CHARMED LIFE

OK, so I was indecisive, said I wasn't sure if I'd finally go for it, but still, it galls me to think that it has gone to someone who doesn't think he likes glass bricks and has no idea what a Shaker kitchen is.

Apparently, moving home, changing jobs and getting divorced are the most stressful things most of us will have to cope with in our lives. Well, hell - why not do it all at once - that's what I'm doing. I'm sort of having a one-stop-shop with the shopping list of stress. I've done the job bit, semi-sorted out the divorce bit, and am now shopping for my new pad, which, I have to say, is the most stressful bit so far.

For the past week I have been full-time flat hunting in East London. Looking in an unfashionable area is not easy - you never quite know what you're going to see. It's a mixture of excitement and dread which is hard to explain.

After a spate of garden gnomes, Koi Carp, "Living Flame" fires, and families who were proud that they had managed to successfully eradicate every last period feature, I began to wonder whether the E numbers of the London postal district were for me. Then, I find it - an old Academy being converted into loft apartments. I can see myself there, in the Manhattan of the East, chilling out in my minimalist chic. By the time I have finished my mental decoration, this place is to die for - Elle Decoration will be ringing my bell the minute I cross the threshold.

So it is with thoughts of white suede sofas, maple floors and glass brick walls that I find myself standing at an unattractive crossroads on a dismal Saturday, staring at the building which contains the lofts. My phone rings - it is a friend who, by some twist of fate, is lost at the self-same crossroads. I spot his hideous yellow car at the junction, and wave him down.

We manage to get hold of a couple of hard hats and are let loose in my prospective des res building. He is very impressed. I know I have found something pretty good here. I show him "my" loft - number 42. Even more impressed. The consummate bachelor, he sees this as party pad personified.

In fact, not only does he approve of my choice, he actually goes back to his yellow car and reserves the flat. He reserves my loft, number 42, my NYC in E5.

But I've decided to look on it as a sacrifice. He is the first of my converts - in a couple of years you'll all be giving your right arms to have an Oriental postcode.

Out East it's real. There's a seedier, seamier side to life which has its own cachet. "Darling, come 8 for 8.30. I'm just round the corner from the street where the twins murdered Jack `The Hat' McVitie," will add a certain frisson for those venturing for the first time out of the Peter Jones catchment area. I can't wait.

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