online: 1 april 2005
modified: 6 april 2005

1 april 2005 places to live and to enjoy

16:34 A sunny afternoon at pond one watching an older swan, with wings raised, chasing a young swan who eventually flies across the water surface to the other end of the pond... and looking at the many-windowed backs of more than a hundred flats across the water, and thinking briefly of the several hundred people, settled or unsettled, living there in sunny rooms, facing west, in this most excellent living place at the edge of the city, next to water, air, and water birds and city forest.

This afternoon i'm remembering several streets and houses visited this morning with Sarah my second daughter who is trying to propel me into a better place and not a worse one if i am obliged to move... Talking with local people wherever we went diverted us to far more interesting places than the flats we'd set out to visit.

We passed near a flat once occupied by Piet Modrian which i had considered buying about fifteen years ago.

The famous Lawn Road flats designed by Wells Coats in 1933 for Jack Pritchard (whom i knew quite well). After being neglected and falling into decay the flats have suddenly been restored to an updated version of the modernist classics that they were and are. A man we spoke to showed us into the penthouse flat with restored panelling (from beneath several layers of wallpaper) and an enormous studio room with a ship-like deck. It has almost no kitchen because there was a bar or restaurant on the ground floor that served meals there or in your room.

The unexpected peace of a cloister of housing for old people - it looks as if it's part of St Dominic Priory nearby. A man who told us that he came there as a boy of 4 and has lived there ever since... he began to explain tell us about the old people's housing when a passing car stopped for him and he got in and the car drove away quickly.

A friendly woman from the flat above one we were viewing - she spoke to us first from a third floor window and then came down and invited us to visit her own flat - she made us welcome immediately in her house and in the neighbourhood. She is going to let us know if any of the flats there become vacant...

As usual when i go house-hunting, the realities (good and bad) that i encounter change my idea of what it is i am looking for - or put me off altogether... But today's search was so interesting and pleasant - it led me to think that i must surely live in a far better place than i can afford... so now to return and to rethink and recalculate to see if dream and the reality can still somehow connect.

As i edit this back in my own room i can hear the motor scooters of teenagers riding back and fore in the closed-off street where i live and which they use as a motor-scooter playground. I am used to them now and do not fear them - but if they'd been here when i first viewed this street i might well have gone to live somewhere else.

How we decide where we live, despite our attempts to be rational, seem on reflection to be accidental indeed. And the whole city, i guess, is composed of decisions which are really accidents... for the world is far more complex than our thoughts!

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