IDEAL HOMES

GEORGE MELLY JAZZ MUSICIAN Owns a 14th-century tower outside Brecon and mid-19th-century semi-detached house in London
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The Independent Culture
LOCATION: I am presuming that my wife is either dead, divorced or has run away with a better fisherman, because if two people choose an ideal home they have to compromise. I would live just outside a village in Hampshire or Wiltshire. These are not places where I would necessarily want to live, but I would grit my teeth and bear it for the sake of the fly fishing, which in old age is my keenest interest.

ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: A good pub within walking distance, because walking becomes more of a problem as one gets older. A station with a good line to London - once a month I'd go to see friends, go to restaurants, and get drunk.

PERIOD: I would like a Regency Gothic folly. I am thinking more about Walpole's Strawberry Hill than anything you'd find in Jane Austen. Being a folly it could have eight storeys with one room on each, but I don't think that would be advisable at my age, so I'd most like it with two storeys.

CONSTRUCTION: Brick with stucco, and pointy doors and windows and a castellated roof.

BEDROOMS: Five, so friends who liked fishing could stay.

BATHROOM: All the bedrooms would have bathrooms en suite. Most of my friends are getting older and don't want to toddle down passages in the middle of the night.

RECEPTION ROOMS: A very big drawing room, and a study cum library nearly the same size. It would be a Surrealist library mixed with Gothic novels of the early 19th century. Also a morning room that could double as a dining room.

ESSENTIAL KITCHEN FEATURES: Just the normal machinery. I don't spend any time in the kitchen and can't cook and, as you will see, I wouldn't need to in my ideal home.

DECORATIVE STYLE: Consistent with the period of the building, though I wouldn't be absolutely strict because although Regency Gothic furniture is charming, it is very uncomfortable. I like the romanticism of Gothic style and its ability to live with Surrealist paintings. I used to have pictures by Ernst, Magritte and many others, but various crises forced me to sell them. I would re-collect these pictures in my rich dotage and add pictures by William Blake, Fuseli and a wonderful George Stubbs, possibly A Lion Attacking A Horse.

LUXURIES: A man who is a very good cook, who can drive, keep my clothes in order, act as my ghillie when I am fishing, is an inventive and splendid gardener, and enthusiastic about the things that I like. I imagine he would be youngish, probably gay - because otherwise he would surely have been snapped up. Rather good-looking and wonderfully turned out, his name would be Gordon. Perhaps I would give him a decorative tower in the garden or maybe a converted flat in the stable yard. I would also like a rod room.

VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS: My chalk stream. For many years I mocked at chalk streams because they are so easy to use. Their banks are mown, with little benches to sit on. As I get older I begin to appreciate those little benches.

SIZE OF GARDEN: Three acres, not too big, because poor Gordon would have a lot on his plate, although I dare say he could have some help from a man in the village.

GARDEN'S BEST FEATURES: Weeping willows near water.

NEIGHBOURS: No. I don't think I'd like the sort of neighbours I'd find in Hampshire or Wiltshire.

MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: Surrealist: perhaps "A glass of water in a storm"?

WHAT IT WOULD COST: According to Nick van Zeller of Knight, Frank in Hungerford, if George Melly were able to find his ideal property, he could expect to pay more than pounds 1m; properties along chalk streams like the Kennet and the Test command high prices because of their proximity to London. A yard of river with double bank fishing rights costs approximately pounds 200, depending on the river.

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