Most people move house because their circumstances have become intolerable. Either their collection of antique brass spigots has grown too colossal for the spare room, or the neighbour's son has taken up the trombone, or there are spiders. It's usually one of these three things. But I have a compulsion to move for the opposite reason; it's been perfectly tolerable for 15 years now, and there's starting to be a danger that I'll still be here when all my teeth have fallen out and someone's coming around every week to see if I need any shopping doing. Just because my lease has 971 years left on it doesn't mean I'm obliged to see out the full term. So I'm going to live somewhere else.
Having made this decision for pretty frivolous reasons, I'm experiencing predictable spasms of doubt. A web of psychological bonds seems to tie me to this area, even thought I have no particular affection for it and only ever ended up here because I couldn't afford somewhere much nicer three miles up the road.
For example, I live within a few yards of a hospital, and it's become a comforting background presence. As I'm convinced I'll eventually meet my maker by choking to death, being within crawling distance of an A&E department where someone knows the Heimlich manoeuvre is something I subconsciously rely on. But try explaining that to an estate agent who's driving you to viewings in a branded Mini Cooper, and she'll look at you like you're an idiot.
There are other things I can't really put on my list of requirements for a new home, even though they've become part of my life. Sri Lankan takeaways need to be on hand in the event of culinary emergencies, of which there are many. There must be a drunk guy swearing at his ferocious dog every day outside Tile Magic; a man in a turban who'll mend my watch strap for four quid whenever it breaks – which is all the bloody time – and a fat bloke in a motorised wheelchair regularly zooming past the tube station at 1am carrying an acoustic guitar for no apparent reason. I'm fairly sure none of these things will appear in the estate agent's blurb; it'll say "676 sq ft property boasting a loo" or something. But weirdly, these are some of the things I'll miss the most.
- More about: