Susan’s post last Saturday, about a new form of space-maximising home, got me thinking about what we could do to improve things without re-modelling the entire place. Here are a few suggestions.
First, double up on dishwashers and dispense entirely with cupboards for your crockery and pots and pans. Rotate it all through your bank of dishwashers – when one is filling up with dirty utensils, another is storing the washed and clean. Saves effort and probably a bit of space.
Second, washing machines. Why do we keep them on the ground floor? If we made room for them upstairs we wouldn’t have to carry our laundry so far. Say goodbye to back-strain!
Following on from the first two suggestions, how about this… now the washing is near where you keep your clothes, you can extend the dishwasher idea to your tumble dryers – and do without chests of drawers. You could have a series of dryers, each containing different sorts of clothing at different stages of drying.
I’m sure there’s even more mileage here – perhaps we should eat off our fridges?
I don’t recognise the picture some – see here – paint of this country. The last couple of Saturdays I’ve cycled along canals through the East End, firstly, from Islington to Tottenham Marshes and then, a week later and with the eldest, down to Limehouse and Canary Wharf. Almost all of it looked fantastic. Beautiful new social housing, wonderful parks, charming waterside pubs – and, of course, lovely waterways, ideal for cycling and walking.
Then yesterday I discovered that the aforementioned eldest – a six-year-old pupil at a socially mixed primary school – is being taught English grammar (for those readers who didn’t benefit from a 20th century British state education, just so you know: this is unheard of). He’s even been talking about the job verbs do. And here’s some words from this week’s spelling test: ‘immediately’, ‘subsequently’, ‘humongous’; pretty tricky for Year Two and, in the last case, the sort of word I would have felt proud to use in an ‘O’ level essay.
There are lots of other reasons to think things are pretty decent right now – socially, if not economically. Crime is down, for instance. But then I’ve realised – after four decades or so of responding to this and that – that I’m temperamentally optimistic and enjoy seeing the good in things. Others, obviously, aren’t and don’t. Take your pick.
I’ve worked out how you can quickly spot those who are unreasonably pessimistic about the state of the nation: if the words ‘crumbling infrastructure’ pass their lips you can stop listening. And most especially if they’re referring to London.
Locally, here in N1, our infrastructural cup overflows: two huge hospitals re-built from the ground up (UCH, The Royal London), two re-modelled Tube and Overground stations (Highbury & Islington and Farringdon) each accommodating new railway lines (the East London Line extension and Crossrail), a new, state-of-the-art football stadium (The Emirates), the sprawling and notorious Packington Estate flattened and being replaced largely by streets and houses, a massively re-developed mainline station (Kings Cross/St Pancras), a refurbished Regents Canal. Not to mention the expensive changes made to the roads, largely for the benefit of cyclists and pedestrians. And all the new playgrounds, tennis courts, all-weather pitches dotted around. Then there’s the tarted-up parks and squares. I could go on… and not even get to that Limpicks legacy over in the east.
I think we should do more to enjoy all this new and shiny stuff. I realise that, being British, it won’t be as satisfying as revelling in the gloom brought on by all the associated debt. But, as those Limpicks showed, an occasional change of pace can be refreshing.
Have you seen this?
I try to ignore politics – or at least try not to care too much about it – as it tends to defeat even my happy disposition. But every so often you see something that makes it clear that even if you’re not fighting the class war, others are. And in this instance it’s not the lot that we middle-class folk have traditionally felt uneasy about.
I’ve been writing this whilst watching a blast from a truly class-bound past, the BBC4 TV adaptation of Room at the Top. But never mind the social climbing: I don’t think I’ve ever peeped at so much shagging in all my life. It’s a bit like Mad Men but oop North and with even more sex. Catch it when you can.