do the North Korean riot police proud. (NOTE TO SELF: Do they actually use water cannons, or do they go straight to their AK-47s?)

Naturally, newer and more advanced doesn’t always mean better, and I have run across a few down sides.

Modern living, at the time these flats were built, meant “open plan.” As a result, the bulk of our new flat is made up of an area I call the Kiliving Room, wherein we watch TV at one end, cook at the other and sit down to dinner somewhere in the middle. It’s a strange sensation, not altogether unpleasant, but odd, like standing in an elevator and facing the wrong way.

The flat is also equipped with self-slamming doors. It seems the EU is very keen for us to always close doors because, gosh, the breadbox might explode or the wardrobe could suddenly self-combust and, with the door closed, you would have an extra minute or so to get out of your abode before turning into a cinder. You might even have time to grab the photo album on the way out.

In the past, they had to rely on people like my wife to make sure people like me closed doors but, frankly, they don’t trust my wife to do a proper job and, let’s face it, she can’t watch me every minute of the day, so at some point between the construction of our old flat and the building of this new one, they passed a law decreeing that every door had to be self-slamming and constructed of solid Kevlar.

As a result, a visitor to our flat might (SLAM) assume that my wife and I (SLAM) are having an un-ending quarrel (SLAM) because every time we (SLAM) leave a room, we SLAM the door.

This has resulted in the acquisition of a number of door stops, which now litter the flat, lying around in the general area of doorways like docile rodents, except they don’t squeak when you step on them.

The other, probably, unintentional side-effect of this law is that our hallway is really, really dark.
This is a picture of our hallway. At noon. On a sunny day.

One of the things my wife—an enthusiastic recycler—was looking forward to was a better recycling facility.

Can you blame her? This is the recycling area at Pelham Court.
Unfortunately for her, there is no recycling available in the annex, where we live. Unfortunately for me, there IS recycling available in the main building, which means that once a week I get to walk across the Forum—under the curious, collective gaze of pedestrians, shoppers and people sitting around drinking coffee—carrying a big box of rubbish.

But that’s a small price to pay to save the planet.

In short, it’s nice here; we like the flat and, as a bonus, this is our front yard:

Hey you kids, get offa my lawn!


  1. Oh, how I symothaize with the double taps, weak shower, and a less-than-ideal plug situation. It is wonderful to come back to modern life, isn't it? For all its faults and foibles though, there's no beating a quirky British home.


    1. It was nice, and I am glad I had the opportunity to live there. And I'm glad I have modern conveniences now ;)

  2. Michael, I love the character of old places, but I do love my mod-cons as well. We lived in a wonderful flat years ago, lots of character, fabulous views, but we had to unplug the refrigerator every time we used the toaster.

  3. Ha, too funny! At least our electrics were better than that, although every time an electrician had a look at our fuse box he would exclaim, "Oh my Lord! I don't believe this!"