A Farewell to Balham*

ToodlepipYep, it’s that time at last. There comes a point in every young man’s life when he decides to fly the coop; usually about the same time that the young man realises he’s living in a coop, not a house. This is why coops are constructed at ground level, as the young man will shortly make a second horrible discovery, and no-one wants him to fall too far.

Anyway, the point of this is that Will and I are moving away from Balham, our home for the last four years. In that time, like a weary pornstar it’s gone from up and coming to well and truly upped and come. The borough of a thousand catchphrases is now positively glowing and sticky with respectability; we even have an organic supermarket, where the organs are plentiful but shoppers still somewhat scarce.

In our time at this house we have set fire to many things. Dan set fire to the whole garden almost as soon as we got here. Will set fire to an electronic dancing chicken. We set fire to enough Christmas trees to fuel a fragrantly pine-scented power station. We set fire to a whole pig. Will wanted to set the pig spinning at 120rpm while on fire, but we thought that would have been a bit showy. Understatement is everything when you’re setting fire to pigs.

But it’s not all been conflagration. We built a snowman in the front doorway one winter, and a passing Brazilian asked us to take his photo with it. The snowmanwall melted (overnight; not because of the Brazilian’s immense warmth), deluging the basement (and thus Tim, who was occupying it at the time) with frigid water. Oh, how we laughed. Speaking of the basement, we had an indigent millionaire living down there for a while, which was as confusing as it sounds. In fact, the basement has been occupied for a total of over a year since we moved in, despite the rather obvious downsides of slugs and descending snowmen to name but two.

Anyway. Having remained here while, by my count, no fewer than 14 other residents passed through, it’s time for pastures new. In my case that involves a daring voyage north of the river where I shall join the residents of Kentish Town in fending off disoriented trendies overflowing from Camden; in Will’s case he’s going to live in an actual pasture for a bit. The young man never falls far from the coop.

* This only works if you pronounce Balham “Blaahm”, as a posh person might. Try it with a nice Chablis, or while striking a poor person.

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