Expressing it in millions does'nt really help. We have just offered a quarter of a million dollars for a practically derelict, possibly structurally unsound, small inner city terrace in the UK's second worst place to live. This is actually an improvement on the position if we'd have done the same thing last year, because since we've arrived, Hull has been elevated from the worst place to live in the UK to the second worst place to live in the UK.
Furthermore, the house has almost no garden, and sitting tenants in the form of a Polish family who could kibosh the whole deal if they decide not to move out. When we visit the house, the teenage sons of the household are at home, looking after their younger brothers. It is a touching, fraternal scene; THIS is what extended families are all about. With plaster falling off the walls, the elder brothers are guiding their younger siblings through a complicated computer game, in their bedroom, the walls of which are plastered in hard core porn. And no, Grasshopper, I do'nt mean pawn.
The realtor is refreshingly unlike any Canadian realtor we met. Where a Canadian realtor would tell us that the property needs some "TLC", Emma, our English professional tells me, "I hope you've brought a mask - the smell in here is terrible". She volunteers that the house is "completely run-down, a total mess", when a Canadian would emphasize it's "good bones". She tells me that the UK housing market is in meltdown, and that the seller, whom she represents, will be lucky to get the asking price. Michelle Zareski, the Canadian realtor who sold our house in Halifax is spinning in her hypothetical, future, grave. How, on Earth, asks hypothetical Michelle, can you deal in property in an honest and straightforward manner if you don't excessively flatter your clients and lie to them at every available opportunity?
Measurement of Hull's status is not, for once in this country, a matter of committee or stakeholder decided, but rather is based on a statistical analysis of conditions in all 434 municipalities in England, Scotland and Wales, using measurements of crime rates, unemployment rates, environmental factors, access to Health Care, Educational facilities and leisure activities. The stats are presented by a programme called "Relocation, Relocation", but after careful checking, they do correspond closely with an annual Government analysis, and are not just sensational televisual hype.
For those who did'nt watch the programme, excerpts are reproduced below, including the first excerpt which features the second BEST place to live in the country, Winchester. Te rest of the clips belong to Hull. Excuse the editing, I have not yet mastered this facilty, I just hope you get the general idea. The only explanatory comments I can add to the videos are that we live in "The Avenues" and they are pretty cool, that the beer is cheap(and it shows) and that regeneration in the UK seems to be ubiquitous. I just don't understand what the regeneration is based on, unless it is an endless loop of credit. A snake, which surely, must swallow it's own tail at some point. Incidentally, view the first video twice and take note of the cost of a one bedroom flat - £200,00 or $450,000. It makes our purchase look like a bargain.
Fortunately, for The Boffin and I, these statistics are, at the moment moot points, and largely irrelevant to our life. Hull's fortunes do not really impinge on our life in a significant way, apart from my necessary commute, but the roots of why I have to commute are so far in the past, (related to decisions I made in my twenties), that much as I want to, I cannot blame anyone but myself (and possibly Transpennine Express) for my commute. Anyway, having now both secured gainful employment, we are, for the moment well insulated from the realities of Hull.
For me at least, we have happy cats; a new, burgeoning career as a wordsmith; the Boffin's career is going well; we have some money to play with; good friends;we've sold the house in Canada; we have a Halloween Party to plan for AND we've sold our car in Canada without any penalty. For us, from here on in, things can only get better, and they were pretty good to begin with. Excuse the punctuation in this paragraph, I an unforgiveably unaware of the correct form.
Tomorrow may therefore see us in theoretical possession of a quarter million dollar house. Naturally, you are all invited to stay. Just do'nt scratch the wood floors.