Monday, 22 June 2009

The Shock Of The Nice

It’s amazing. Every day, I am astounded. When I meet people here in Nice Heights, we say hello and share a smile (although the lads who giggled when they saw my tiny, Palaeolithic telly the day I moved in are bastards.) Other than that, I greet every morning like Pollyanna: “Hello neighbours! Hello cleaners! Hello…carpets!”
Sickening, isn’t it?

One girl struck up conversation in the lift, where we discussed how much we both enjoyed living here.
“It’s really quiet, isn’t it – like a posh hotel.” she said.
We had both lived in Dovecot standard newbuilds, and Nice Heights is a revelation.
“Our flat’s lovely,” she continued. “I’ve never heard a peep from the neighbours - and the rooms are ever so bright.”

Another woman stepped into the lift. Dressed immaculately, the interloper admired her own expensive shoes, and sneered as we shared memories of all the nasty places we’d lived previously while the lift loitered on the ground floor (my Dovecot tales won, of course.) Stylish woman pressed the button for the penthouses, and left without looking back. Of course she did. It’s interesting that the storey-based system denoting social-class I recognised from Dovecot Towers (higher=richer) is repeated here in Nice Heights.

I suspect that the predominantly friendly atmosphere is down to the varied nature of the inhabitants. I’ve seen people who are older. Shocking isn’t it? One elderly man said he had downsized, helped his children buy their own homes and moved to Nice Heights to enjoy the city. He liked going to concerts, museums, and the theatre. He also liked exploring, and was off for an urban adventure in sturdy hiking-boots.

Or is it the fact that people own their flats? I’ve noticed just a few people staying temporarily (the wheelie-cases are a giveaway) but mercifully, Nice Heights has no online presence as a party apartment-hotel. The guests here dress in suits – computer specialists and accountants in town for a short contract, and they make a refreshing change from stag-parties.

Does this sound boring? Perhaps my enduring memories of the chaos in my former home conspire to make the peace hereabouts seem remarkable. People with larger flats have terraces, useful for barbecues. No forty-eight hour parties, no squealing girls and boys bellowing like bulls. I’ve heard neighbours say:
“Time to head inside; don’t want to annoy the neighbours, do we?”
Crikey. Consideration.

Nice Heights is an upmarket design, but still lacks anything encouraging a sense of community. I’m not expecting a common room, but we have no communal areas, like gardens, or a seated reception (even in high-spec buildings, entrances are stark.) Encounters take place beside the rubbish bins, which, since they are located underground, gives a simple chat about the weather an illicit appeal.

But right now I am sitting in the sunlight lounge, with birds singing daintily in the distance, as ‘In Paradisum’ from Faure’s Requiem drifts faintly and beautifully into my room. I can almost imagine that behind every front door, there lives a reasonable person. No thumping techno. No random screaming. Is this what normal life is like?

(NB: Recently, there were two burglaries in here. The management company have kept us informed – another improvement on Dovecot Towers. Gangs are targeting city flats. Even our robbers are posh. CCTV footage shows smartly dressed thieves ‘tail-gating’ their way through the (very) secure main door. But at least we have a main door. And also CCTV.)


Neil80 said...

Sounds like you've managed to find an urban utopia in Nice Heights!

Interesting point about the correlation of altitude and social status, reminds me of that J. G. Ballard novel High Rise, probably modelled on Dovecot by the way you describe it.

RenterGirl said...

Thanks Neil80! It is nice here in..Nice Heights. I have read High Rise (at the suggestion of several readers) and you're right. It is (as with much of Ballard) as if he had a video in his head showing him the future. Although, it was mostly the visitors/intruders in Dovecot Towers who were feral (some tenants had their moments, though.) Thanks for your comments - and I had been thinking about getting some sort of Rentergirl badge, like a Blue Peter badge, but cheaper and less sought after. Then I remembered the strange looks I got when other bloggers saw my moniker on a name-sticker at a Manchizzle bloggers meeting.

MattW said...

Its encouraging to hear about the community feel of the block, Penny. Glad you have found a great place to live.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting somewhere decent to live, Renter Girl. You've done your time in hell.

RenterGirl said...

Thanks everyone for your good wishes! And I hope you're all safe, settled and comfortable as well.

Shoe said...

Terraces are great! As long as respected of course. I am lucky enough to rent a place with one, but I do feel the tiniest pang of guilt that my pleasure is depriving the entire ground floor of any natural light, though I prefer to blame the tree in the hospice behind which effectively blocks all natural light to me.

RenterGirl said...

I don't have a terrace. I dream of having a terrace. And shame on those selfish ill and dying people in the hospice for hogging all your precious sunlight.