Life for tenants is a madcap relay of constant moving, all speeded up like a Benny Hill sketch to the sound of funny banjo music. We relocate more than homeowners - potentially every six months if we’re unlucky, which judging from your comments and emails, many are.
It’s very bad for the nerves. Most newbuilds are specifically aimed at renters who’s life-cycle is: move in/get out/then more of the same all over again, it’s bizarre that these specialist, modern constructions manage to make moving so difficult. For one thing, newbuilds have nowhere for vans and lorries to park, and we’ve all been faced on a stressful day with tetchy friends and removal companies waving those inevitable and extortionate parking tickets, which we have to pay.
In modern buildings, there is no freight lift. Moving belongings via a small, creaking elevator, hoping that your vast collection of ancient vinyl doesn’t conspire to send everyone plummeting into the basement is a stressful, albeit character-building test.
Conversions present a different challenge. Internal remodelling fits the original, historic shape and layout of the building, so there are often random pillars blocking foyers, compelling irate removal men to perform a sort of country dance, do-si-doing through double-doors and twirling around posts with heavy boxes and fragile plants. Maybe the answer to the question: “How did they get that enormous sofa through that narrow door and into that tiny lounge,” is the same as: “How did they get that ship into that bottle.”
We used to have this under control. Whenever I pass older structures, like converted canal or roadside warehouses, I notice the original rooftop hoists, ingenious and ideal for lifting goods up the outside of the building if too large or heavy to risk the elevator. I want them back. Bring back external hoists. We want rooftop hoists, and we want them now.
The best example of a humane design which acknowledges the trials of life can be found in a council block in Salford. Residents always wondered about the cubby-hole/niche at the bottom of the back wall of their lift. What was it for? Enquiries revealed that the space was created to allow coffins to lie flat when the occupant made their last relocation to that sitting tenancy in the sky. It makes me wonder how undertakers arrange that same journey from an urban newbuild.
Why does this matter? Well, soon I’m going to be moving again. This time its career related (please don’t ask why - I have a life outside of this blog.) But I’m off elsewhere, so once again I must pack, find another home, move everything, and then unpack again (using my hoard of banana boxes.) My friends say, put it in the blog - put it in the book, but it’s another unavoidable move and I’m dreading it already, really, absolutely and completely dreading it.
More than anything else, I just wish I could put Nice Heights on wheels and take it with me on a monster truck.