Our house…

House view

The first single i ever bought was ‘baggy trousers‘ by Madness. This song made total sense to me ‘our house, in the middle of our street, our house…‘ living as we did in a terraced house in the middle of our street in the east end of london.

I remember walking to the record store on Forest Gate High Street, going into the shop and after shuffling about a bit, heading to the counter to ask for ‘Baggy Trousers by Madness‘.

7 inch or 12 inch‘ came the reply.

I nearly die of shame – what the hell does that mean – why does noone tell you these things?

i just want the record‘ i say.

7 inch or 12 inch?‘. The guy chewing gum behind the counter, doesn’t look at me.

7 inch‘ i say

‘Good choice – B side is better

B-side, B-side – what is the fricking B-side? I walk home with the record in a paper bag, wondering if it will work and that the hell the B-side is. At home, i slide the record out only to discover i have bought the wrong bloody record… i flip it over… ah…

Our house

Speaking of houses i had a lovely thing happened this week. A kind of time travelling type thing of a very human nature. The other morning I got in a cab … the cab driver asks me how long I lived in the house – four years – he tells me he lived in my house ten years ago… we laughed ‘that’s crazy‘. I say ‘I saw the house number pop up and I thought no way!’.

We thought there should be a name for that – people who lived in the same house but years apart – I bet Germans have a word for it? Die Hausworterbucher or some such cleverness. It must somehow be related to time travel – a moment in time, opened up, where me meeting him and him meeting me – gives us a view to the future and to the past at the exact same time.

Where you going?‘ he says, ‘Museum of Science and Industry‘ I say. ‘Where are you living now?‘ ‘We’re in Withington – we all moved – the house was too small‘.

When the car stopped to drop me off, I ask him his name – he asks me mine – we’ll forget them but we won’t forget that we lived in the same house, and the feeling that created to want a word to exist to describe it.

I had so much work to do and yet this moment with the taxi driver and a meeting I went to the museum got me thinking about how new words are born, how cities get made, how space is a civic and personal responsibility – to protect the mind, to protect the planet to help humans and animals thrive.

On Right Move, i can glimpse right inside our little house in East London as it was in 2012 when it was bought by some folks i don’t know – its completely changed – the garden, the bedrooms, everything – i think the curtains in the front room are the same but i cannot be sure. I can also see our current house as it was when we bought it, but not when the taxi driver lived there – again – its different – a baby cot in the main room, a shed in the garden – all, gone.

The feeling it leaves, though not quite as creepy, reminds me of this game, gone home..

It drives me closer to an idea, about the mental architecture that wraps itself around a sense of a home – something my nephew said to me when i asked him how he felt about moving, a while after her had moved. ‘its fine, its all up here‘ he said, ‘pointing to his head‘. My partner on the other hand, insists that we should forget completely and move on. Philosophers, like Kierkegaard, would have a field day! In Repetition (1843) he visits the same lodgings in Berlin to see if he can repeat an experience, without success.

…why bother remembering a past that cannot be made into a present?

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I wrote a poem recently, spurred by the memory of processing films in a basement in my old home, when i was at a 16mm filmmaking workshop at Lux Cornwall a couple of weeks back. The act of developing film again, reminded me of waiting to see what i had shot, the labour in the dark to make it so, anticipation bathed in red light. Digital photography/ filmmaking has removed this anticipation somewhat, and perhaps with it, erased the memory of what was shot.

…why bother remembering a past that cannot be made into a present?

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It brings to mind Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (house) ‘a life-sized replica of the interior of a condemned terraced house in London’s East End made by spraying liquid concrete into the building’s empty shell before its external walls were removed‘.

Thanks to Brian Lobel  & Natalie Daring for inspiring initial draft of this post on Facemash and to Karen Gabay for recommending a book ‘Home’ (see below) and friends who posted comments on Facemash about their experiences which made me decide to write a blog post.

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