Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Suburban Life with a Capital "S"

As you may have picked up, I struggled growing up in Essex surrounded by ordinary boys, shopping precincts and the temptations of Raffles cigarettes and deodorant abuse. Later I struggled in different ways when I lived in Soho - night-time screaming (mostly outside the flat) and the tang of urine in the air (ditto). Through it all one thing I was sure of was that I would never settle for life in the suburbs; no child of mine would be exiled to the limbo of not city, not country, just there.

Plans change and so on Friday we "complete" in Hampstead Garden Suburb. Completion smacks ominously of a final solution when all it actually means, I have to keep telling myself, is that we are finally purchasing a house. A house with a garden, with 3 bedrooms and with downstairs toilet (I would say "loo" if I wanted to impress, but I'm feeling obtuse). But there really is no escaping the fact that we are settling down to life in the burbs.

Don't get me wrong, I love our bijou cottage - I'm just a bit uncomfortable with how the name of the area sounds. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and hated my too-common surname and, after dipping into one of my mother's romantic novels (if you can call Harold Robbins romantic), became inspired to start practising signing my name "Louise Hartington".

I suppose the "Hampstead" part of the name impresses everyone who's not actually from London, so they imagine our neighbours will be Glenda Jackson and Emma Thompson when the reality is actually Charlie the estate agent who sold us the house. And the "Garden Suburb" confuses pretty much everyone who knows me ("will you er ... garden?") bar family who feel vaguely reassured by it.

Rob has made it clear he will be telling everyone we live in Golders Green - which is where we've lived for most of our adult lives, is literally around the corner and where I now sit in our flat we purchased over eight years ago. "The Suburb" or "HGS" is just around the corner, a matter of feet - but this feels different, Golders Green is, for me, transitory and therefore reassuring.

So in two days' time I am making not only a massive commitment to my relationship, to a garden, and life with two khazis to clean, but most scary of all, a commitment to suburban life. Blimey. Next thing you know I'll have learnt how to drive and so will be committed to society to a horrifyingly functional extent.

Wish us luck.

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