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The houserichness scale
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Image by Julian Partridge
* Remember: a ‘house’ is not a ‘home’ and a better home is not a bigger building.

I walked thru the common yesterday (feeling somewhat below par on the homefulness scale) but still of quiet contentment in the very hot sunshine.

Some slight school girls were rowing single boats on the river, being coached by an obese woman on the river bank. One girl capsized up the river and the news came back to the boat club where the coach was (opposite my park bench seat on the other riverbank) via another rowing girl who was just returning from the scene; the coach promptly running off to tend to the incident in her bare feet, midriff wobbling disastrously as she lumbered away non-athletically.

As this event unfolded, another woman on my side of the river called out after the girl rowing back who had announced the calamity, enquiring of who it was. Clearly this woman was the mother of the girl she was calling to (she had been taking photos of her daughter at her rowing club activities gleefully just before) and was keenly trying to keep involved with her daughter’s life. Her daughter called back from her rowing boat, whist still heaving on her oars to move farther away from her mother there on the riverbank ‘It’s Jenny again!’ or some such name… And then, very politely but assertively to her embarrassing mother, in her small voice: ‘…Please go away!’

The woman’s partner laughed and I smiled and the woman got the point. Nice!

I had been in town, I had sat under a big old oak tree that I felt was welcoming, with its broad shady spot under it, to eat my self-cooked flapjack and drink my pint of milk just purchased from M&S for 49p (I’d avoided the 59p equivalent ‘lunch deal’ at Boots), and I had kept a clear distance away from the usual suspects who were drinking and loud socialising, with their dogs rolling happily in the grass, who were just back from my tree. And then I had strolled back towards my Mum’s place, and had spotted this welcoming bench by the river and so had made a direct assault on it across the grass (enjoying the feeling of not obeying the ‘rules’ of walking the way the path wanted me to walk)…

And I had sat comfortably on this bench – all splatted with bird shit etc etc as they are – and I had enjoyed watching the girls rowing efforts for a spell (thinking of my daughter doing the same some long time ago).

And then it was time to go back inside (I had things to do that needed me to be somewhere inside to be productive). So I got up and walked along the path to the bridge.

A man held the gate open at the bridge for a young mum with a posh pushchaired toddler in train to let her pass easily (and before him), seeming proud of his civility. She had in turn taken his kindness all right but had somehow gotten away with avoiding to return him the favour of giving him a commensurate thank-you smile.

I walked up the concrete ramp of the footbridge to switch back onto the bridge proper and walk across to the other bank (the one where the obese rowing coach operated) and as I walked in the hot sun I instinctively surveyed the territory for potential rough-sleeping ‘house’ space opportunities (bridge, shelter from rain, dry earth, ground warm to sleep on, space dark underneath, hidden…) and the thought promptly came to me: good house for a tramp, this! And then, with my now instinctive, new-found insight: I bet it’s already occupied!!

And sure enough, in the darkness of the underside of the concrete switchback, there was a dirty blanket and a plastic bag. A bedroom.

No one was ‘home’ but it looked ‘reserved’ – the blanket laid out much like the German pool Meisters do to monopolise all the deckchairs around your hotel pool in Costa del Wherever. If you wanted to imperialise this cosy blanket space to make it your own under-a-bridge-near-the-river-not-far-from-a-free-public-loo-and-Aldi’s (25p per pint milk) homestead, then you’d have to fight for it.

As I write this on my phone, sitting nicely by a desk fan in my free ‘office’ in the library near Mum’s, I am aware people on housing benefit are now being charged spare room tax to force them out of their ‘unjustly hoarded’ over-rich house space – an idea pushed forward by a group of people with surely what must be the most excessively over-rich personal allocation of land and buildings on the planet!!

Hmmm??

And then there’s that emasculated, watered-down council housing system that isn’t a housing system at all! And that ‘zero homelessness’ strategy obligation, that sham of a concoction of ‘compassionate’ government Newspeak that council CEO’s (probably multi-housed, holiday property endowed, yacht owning, humble working folk just like you and me are) are required to publish on their virtual council websites to show their modern management competences off to the fullest… All whilst operating that disgrace of a house allocation banding system, as an apparently acceptable modern alternative to actually putting people on the street up for the night…

And then there’s the council pavement hoser downers, the cardboard sheet take-awayers, the spare land fenceroffers, and the tax-evading landlords who won’t accept benefits claimants, and the street-sleeper miscounters. All beauties!

