Posted by: Linda Proud | December 31, 2011

A Window on 2011

This is personal. I’m quite tempted not to do it, but while every news stream in the world is re-running tsunamis, nuclear meltdown, bankrupt nations, the ignominious deaths of dictators and riots in the streets, just for my own pleasure I want to note this as the year we got new windows.

View uncluttered by window frames

Pshaw! What a petty detail in the flow of time and event, new windows at no. 60, but these new windows could only have appeared in 2011 and sometimes such detail is a portal on to the life of ordinary mortals.

As banks wobbled our savings were under threat. As the interest rates stagnate, our savings evaporate. I’d already lost my pension thanks to the fund being with that blue chip, gilt-edged company, Equitable Life. The demise of Equitable Life, brought down by greedy shareholders with no thought to the common good, was one of the first rumbles of the coming storm.  So all we have in the bank is the balance between the sale of the last house and this one.

We started to spend it this time last year, when VAT was set to go up to 20%, and we had quite a spree but it was on fripperies such as Apple Macs, although we also bought a new boiler. In the spring our neighbour across the street moved away. She told us her house was on the market for £465K. Now she had an extension which we do not, but the house was full of problems with electrics, unfinished tiling, a front door that doesn’t open, so all in all we reckoned our house is worth much the same. It was then that we decided to spend our savings on house improvements.

The idea is that we increase its value for that time in the future when we have to leave (the stairs are too step to imagine living here into a ripe old age). Meanwhile, we get to enjoy the improvements. That part of the equation has certainly been proved right.

Front of house suffers trauma, but not for long

In this year we’ve put in a new fence in the back garden, turned the living room window into french doors, put new windows in the bedroom and bought an Everhot cooker. OK, the latter isn’t an investment in the future, unless we eventually sell the cooker with the house, but it sure has improved the quality of our lives. And we’re still working on the new kitchen that Her Ladyship demands. It’s mostly a refurb, but we’re tiling the floor and the walls and putting in a ceramic sink, and we still have some money left.

Our domestic goddess, Hestia, the warm heart of the house.

So that’s been our year, a year of renewal after the spate of deaths in 2009, a year in which in our own quiet way we meet the horror of the times by being happy and hopeful. It sometimes seems a queer contrast, but it’s not an untrue one. If any micro-historian is trawling the Cloud fifty years hence and wants to know what life was like for the individual, I hope this helps. Are we average? I don’t know. We live frugally in that we don’t have holidays and hardly use the car, we grow a large proportion of our own food and our spending is more considered these days, but we live in luxury. I feel very conscious of our great good fortune, not only in comparison with the Third World or Middle East, but also compared with the likely future of our children. Without doubt, we were born at the right time, and we are benefiting from it.

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