My very first blog post was about the sale of the house I was renting, and the imminent need to find new accommodation as a matter of urgency. (I’d set up the free blog account about six weeks earlier. Inspiration does not come to me easily.) My post gave an honest account of the deplorable condition the house had fallen into over the decades before I moved in, and pretty much every punter who inspected the place before the auction made no secret of their plans to gut the structure for renovation, if they were legally prevented from razing it entirely.
I’ve just returned from an unexpected trip to Australia, and one afternoon I happened to walk down my old street. I wondered what the old dump looked like now it had been cleaned ip.
Pretty much nothing’s happened to it in the last eight years. In fact, it looks worse. The old doorbell’s been removed, the windows in the front door crudely patched over, and random sections of the front wall have been painted various shades of grey. A new shed’s been erected in the back yard, but other than that there’s no sign of work done.
When Google Street View first came to Australia I looked up this street but it wasn’t covered. I just checked again and it is now, with photos from late 2009. In that photo it looks no different from when I left it, so these tentative changes are even more recent. Looks like the new owners work even more slowly than I do.
Well it’s about time! I presume they save the wood for next year.
How long do these sukkahs stay up for? Wikipedia tells me “a week” but my neighbours on both sides have had theirs in the backyard for nearly a month now. Maybe they’re following some secret, extra-pious rule like the Vatican do by waiting until February to clear away their nativity tat.
Barely cognisant of my own religion, let alone anyone else’s, I was intrigued when the neighbours started constructing what appeared to be a large plywood box on their back lawn. For a few days I imagined that Scott Walker was about to start recording a new album in my street, or that the local kids who play in the yard were about to be saturated with orgones. No-one had ever told me that the Jewish religion obliges its followers to perform annual DIY.
You’ll have noticed the railings above the roof, showing that the local sukkahs have been adapted to suit British conditions: a tarpaulin can easily be drawn over the traditional branches covering the roof, to keep out the rain. This also explained the unusual addition permanently attached to the shed on the other next-door neighbours’ house.
When I first moved in I noticed the translucent roof mounted on pulleys and assumed the residents were keen amateur astronomers, who kept a telescope handy for backyard stargazing. Nope. Another retractable roof to keep the branches dry. Although it does seem a bit like cheating to have a permanent lean-to on your house and just chuck some branches on top when sukkot rolls around each year for Instant Sukkah.
I just explored one of the last unopened boxes that I packed before leaving Melbourne eighteen months ago. Amongst the electronic gear stuffed inside was an ancient Sony Discman. I popped the lid open and found Disc 2 of a three-CD set of John Cage’s Etudes Australes. It looks like I left the country in a bigger hurry than I remembered.
Me, this weekend: