Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bernard Trafford [.]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Bernard Trafford [.]

Article excerpt

Byline: BERNARD TRAFFORD COLUMNIST

SOME people about are hard to live with. Take 66-year-old tycoon Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, who owns a three-storey Georgian house in Kensington (naturally, worth squillions). She took umbrage when neighbours blocked her application to demolish the house and rebuild it, adding a vast double basement with swimming-pool and cinema. In retaliation, she's painted the house in red-and-white candy stripes.

This kind of thing drags down a neighbourhood: next door might be hard put to get PS10m if they put their house on the market.

This is, I'm assured, a common problem nowadays. All over London, billionaires are insisting on moving half their houses underground. By the way, pools and cinemas are old hat: nowadays whole living-rooms and kitchens are going subterranean.

I'm puzzled. Just how big a house does anyone need, however wealthy they are? If they live in a huge metropolis, why expect s have a swimming-pool? Come to that, who needs a "home cinema"? I marvel at the picture-quality of the 40-inch TV in my sitting-room, great for watching DVDs. For a big screen, I go to a real cinema.

It's not about keeping up with the Joneses: it's life as a cosseted hermit.

These people put everything they could possibly want in their colossal, luxuriously-appointed home (even if daylight's rare in the basement) so they need never mix with ordinary people.

I have a solution for this problem. Whoever wins the forthcoming election should pass a law requiring everyone who wants to excavate a basement in the London area, however wealthy they are, to do so in a designated area of Kensington (a patch of London I've never cared for). There, they can dig holes with impunity: and if their houses start to tumble into one another's caverns, no one else will give a damn.

Everything I've written so far suggests that Ms Lisle-Mainwaring is an obnoxious neighbour. Actually, I'm not sure she is. The stripes on her Georgian house are rather cheery, giving the appearance of a gigantic deckchair. Frankly, much of wealthy London is so po-faced that her bit of mischief-making adds a light-hearted tone to a rather serious street. …

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