This summer, we moved from a big rented house into one that is much smaller, but ours. Even though there’s less space, it feels much better being in a place that’s ours, and I love not having to worry about the odd handprint on a white wall, or be inspected by officious lettings agents on a regular basis.
Best of all, though, I get to look out of the window. As we’re on a hillside, there’s always something to see. Outside the window is a tiny train station with no ticket office and one platform, and a freezing August evening with torrential rain, three railway employees stoically had what must have been a long-planned barbecue in the car park. They huddled together, sheltering the barbecue from the weather with their bodies, and made themselves hot dogs. After a while they spotted James, my visiting brother John, and me watching them from our window, and raised a glass to us.
When we moved in, we had a good view of a warship where green screens were erected, partly to ensure that no houses like ours appear in the background of the film World War Z, which they were filming there. In other words, Brad Pitt was in the area. Then he went home.
Straight after that, I got up early to work one morning and almost dropped my coffee when I looked out of the window and discovered that my normal view had been almost completely eclipsed by a gigantic cruise ship that had appeared overnight. I spent a long time with binoculars, watching people on the hundreds of decks. The holy grail was catching someone looking right back at me with their binoculars. It happened in the end.
I’m writing this now looking out of the window at station, harbour and town. There are lots of seagulls on a roof nearby, and a few pigeons fluttering around. Nothing much is happening. It is utterly hypnotic.