Houses

We have moved house. We have moved house and nobody has been murdered, despite some extreme provocation.

We have moved from our plumbed-by-a-maniac, Bakelite-fused, 3-bed terrace built about 1870 two streets up the road to a 4 bed terrace house built in 1907 and now owned by an architect who when they bought it did sensible things like redo all the plumbing, strip back the original red tile and pale oak floors, extend the kitchen, install fire doors and put eight sockets in every room. And also left one wall in every four as bare brick, which is one of several décor choices I find mildly boggling in a house with a Queen Anne Revival frontage and Art Nouveau windows but am prepared to live with as a condition of two bathrooms, gas heating, sufficient power points and a usable living space. And Belfast brick is lovely and warms the light, if you’re looking into the kitchen in the evening, anything on the counter looks like a Dutch still life painting.

Mostly I love the frontage. The front door is TARDIS blue is recessed deep into the house, the step is tiled in red and cream, there is heavy architraving above and at the sides, there is a fancy scooped sweep between the gable and wall, the front window takes a solid third of the wall and is topped in the same Art Nouveau stained glass as the door. So is the back window ground floor, which basically nobody but the woman of the house would even see, as that was the original kitchen. I am a sucker for this kind of thing and the ghost of Charles MacAllister can come build me a house any time.

The windows and the fancy frontage make it a listed building. Hello Belfast, where listings are erratically applied but enforced with great prejudice. This is why the last time I lived in this street we had horrifying dangerously loose single-glazing, the owner was too cheap to update it in a way that preserved the stained glass, or in fact kept the house water-tight. Current owner has done all but the front room window the proper way – sandwiching the old glass in the original frames or close replicas and rebalancing the sashes. Apparently the reason the front window wasn’t done was that the glazier looked at the long-jammed opening mechanism, muttered something about the parentage of the designer and refused point blank to touch the thing.

The letting agent and I looked at it on Saturday and agreed that that the ‘you must open the windows and air out the damn house’ section of the lease could be overlooked for that particular window, never mind the condensation. It looks like you were supposed to be able to wind the centre top section of the window open along a long screw, probably to stop people carelessly banging the lovely stained glass about. The handle does not move. It hasn’t been painted over, and in fact has clearly been hit with every lubricating agent known to man, but it ain’t turning. We’re leaving it strictly alone.

I  like this house. I think we can function here. I think bookcases exist which will fit in my room. I think we can probably find Other Housemate’s bourbon eventually. I think the fan oven is the new favourite toy. I think I’m spending the rest of the week limping and I don’t even care.

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