... to a woman who'll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you're in the wrong house, that's what it means."
That's how important the house is, to aforesaid Youngman and my young man. So when we went house hunting, last weekend, the air was rife with apprehension. "There are not too many houses/apartments in Northampton to choose from," A (my husband) had warned me already. Forewarned is forearmed, eh? Only in this case, forearmed for what? I saw some of the prettiest houses that day. A too conceded to that point and to a rather sheepish smile. He is prone to exaggeration (the small nuances of your partner -- ah, that probably merits another post to itself).
Six houses later we were running around in circles. We did not know which was to be ours. The beautiful house with the brand new carpets and wallpapers along with a blue, blue bathroom to steal the heart and its generous patch of garden, the other house split into three levels with a wooden patio perched upon the third level or the apartment with its ensuite bathroom and massive bedrooms. For once, we let practicality reign and gave in to the third option. With great reluctance on the part of A, and for once, an iron self-control on mine. The house is now some thing to look forward to. When we are not cash-strapped, when we can indulge in some expensive furniture investments. It is always nice to have some thing to look forward to, eh?
It was a gloomy day the day we went to Northampton. Yet, I was not overwhelmingly disappointed. Albeit, it is small. Yet, there is the freshness of a new place that always intrigues me.
What would living every day there be like, would I wake up and feel happy about heading out to the town centre, would I look forward to walking down its various streets every day, would I actually end up exploring its nooks and crannies, would I find a large library where I could spend endless hours smelling books and then stagger back home with stacks of them, and most importantly, would there be coffee shops to woo my cappuccino-craved senses? The prospects that a new town or city offers are endless. There is hardly any time to get bored (some thing that I know most of my relatives and friends find hard to believe, given that I am not in the throes of a full-time job).
What first struck me about Northampton was the beautiful parks dotting it. They were magnanimous landscapes of fluorescent green that even on that dull day, peppered with the bare bones of grey trees, lured me to take my imaginary dogs for a long, long walk.
The amusing bit is that there are references, dime-a-dozen, to Thomas Becket. If there is a Becket Ward at the local hospital, there is a park, a street name, a rotary club and schools dedicated to the Archbishop of Canterbury (from 1162 until his murder in 1170, during the reign of King Henry II). The link seems rather tenuous to me. According to wikipedia: "Henry summoned Becket to appear before a great council at Northampton Castle on 8 October 1164, to answer allegations of contempt of royal authority and malfeasance in the Chancellor's office."
The market square itself cheered me up about the move. It is an old, old square, and as with everything on this island, it comes armed with a charming veneer of history. The market dates back to 1235 when King Henry III forbade the selling of goods in the churchyard of All Saints. The Market, according to his orders, were then moved to a space north of the churchyard and remains there till date. This was the big space that I saw covered with dozens of blue canopies that were home to stalls selling fish, fresh rolls, coffee, antiques, army surplus, old books, bric-a-brac. An assortment, really. I cannot wait -- to start my explorations.
Interestingly enough, I could not help but notice a large number of young Goths hanging around town. Apparently, Northampton for all its quaint market square and cobbled streets is known for a sizeable population of Chavs and Goths. The Chav, if you do not know the species, is a notorious resident of the UK. He is atypical of the working class youth who wears branded designer sportswear, some form of bling jewellery, is always to be found with his hood on, and can be spotted from a distance. Or so my cousin says -- while a journalist describes the word Chav as "the vile word at the heart of fractured Britain".
On that particular day, however, I got the Gothic vibe. Shocking pink and electric blue and vibrant red mops of hair were complemented by dark smudges of lipstick, set off by dark eye make-up. So no surprises that the first English Gothic rock band, Bauhaus, came from Northampton in 1978.
Now how can a town such as this be boring? I tell myself, as I feel pangs of sadness and disquiet about leaving the familiar streets of Leicester. With its beautiful clock tower. The luscious smells of cheese and jalapeno pretzels hanging in the air of its rather happening and spacious mall. The Crumblin' Cookie, my favourite coffee bar with its perfect cup of frothy headed cappuccino and scones. And, oh, our first home together after our wedding.
Yet there remains the thrill of discovering the new.
A chapter closes and a new chapter unfurls.
Which reminds me off the top of my head. Of one of my favourite poets and his saying. That in the end is the beginning and in the beginning is the end.