Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Squeezed Middle

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Squeezed Middle

Article excerpt

Shhh, don't tell Curly. I am looking in the estate agent's window. I am not supposed to do this. Just as other people are addicted to class-A substances, to porn, or to internet gambling, I am addicted to gazing through the windows of estate agents.

This is my first relapse for a while; it's probably been, ooh, two weeks since the last time I looked. The nice terrace off the high street has been snapped up for the extortionate sum of [pounds sterling]325,000. No surprise there. More worryingly, the flat on our road has been reduced, but then it has swirly wallpaper and no central heating and was originally on the market for [pounds sterling]200,000. Perhaps there is some sanity in the world, after all.

My eye wanders longingly across the card advertising a large terraced house by the park. It's the Platonic ideal of a middle-class family home: sturdy, red-brick, period features; a sitting room with a fireplace, and a garden. It wins a Brucie bonus for having a wisteria, my favourite creeper (yes, I have a favourite creeper) growing over the door.

I won't look at the price just yet. The bustle of the high street recedes and I slip off into my favourite fantasy: summer evenings in the garden, dinners alfresco; cosy winter afternoons eating scones before the open fire; raucous Sunday lunch parties with a full-sized table to sit around; somewhere to put the Lego; a room for each child--no more moving cots around and unfolding furniture in the dead of night; a book-lined study in which I could pursue my Improving Activities or slip off to for a quiet doze. …

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