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Basement living: Rab’s going down in the world

Rab will miss the birds in his new garden-less abode.
Rab will miss the birds in his new garden-less abode.

I am going down in the world. It may never happen but, later today, after I have given this column to the butler to post, I am off to view a basement flat.

It’s about as far from the life I crave as you could imagine: on a busy street near the town centre; no garden; no space; no air; not a mountain in sight.

However, it’s only a temporary measure until I find the above, though the longer things go on, I suspect I’ll end up back in a suburb somewhere. Ideally, I want to see the sea, but if I can at least see a pool of greenery I’ll be fairly satisfied.

I don’t know what it’s going to be like without a garden. It’s where I do my Chinese exercises; where I feed the birds; where I sit outside and read in summer. I’m in it every day. It’s a refuge to which I repair a dozen times or more.

I dare say that, wherever I end up during this residential hiatus, I’ll find somewhere green and quiet in the vicinity but, rather than just sauntering out as I am, I’ll have to wash my face and put on trousers.

There are other things I’m dreading, particularly noise. If I end up living below young persons playing their dreaded doomph-doomph-doomph “music” at top volume, I think it will destroy me.

I can’t begin to tell you how surprisingly upsetting I’ve found it to contemplate leaving my current home. I consider all the various plants I’ve planted. I look at the happy wee birds and think: “I doubt very much if the new people will feed you.”

But then I think I’m being silly. You have to move on and not be so absurdly maudlin. One of my neighbours also feeds the birds. And, as to new circumstances, human beings can adapt to everything.

Even more on the plus side, I’ll have a supermarket within walking distance (just as well as I won’t be able to park my car for miles). Not that I do it much nowadays, but I can nip out for a pint when I fancy.

I’m not necessarily against all bustle, and think it fine to experience it for a change. It is at least lively. There’s no doubt about it that life in a suburb can be a bit, well, lifeless. That all changes when I get out on my suburban hill, which I’ll still visit, even though it’ll be a car journey away.

Organising the removal has been nothing short of hellish, and I hereby vow that, after I move on from the temporary flat, I’m never moving again.

I’ve noticed that long-lived people often live in the same house for decades. By that token, I should be dead already. We all have a need to call somewhere “home”, and I think it preferable not to keep shifting it about.

Still, it’s all a bit of an adventure. I never seem able to settle down. And now down is where I’m going. I may find somewhere else, but time is running out. Farewell to air and grass and birdsong. Hail the bustle and shops and pubs and traffic, throughout which I will try to remember: what goes down must come up.

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