Skip to content

The house hunt

Today marks five years since Andrew and I started going steady. The incident that precipitated that decision was both alarming and hilarious, and ended with me trying to lean against a fence which was really a gate and falling backwards down 3 steps where I landed flat on my back in a giant puddle while a cold February rain poured down on me.

What do I do in such a situation? I laugh at myself. I have trouble taking things, even serious personal things, too seriously. I’m far too lucky. In America most people would swap out lucky¬†for blessed. But I think we are all blessed, so something else needs to explain why I have so many privileges and other people have so few. And in the meanwhile, I think it’s important to treat those with fewer privileges with dignity and compassion and not to take too much notice of the minor misfortunes that might beset me. I’m reminded of a passage from Howards End (my favourite novel):

“But after all,” she continued with a smile, “there’s never any great risk as long as you have money.”

“Oh, shame! What a shocking speech!”

“Money pads the edges of things,” said Miss Schlegel. “God help those who have none.”

“But this is something quite new!” said Mrs. Munt, who collected new ideas as a squirrel collects nuts, and was especially attracted by those that are portable.

“New for me; sensible people have acknowledged it for years. You and I and the Wilcoxes stand upon money as upon islands. It is so firm beneath our feet that we forget its very existence. It’s only when we see some one near us tottering that we realise all that an independent income means. Last night, when we were talking up here round the fire, I began to think that the very soul of the world is economic, and that the lowest abyss is not the absence of love, but the absence of coin.”

“I call that rather cynical.”

“So do I. But Helen and I, we ought to remember, when we are tempted to criticise others, that we are standing on these islands, and that most of the others are down below the surface of the sea. The poor cannot always reach those whom they want to love, and they can hardly ever escape from those whom they love no longer. We rich can. Imagine the tragedy last June, if Helen and Paul Wilcox had been poor people, and couldn’t invoke railways and motor-cars to part them.”

“That’s more like Socialism,” said Mrs. Munt suspiciously.

“Call it what you like. I call it going through life with one’s hand spread open on the table. I’m tired of these rich people who pretend to be poor, and think it shows a nice mind to ignore the piles of money that keep their feet above the waves. I stand each year upon six hundred pounds, and Helen upon the same, and Tibby will stand upon eight, and as fast as our pounds crumble away into the sea they are renewed–from the sea, yes, from the sea. And all our thoughts are the thoughts of six-hundred-pounders, and all our speeches; and because we don’t want to steal umbrellas ourselves, we forget that below the sea people do want to steal them and do steal them sometimes, and that what’s a joke up here is down there reality.”

Anyway, Andrew and I are looking for a flat to buy. I have a strong preference to stay in our neighbourhood (and indeed in our building if we can), but real estate websites have an amazing ability to pull you just a little bit outside your ideal (both on location and price), so I’m trying to be disciplined. I’m also writing to everyone in the building that owns a 3 bedroom flat and asking them if they’d be interested in selling (thanks, land registry!).

Everyone here has warned me that estate agents are awful, and the process is awful, and it will make me want to shoot myself in the foot before long. I hope they’re all exaggerating. But I also suspect that they’re all way more particular than I am. I went and saw a massive four bedroom flat yesterday, for example. Massive. Currently has four undergraduate rugby players living in it (yes, it might be heaven). The owner has been renting it to students for the past 5 years, but we could easily gut it, reverse the direction of the staircase, and make it habitable. I guess what we (read I) really need to decide is how much work I’m willing to have done on a place, and how flexible I’m really willing to be on location.

And I’ll keep hoping that someone with a 3-bed duplex on our floor is looking to sell in the next few months. Because that would really be the bees knees.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *