Monday, January 7, 2013

1980: I'm not very clear how it began

Happy New Year! A time for change? Itchy feet? New year, new you?

Growing up with the Peakes, this was always the case. Our feet never touched the ground. I'm exaggerating, slighty, but we moved every five years, which for a family of four is some feat. And when we weren't doing that, we'd spend an awful lot of time viewing houses.

I've moved twice in 23 years, but my parents have moved six times during this period and are always talking about doing it again, despite being in their seventies. While I find it utterly exhausting and something one rarely wants to do, they love it.

So a lot of Sundays were spent traipsing round showhouses on new developments, or early evenings honouring appointments to view more established ones. We must have seen inside almost every house in the town, and I'm pretty sure the idea behind all this was to have a good old nose behind hitherto closed doors.

I never had to be dragged along. In fact, it was a bit of an outing, a change of scene, something I always looked forward too. It was interesting to see inside other properties and how they compared to our own. Plus, there was always might be. I remember going back to see some two or three times, sometimes more. It seems there was always a need to labour under the illusion we were always about to move on even if we weren't.

New houses were the best though. Showhomes always looked great, and so cosy, especially on dull winter days. We'd come away with armfuls of brochures, with their artists' impressions of smart executive drives with mature trees and neat lawns, and their fold-out floor plans which I'd spend time mulling over deciding which bedroom would be mine and where I would put everything, what I'd see from my window and above all how nice it would be to start afresh.

I still remember some of them now: Cuckoo Bushes Lane with its yellow kitchen, Kingsway with its curly kale and dogshit all over the lawn, Merdon Avenue with its indoor swimming pool, Marlborough Road (too close to Fanny Cradock-alike Liz Gay-Pickard from the drama club), Gordon Road (they were emigrating to South Africa but there were flies buzzing around a bare lightbulb in an upstairs bedroom), Chestnut Close with its eyebrow dormas, Winchester Road with its built-in display cabinets, Hook Crescent with it's thicket of silver birches, Thornbury Wood with its sliding patio doors and advert fantasy nets, and almost the entirety of the (now) circa 1979 Miller's Dale development, which grew the town by almost a third when it was finally finished. All unpainted window frames and reddish brick cul-de-sacs. It's mature now of course, but you wouldn't want to live there. It would be like being trapped in Brookside forever. I don't think there's a window frame there that remains Eighties bare today.

Anyhoo, whenever I hear this song, I'm inexplicably reminded of house-hunting and the joy it brought, though there would be plenty of other memory-joggers associated with this particular hobby through the years, but it's always this one and Livin' Thing by ELO that jolt me the most. Must have been chart rundown time or something.

I wouldn't be averse to moving again, but it's so much better to dream, isn't it?


  1. "Flies buzzing round a bare lightbulb". Grim. And not something you tend to see any more. Did it go the way of white dog poo or something? Or did the flies just evolve a bit and get too clever?

    Your parents are amazing. I'm going to be living in this house till I can't manage the stairs any more. We've been here since 1997 and before that we were in our flat for nine years. I think I take the same view of moving as you do. Great that you got to do all that noseying around, though.

  2. I've been in my current place for 10 years, my previous place for 12. I'm in no hurry either.

  3. I've lost count of the number of places we lived in, we moved roughly every couple of years from 68-79, then I have probably moved at least 20 times in the last 25 years. I have said that I will move from this place in my coffin, never. moving. again. You always know, as soon as you go into a place, if you could live there, don't you? Hope your hols were good, nice to have you back.

  4. Too much hassle involved in moving for me, which I seem to have inherited from several generations.

    My grandparents (both sets) only moved twice in sixty-odd years and, other than one which was prompted by Mr Hitler invading France forcing a hurried evacuation, it was all to increase bedrooms for available children.

    My parents only moved twice - from newly wed flat to the house I grew up in, then a job enforced move from Hertfordshire to Suffolk. And MrsB and I have moved from her flat to our house, and that was 16 years ago with no plans to up sticks any time soon.

    I do have fond memories of house-hinting when we came up here, and also when MrsB and I were looking. I'd love to know what we would have done in the house in the sticks with cellars and proper attics and lots of outbuildings had we ended up there, but am glad we passed on the bungalow with no garden to speak of...

  5. Are you paying more than $5 per pack of cigs? I'm buying my cigarettes over at Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 60%.