Okay, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been as quiet as Marcel Marceau and prolific as Peter Gabriel. I have reasons for this. I always have reasons.
The main one is that Clare, her wonderful 4 year-old daughter Lily, Kiki the family Kat and your’s truly are moving to a stylish newbuild apartment this weekend. Or maybe it’s a flat. I’m not affiliated with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors so can’t tell the difference between the two. I’ve got a hunch that ‘flat’ and ‘apartment’ are pretty much interchangeable. The latter is probably a rebranding of the former designed to appease those aspirational types we all know and love. In any case, it certainly sounds a lot more wanky.
This move is a Big Deal for me. It’s also a Big Deal for Clare, Lily and quite possibly Kiki too, of course, but this is a blog and – by definition – I’m permitted to exercise a certain level of self-absorption. I’m not normally like this, you understand.
The apartment (or flat) is in Kings Norton. Or Kings Heath. I’m not quite sure about that, either. The postcode is B30 – which reliable sources inform me is a Kings Norton postcode – but it’s only a five minute walk away from my one-time, Kings Heath-based bachelor-pad flateau. If I’m moving into a new, unchartered part of Brum it certainly doesn’t feel that way, but that may have something to do with the fact I’ll be using the same fish and chip shop.
Part of me rather likes the idea of living in Kings Norton, but it’s not due to any postcode snobbery or aspirational bullshit. For one thing, living in an area I technically haven’t lived in before adds another notch to my Birmingham postal-district bedpost (I’ve been ’round the block a few times – just check the voter’s register…). More importantly, though, the word itself – ‘Kings Norton‘ – resonates with me because it reminds me of Norton I, the first and only Emperor of the United States of America.
Joshua Norton, in case you don’t know, was a failed English businessman who ended up homeless and destitute in mid-19th Century San Francisco. In 1859 he proclaimed himself ‘Emperor of the United States’ (later adding ‘Protector of Mexico’ to his illustrious title), and for the rest of his life the people of San Francisco treated him as such. He issued proclamations, arbitrated disputes and even issued his own currency. When he died in 1880 as many as 30,000 people lined San Francisco’s streets to pay tribute. Needless to say, he’s one of my favourite historical figures.
By contrast, the word ‘Kings Heath’ now makes me think of dead movie stars.