And then there’s all those fresh apple-green sustainable low-carbon footprint, ‘affordable’ new-build social houses… that NOT ONE ‘social housing’-classed individual can possibly afford to buy with his own money!

…What should we really be doing here!?

THE HOUSERICHNESS SCALE

This is a concern of a political distribution kind. I think it may be useful to measure the distribution of living space more effectively, to support a spirit of justice. It is a measure that gets to the essence of what is wanted in housing – its function to the household – to break-through the absurdities in our conventional, failing structural and emotional concepts of what a house should be (and who should be allowed to have one!).

Key points:

* The houserichness scale is a spirit and a concept intended to make the realisation of more justice in any community, easier.

* A house is a living space for a household (one person or more of any age choosing to house themselves as a unit)

* A house is usually a built structure of some kind but not necessarily, it may be a conventional built house property, or a temporary shelter, or even just the tacit recognition of an allocation of a small plot on the ground (as in a marked bay in a campsite grass field for a tent dweller, eg) to a person that shall be respected by all in the community: it is an enforceable, legally-recognised living space

* Houserichness is a measure of how much of the function of supporting a good quality of life is possible for that particular household – not the value or the size or the structure of a property (like number of floors and windows.. or bedrooms it has (or the number of actual *postal address* occupied by all the MPs currently making policies in this area, for instance!!)

* The function afforded by a particular house structure is special and particular to the householder at the time – a good housing solution for one may be a disaster for another. By moderating the distribution of housing function as opposed to regulating housing value or size, allows innovation in housing solutions at the personal and local community level, ridding us of costly and obtuse design standards and red tape (which are more about consumerism than housing justice)

* Housing function is forward-looking (a forecast) not backwards-looking (like a historic property valuation for council tax is)

* At a minimum on the scale, human life can be just preserved. At a maximum, justice across the group can be readily improved thru more sharing (less hoarding)

* Everyone, whether honest or criminal, a babe in mother’s arms or a fit and strong, mature adult male or a sickly and vulnerable war veteran; whether you just sold your million-pound country pile or whether you were just, unluckily, kicked out of your grotty bedsit because you lost your job and your landlord does not tolerate non-‘professional’ benefit cases perhaps?; EVERYONE shall be allocated a house in a community (at least to Level 0)

Eight functional performance levels of a particular housing solution:

LEVEL 7: The household can liquidate and redeploy its space while improving group justice.

LEVEL 6: The household can personalise its space and increase its longevity.

LEVEL 5: The household can preserve its wealth.

LEVEL 4: The household can store and eat hot food at least cost.

LEVEL 3: The household can respect group decency rules.

LEVEL 2: The household can self-maintain healthy sanitation for the duration required.

LEVEL 1: The household can sleep undisturbed as needed.

LEVEL 0: The household can defend its occupation when wanted.

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR PERSONAL HOUSERICHNESS

If you are street-sleeping and want to maintain Level 0, keep moving daily. Do not stay in the same spot, or get a vicious looking dog to keep you company. Or, if you are illegally settling in foreign lands, get a supportive military power to bomb the hell out of the neighbours occasionally to keep them sweet.

(I was attacked 3 times as a newbee Knight of the Road. The first two attacks were humiliating and outcasting (life-threatening enough for the emotional-batteree) but thankfully physically mild; the third saw my entire house solution destroyed and my day’s food thrown in the sea, and the police would/could?? not do anything to help me (even tho I had witnessed it and had photos of the suspects)…. so I just down-sized and slept under a plastic sheet (a remnant from my destroyed tent) from then on, and was all the more ‘streetwise’ thereafter).

Level 1. Sleep is vital. Serious sleep disruption becomes life-threatening for all sorts of reasons. Keeping warm and free from sudden noises or interference is key to being able to sleep.

Sleeping with a loud snorer is a no-no.

