Sunday, 24 June 2012
Thought for the Day: Home
A manageable sized south facing garden.
Easy commuter access and a quick trip down a safe lane for Louis to an excellent school.
Ex Mr Lovelygrey just round the corner. I realise that some of you will find this hard to believe but in terms of joint parenting it's working out brilliantly.
Off road parking for the motorhome.
A small and compact size that's easy- peasy to keep clean without any of the rooms being darn right poky.
Gas central heating which is much cheaper than the LPG and oil fuelled systems that are common around these parts.
Much more lax planning restrictions than the nearby National Park.
Separate downstairs living areas so that Louis and I can hide away from each other when needs be.
Community! Kids for Louis to play with, extraordinarily low crime and neighbours who will lend each other metaphorical bowls of sugar at the drop of a hat.
Muted neutral decor and a modern kitchen and bathroom.
Peace and quiet only shattered by the dulcet tones of Lovelygrey periodically shouting at her child.
Lovely countryside views of the woods and moorland beyond.
Yet as much as I like it I hadn't quite got around to viewing it as home and was puzzling the other day about why that is, until yesterday. As current British housing legislation stands, I didn't feel safe and secure in rented accommodation. After all, I could be out on my ear in two months notice. With this in mind I started the process of looking at houses to buy and viewed somewhere that wasn't nearly as ideal as what I've got at the moment but would have been mine all mine - if I'd liked it enough to make an offer but I didn't.
But now, because of a leaky patch at the back of the house, I've met my lovely landlady and her family. They've reassured me that, she's not in the housing sector to make a super fast buck. My let can be for the long term. Best of all, she'll even consider selling to me when my settlement comes through. Whoopee!
Do other people in the same position feel this way about ownership being necessary for a home to be a home? I had a word with my lovely nurse colleague, the very shy Mr Anonymous from Guyana who himself is a tenant. 'Does your flat feel like home?' I asked. 'Yes it does' he replied. 'I feel safe there and I can have all my possessions around me'. Hmm! The fact that he might have to up sticks unexpectedly doesn't bother him as long as his stuff comes with him. A different viewpoint altogether. Maybe being childless has a bearing though.
Not for the first time I'm reflecting on the practical and deeper meaning of the word 'home'. I've thought about it in the past in the context of coming into contact with hospital patients who are desperate to be discharged to where they've lived for many years. They've built up a rosy picture of their dwelling place over the years only to find this shattered by the stark reality of living there with a permanent disability. What was once a comfortable and secure nook becomes a place of nightmares when perhaps they find that they are literally stuck in one room, alone for long periods of time without the physical means, say, of making it to the toilet or preparing a drink independently. They're then often forced into residential settings which can fall far short of the ideal in terms of it being a home from the perspectives of the physical environment, the insecurity of tenure with even shorter notice periods than my own and the presence of insensitive staff who see their workplace as just that and not the abode of those that they care for.
So, for those of you out there who own your homes or in are secure tenancies where bills are affordable and there's no threat of eviction, count yourself very lucky indeed! For the rest, it seems that action is needed at a personal, community and governmental level to ensure that more people are able experience the sense of well-being brought about by that having physical space that they well and truly feel is their own for as long as they need it to be.