05 May 2018


When I bought the house on Victoria Road last year, there had been plans to have work done on it. The house is, after all, Edwardian, which means a hundred years old or nearly, and the house had a list of things that needed doing. This list, I had proudly said to people, was what I had used to negotiate a lower price for the house, but after the sale finished, it felt like a burden and wondered if it would have been better to just buy something else, on another road. My passion, however, for Victoria Road in Harborne hasn't been rational, so we started to chip away at the list.

The main building that needed doing was the renovation of the kitchen and the conversion of the upstairs bathroom into a bedroom, or moving the bathroom downstairs, depending on how I explained it. Discussion of this project always included the word 'nightmare' when I spoke with my faithful British friends and colleagues who had done work on their houses. Everyone had a nightmare story, and spoke about it as a necessary evil, which makes up most of life in the UK, I've come to believe — a series of necessary evils. The list of things that can go wrong at any one time is frankly staggering.

Still though, I got the quotes and Wayne the Builder said he could squeeze us in before spring, and before I knew it, we had spent the first ten thousand pounds on the architect and planning and first round of breaking down the walls. The space started out as an image on an Ikea planning screen and then piece by piece came together until last week when Wayne came the last time, and I bought the emulsion paint and finally did the painting I needed to. I resealed the sink and counters and put the toilet paper holder up, the one that said Victoria on it. I wiped paint from the floor.

Of course, the work will go on and on: the house of Victoria Road has years of projects to be done, one imagines. But for now, I had wondered what it would be like to stand in a space that wasn't in the house before, how you could create a space to live where there wasn't one before. Now, there is this space, a concept that became physical, the word made flesh as it were. The light pours in now, there is no stopping it.