Saturday, May 13, 2006

13 May: Home, sweet home.

Ah the joys of living on a modern housing estate!

In the winter we have the run-off from washing the cars frozen across the road, creating a hazard for those of us who can't skate, ski, rollerblade, skateboard or otherwise stand up on something that moves suddenly. And don't forget the fireworks - not only on 5 November, but at any time the master of the house comes home from the pub slightly merry and in the mood for fun. Christmas time brings out the competitive spirit in some residents, who attempt to plaster their houses with more twinkling fairy lights, flashing reindeer, and inflatable Santas than the neighbours.

In the summer it's barbecues on the decking, with the floodlights and the patio heater going full blast; lots of cans and bottles, fun and lots of laughs. Or sitting in the garden with the cricket/football/golf/Formula 1 on the telly indoors, but turned well up so it can be heard in the garden.
At holiday time, the burglar alarms have to be set, so that they can go off intermittently for the fortnight that the family's away. That's as well as the hyper-sensitive car alarm on the car that's left at home while they go to the Metrocentre in the 4x4.

An avalanche of charity collecting bags - there have been up to 4 in a week sometimes. The amount of large plastic bags that come through the door in a year is probably enough to create a temporary camp for refugees from flood/earthquake/war.

And all the time people banging on the door, suggesting a change of gas and electricity supplier, doing a "quick survey" which turns out to be 25 minutes of inane questions about TV adverts, or seeking to interest the home-owner in some sort of improvement to the house. How do they know when you've just started to knead bread or rub in pastry?

As the last houses to be built here were occupied under 4 years ago, it might seem that they would not need a lot doing to them (apart from the plumbing, which seems to have been hastily assembled in the dark by dyspraxic runaways from a home for the bewildered, using random parts from various countries with incompatible measurement systems, without the benefit of any instructions, whether translated from the Japanese into Croatian and thence into English or not).

Nevertheless, perfectly good tarmac drives have been ripped up and replaced with those little brick-like slabs that sink where the car wheels stand, and grow lovely grass in between; dozens of conservatories and "garden rooms" have been crammed into the already small back gardens; bathrooms and kitchens have been re-fitted, floors have been re-laid, gardens landscaped, and probably all the houses except ours totally redecorated.

Perhaps it's time to think of moving.

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