Saturday, 23 November 2013

And At Houses

A house is such an ordinary thing, but they are so different everywhere. All the houses my parents have lived in together were smaller or bigger versions of a single design, which for perhaps a century around 1900 was a popular, common, and pretty good design for a comfortable house that's suitable for the English climate.

It has bay windows (if you can afford them, and especially if they can face southwards) for maximum light, and a big block of brick down an inside wall (a wall shared with the next house) to retain heat from multiple fireplaces. Every room has some sort of window, and the nicest room is the one with the nicest window. There is a sloping roof for the rain to trickle off, and a back door, usually opening from the kitchen. There is a little bit of space behind the house, where you grow grass, flowers, or vegetables as inclination or necessity drives, and (if you can afford it) a smaller bit in front. In past times the toilet would also be out there, then they came inside and were put upstairs. If you can afford it, there might be two front doors with a little porch in-between, keeping warmth in and mud out. The house is on two floors, with the bedrooms upstairs (although around here, few can afford a whole house, so most are divided into two or more awkward flats).

The house I stayed in, however, was a completely different design, with all the large, cool, windowless rooms opening off a terrace or all-around balcony that was originally open-walled and now has large, openable cloud-glass windows. The tremendous rain runs quickly down drains in the flat roof terrace and on the balconies - and, if necessary, down the front steps, which are marble, a storey high, and have a wrought-iron door that opens directly onto the street. The neighbouring dwelling is underneath it, follows the same shape, and has its own door. There is no other entrance or exit. There are similar-looking houses in Paris, but I've never actually been inside one.

Outside my room:

Little Suitcase

1 comment:

Tangocommuter said...

I thought it was a tease then read that Darwin really did visit 'Buenos Ayres', and on horseback from the south, counting owls, presumably.

Can we look forward to Mr Darwin's comments on the dance halls and ballrooms?