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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009
    The satisfaction in staying put
    With the world as it now presents itself, there is something perverse, and probably dysfunctional, about a person who stays in the same house for 40 years. What about the expanding family syndrome, the school-lottery migration, the property portfolio neurosis? Have you no imagination? Don't you feel that incremental slide, familiar to anyone dull enough to have slept under one roof for more than six months, into life-change anxiety? We know the symptoms so well. Sirens, drills, helicopters sweeping low with blades set for maximum acoustic impact: crack up. Crisis.
    Iain Sinclair's 40 years in the same Albion Drive house feature in The Independent today. It tells the same story as the massive book I got through a few weeks back, a story of all manner of comings and goings, changing neighbours, occasional lodgers and those who stayed for years, unnoticed. In 1968 'taking possession of a Hackney house was an uneasy karma', what with all the burglaries and threatened compulsory purchase orders; so the house was cheap. Since then, of course, it's gentrified beyond recognition (parts of it have, anyway) and Albion Drive homes have become expensively desirable to those who care about such things. But, in a tangental echo of the voices which Chris Allen showcases in his book about working class attitudes to property Sinclair expresses the satisfaction in staying put:
    A few years ago, children decamped, we found somewhere very appealing on the south coast. Our house went on the market and we received several offers within the week. That was when we understood, without discussing it, how impossible escape was. You can't leave the thing that you are, the house that has become your biography.
    Thanks Martin for the link