I've been playing video games since pretty much the dawn of video games, back in the 70s and early home-consoles of Pong and Breakout. I still occasionally play video-games...
My hometown. Moved here in 1970 (when I was 3) and stayed until I left for University in 1985. Moved back here - to the house I was brought up in - in December 2015. Have to say, I rather like it here. Central London is 40 mins from my front door, yet Carshalton still feels villagey, despite its Greater London postcode. And there are a LOT of pubs :-)
Another house update. Seeing as how we live in a permanent state of building site, it seems only fair to share the occasional milestone, each incremental step we take towards an Ideal Home...
When we moved into this house, the bathroom was high on the list of 'must gos': A 40-year-old avocado bathroom suite, cracking floral tiles floor-to ceiling, ceiling paper hanging down in fronds, the ceiling barely able to support the downlighters I'd had installed during initial rewire. Most vile of all, the toilet waste was encrusted with limescale which meant it blocked on a weekly basis. Experience has taught me that the only equipment that would help unblock it was a pair of rubber gloves and, also, that manual evacuation of the toilet is, exclusively, a 'man's job'. Or so it seems.
But it wasn't worth doing anything about it until we had a spare bathroom, which was on the cards too. So we've only just done something about it.
Before. Really, quite ghastly. Even the panels on the side of the bath were missing, because I accidentally threw them out:
So I did some planning and design. Because I always do some planning and design:
And then I let Greg, Jacek and Maciej of Octopus Plumbing start ripping stuff out:
On the whole, this didn't improve the look of the room. Fortunately, it gave Maciej and Jacek lots to moan about (I now know Polish for 'right-angle', 'perpendicular' and 'wall of dogshit'). I don't know the Polish for 'bodge-job' because it's not in these guys' vocabularies. If they do anything, they do it properly, professionally and effectively. And curse about it, in Polish, you don't actually need to know the words. Can't rate them highly enough.
Jacek is the Lublin Bathroom King. Started with a dust-ridden, wonky husk of a room, squared it all up, plastered, raised the floor, boarded the ceiling, wired in underfloor heating, installed extractor...
Then tiled it, beautifully, as only a perfectionist can. Must drive Greg up the wall...
Finally, put a bathroom in it. Short of LED mirror at time of writing, as it was chipped - new one coming this week.
We are very happy. We now have two open-plan bathrooms. Doors next week, fingers crossed...
Tricky, isn't it? You move into your family home, and find yourself left with two massive boxes of your parents' memories - '000s of photos, cricket-scorecards, panto programmes, entertainment and TV contracts, National Service mementoes... Well, my sister finds it tricky, I tend to be a bit more ruthless about it: Unless it speaks to me and my memories of my parents, it's going in the bin. If it has a sliver of personal context, I'll digitise it - and then it goes in the bin. One or two choice items, I'll make something to remind me or others of them... and hang it in the house. Which was theirs, before it was ours.
Life goes on.
...a shedload of which has been eaten in this room over the years. Because, when the family moved here in 1971, this room became my Nan's kitchen (she'd lived with my parents since they married - or, perhaps more accurately, they had lived with her). Nana used to do inhouse school-run and babysitting duties (lucky parents, do you know what we have to pay for that stuff nowadays?!) and typically this is where I would end my primary-school day, scoffing Nimble toast with apricot jam. Nimble toast is basically crisp air: you can eat a loaf a sitting.
When my Nan died, the room was left empty - until my Dad started using it in his last few years - we moved him onto the middle floor and installed a stairlift, as his mobility was pretty limited, but he had to be within reach of a bathroom.
So, after my Dad died, the room looked like this:
We ripped out the kitchen before we made any decision to move into 102, as no-one would lend on a property that had two kitchens - it put off buyers.
Then we decided to move in. And I had to have a room that I could work from, as did Al. Told the sparks that Nana's kitchen was now the study, please string some Cat6 to the cupboard under the stairs and put in lots of points:
In time, we stripped it, had it replastered, put downlighters in the ceiling, removed the gas connections, replaced the radiator, installed bamboo flooring, new double-glazing, had shelves built, finally emptied 20 boxes of books, sprayed some paint around:
And then we had venetians put in throughout the house, bought some proper desks, rejigged the arrangement a bit, hung my guitars on the walls (territory thing)... and it looks like this:
Also: I bought the world's best office chair. Call me fickle.
Not quite finished yet. Think the lighting needs some twiddling. But I love this room and spend a lot of time in it - if I work from home, this is where I am all day. It's 50:50 whether this is my favourite so far, or our bedroom, which was Nana's lounge - more on that later. Most of all, I take huge pleasure in the fact that, 40 years ago, I was sitting no more than 3 feet from where I am now - loving apricot jam, on Nimble toast.