Home sweet – where am I?

11Feb10

I’ve not got long today. Not because the car will be here to take me to Claridges in 10 minutes, where I shall be expected to drink champagne cocktails and laugh tinklingly. Though, heavens, that’s close. No, this time it’s because my eyes are gumming over and I need to get out of the house before I go loopy. I’m in the middle of an essay that has taken a turn for the worse. In an amusing twist, I have taken the gold of other people’s thought and turned it to mud. I’ve been working on it for weeks, milling gems into dross, and I still have three days to go.

Anyway, this isn’t the point. The point, in fact, is about where I live. Apart from days like today when I’m pacing and whimpering over my academic shortcomings, I don’t really spend that much time at home. My job involves long hours, college is twice a week, and I have friends who have to be seen at least once every six months. Any longer and they have time to weigh your benefits as a person worth phoning, and generally when it’s got that far they find you wanting. So, rarely home. But when I do get home, I like it to be familiar. Ideally, pretty much the way I left it. Hopefully unburgled, unsinged, unflooded and the same colour as when I last slammed the front door. But not everyone lives like this, and this has been playing on my mind. Even through all the terrible phrases, half-baked arguments and unjustified conclusions of my essay today, I’ve been worrying about this.

See, this friend of mine lives in a gorgeous big house – lots of space, air, light, what-have-you, and even better, she pays very little rent. And that’s sort of where you’ll find the rub. It’s a set house. Which means the owner rents it out to magazines and art directors and photographers for shoots. It might be fashion, it might be interiors, it might be DIY. The whole point is that a bunch of strangers rent the space and can do whatever they like, as long as they return it to its original state. That’s all very well if it’s a one-day shoot. They’ve probably hung some curtains and pushed some chairs around, but if it’s a three-dayer, all bets are off. She says she could leave for work and by the time she gets home the walls are a painted red, there’s carpet down and somebody else’s furniture everywhere. How horrible would that be? You leave an industrial space and come back to French boudoir, footballer’s mansion or German hunting lodge. She says she doesn’t mind, but I would. Oh, I would.

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