Thursday 22 April 2010

Grown up

April 1st was an important day for me. I passed from young and ambitious, to old and settled. The cause of this was not a birthday, but it was indeed an anniversary...and it brought a present with it.

It turns out, as I discovered by letter sometime in early March, that 25 years ago I took out a mortgage; my first mortgage. And this was in the days of endowment mortgages. And whilst the first flat is long gone, the endowment has been hanging around gathering cobwebs in the dusty cupboards. Like all those investments we were sold at the time, I was promised a very handsome return on my investment, and unfortunately, as we now know, I'm not a banker and my reward is less than it should be. I'd like to say that my endowment is smaller than it should be, but I realise that will only get Auntie Gwen tittering. She's like that.

My first flat was in Brighton. Hove Actually. And was typical of the local architecture - bow fronted, with a balcony. Beautiful. It had just been modernised, so I had central heating. But like most of the properties in Brighton and Hove it had been refurbished by the sort of builder that might otherwise be described as a cowboy. I was quite lucky - my biggest problems were radiators that would develop little holes, showering the room with water of various temperatures. If I'd wanted a fountain, I'd have asked for it. Whenever my upstairs neighbour flushed her loo, it filled with hot water. Within six months, my neighbour at the back of the building had all her tiles fall off the bathroom wall. And there were other horrors in every flat.

And like the rest of Hove, the residents were a little eccentric. The somewhat secretive man on the top floor disappeared in his rusting Porsche one day, never to be seen again. The flat had been abandoned, and his creditors when they reclaimed the flat, had to call in the council because he had kept a pet owl which flew around depositing whatever owls deposit all over everything.

Still it was a nice flat, with fifteen foot high ceilings. And it was mine. I felt proper grown up, when on my first morning I placed an order with the milk man for a pint a day. Only grown ups did that.

The endowment is now safely deposited in my bank. It wouldn't buy a flat these days. It wouldn't buy a room even. Some will go to paying off debts. And some will go to new flooring in the Brighton flat that I bought when I sold this one.

But it feels as though this was a significant moment. The sort of thing that only real grown ups have.

Copyright note: these are not my pictures and the copyright of the owners is acknowledged