I love where I live.
Do I look out of my window onto rolling fields with a babbling brook playing gently down the middle over moss covered stones? No. I look out onto an Indian restaurant and an MOT centre.
Do I have a tastefully landscaped driveway, winding up to a double fronted, Victorian house with woodwork painted in co-ordinating shades from Fired Earth? No. I live in a mid-terrace with not enough parking and walls so thin you can hear every light switch being flicked on and every annoying, shift-working neighbour’s alarm clock at 4.30am.
Do my children run, carefree through our half an acre of thoughtfully planted trees, wildflowers and herbaceous borders (and the odd vegetable patch with vintage slate markers, designating the rows of purple sprouting broccoli and salsify)? No. We have a shed (workshop if you’re speaking to my Screwfix-mad husband, shed if you’re talking to me); some rosebushes that were planted by the last-but-one owner, which are pretty for 2 days a year and then infested with greenfly for the rest of the summer and a cat litter “house”, affectionately known as the Poo Pagoda, which gets filled up with said poo after 3 days and is then wilfully ignored by both of our feline friends in favour of the weed filled flowerbeds.
We have 4 Chinese takeaways (one of which is constantly in the local newspaper – and I don’t mean with a half page advert or a coupon offer if you catch my drift...) and 2 Chinese restaurants – both of which are ridiculously expensive an d have the local clientele divided exactly down the middle as to which is the best. Is it the one which has the 70’s style keyboard player after dinner, who is replaced by the even more exciting DISCO at Christmas time!? Or is it the one with the fish tank wall outside the toilets, where they fill your glass up after every sip to make sure you are properly wankered (and broke!) after every visit?
We have 4 Indian restaurants/takeaways, but by the time I hit “publish” on this blog entry, it may have changed, so please no outraged comments about the other 2 or 3 I have forgotten. They will have gone again by the time you finish registering your email address to Blogger so that you can add your comments...
There are copious bakers, hairdressers, cafes and butchers – far more than is necessary to service a community of our size. On the face of things, we are the takeaway capital of Hampshire and whilst several of my fellow residents were clearly strongly opposed to the well known pizza chain that wanted to join the other 3 Italian restaurants/pizzerias (it was 4, but they had stiff competition in the in-house keyboard player department from the aforementioned overpriced Chinese and went under...) I say – bring it on!! We are clearly a collection of lazy, cash-rich-time-poor, greedy gits who can’t cook a meal to save our lives.
Despite all of the smells (and there are many), the neon lights and the potential health hazards - you know which takeaway you are – my “village” is the only place I want to be.
“OK Molly”, I hear you say. “Clearly once you have made your fortune and published a collection of your inane rantings in your critically acclaimed book, ‘AnthoMollogy’, you will be off to Devon in a flash, never again to shop in North Camp for a stale doughnut or heavily discounted golf club. But, and this is the truth, whilst I may purchase a delightful holiday cottage by the sea in the South West (probably next door to Kirsty Allsopp), I will NOT be leaving my beloved North Camp. Not never.
For all its faults, it is, quite simply, fabulous. The people that live here are second to none. Every time I step outside my front door, I am greeted with a smile, a wave and/or a friendly wolf whistle (and not in a horrible, sexist builder kind of way...) from the garage across the road. My husband has developed such a wonderful friendship with the guys in the Indian across the road, I never have to buy beer for him (as long as we lend them a dining room chair every once in a while) and the manager of the Co-op is always smiling and calls me madam. I love that. I didn’t 2 years ago, but I do now.
My children attended the best pre-school that hardly any money/all the money in the world can buy and are now flourishing in an Outstanding school where they, and I, have made friendships that I am sure will last forever. Or at least until one of them goes off the rails in later years and we have to make a whole new set of friends. The best bit is – I can walk them there. I can also walk to my best friend’s house, at least 4 pubs, 2 cash points and 4 charity shops.
I know at least 30 people who would happily take my kids to school for me if I was ill or had a childcare issue and I would let at least 25 of them actually do it! Yes. I want a bigger house so that I can buy loads more stuff from Tiger, my own driveway and a kitchen that you can walk past someone in without touching them inappropriately. But would I sacrifice all of these things to stay in my lovely North Camp? In a heartbeat. Probably a slightly irregular heartbeat due to the build up of takeaway fats in my arteries, but you get the idea.
I only hope that everyone can find their own North Camp Village – just please don’t come to mine, because the parking is bad enough thanks...