Being a loud snorer subjected to frequent prods and hateful awakenings in a YHA is also a no-no.

Sleeping on dry straw bales in a pig barn is great (pigs snore and fart louder than any snoring human being – heaven for the persecuted snorer.)

Living in a swamp with raw sewage in the waters on a small island makes Level 2 a challenge! Try making sanitation infrastructure a public service and give out prizes for ‘cleanest swamp hut of the month’ and the like. Or provide living and working territory elsewhere and incentivise progressive de-settlement.

If you can change out of your wet swimsuit at Cromer beach without baring all, and if you can scratch your balls at night without raising any eyebrows, you’re already at Level 3. Otherwise you might need to invest in a changing robe, a beach hut, or into some curtains for your submarine bunk bed, perhaps.

Level 4 is where the housing benefits and jobseekers benefit schemes have gone all wrong.

Absurdly, the way it works now, the poorer and more badly-housed you are, the *more* expensive is your access to a good diet and hot food.

The fridge is to blame for this. It has led to out-of-neighbourhood centralised supermarkets replacing local street food sellers. And to weekly or monthly shopping excursions in your gas-guzzling, planet-destroying people wagon to buy bulk foods to stuff full your room-sized fridge freezers and house-sized larders. And by the way, in so doing, it has rendered the daily shopping walks to the high street a frivolous non-necessity and so has decimated the footfall in town centres as a cruel economic by-product, irreparably destroying the viability of all the ancillary shops and businesses there.

On the street, ineligible for your £10-15 per night ‘housing’ "allowance" (haahahahaha!!!), and – ridiculously! – expected to be ‘jobseeking’ whilst skilfully still evading all manner of hostilities and shunnings that you typically encounter on the street; all at a time of mass unemployment (where even the most ‘professional’ extremely-well housed classes can’t find a job to save their life!!); just to be granted your £10 per day food-and-everything-else money, you cannot buy these cheap bulk goods; you cannot cook a wholesome meal for a pound without a kitchen. You cannot eat at McDonald’s at less than £15 per day for 2000 cals (when you street-walk-sleep, you’ll need 4000 to not starve slowly to death) – you cannot afford a cup of street cafe hot tea for that matter. You cannot even afford Tesco’s "Value" bottled water (500 times the price that tap water is to the house-rich) (and rich people hate you knocking on their back doors asking to fill your milk carton with some tap water, if you’d please, Mrs Jones?…).

You see: it’s not about a ‘house with a cooker’ (the council’s house quality standard)… What’s the point of that standard when there aren’t any houses!!

So as it stands, to get from Level 4 to level 5, you just gotta get some kind person to rent you his spare room and be nice to you and let you use the kitchen and the fridge… To make yourself *at home*, as we like to say.

Wealth preservation is another biggie.

Level 6 means you don’t lose your wealth unjustly eg as you age to retirement, or as you pass on household property to sustain the family across generations, or particularly as you move to find work.

Even ignoring the injury to a whole community’s homefulness, moving house is the biggest destroyer of wealth – the stuff you have to take to the tip or sell for peanuts just to facilitate the move, for instance!!

And you always will have to sell when you least want to, and to buy when you least want to, losing a lifetime’s of savings in the turn…. Unless there’s a house speculation bubble that is.. Hmmmm!??

…And when you are poor, moving means carrying almost nothing. You lose all you had carefully accumulated. Again.

When tramping, you avoid this wealth loss by not having any to lose in the first place. (in my recent self-eviction from a lodging to the transient state I now find myself in again, I was meticulous in trying to mitigate my expected wealth loss this time round, and I succeeded somewhat. But the weight of my still modest goods – particularly the frozen bulk meals I had cooked for myself that I chose not to throw away this time, and the flapjacks I had freshly baked to use up my last porridge oats – was as much as the donkey could carry)

Moving on, his wealth now secure and growing for posterity, the Englishman may now turn to personalising his castle and repairing the masonry and such. Let’s make a nice garden. Oooh!! Let’s buy a shinny dining table to impress Mark and Lucy when the come round for dinner next week (to snoop again). Oh, and let’s strengthen the sea defences before the weather turns again.

Lucky you. You are now at Level 6.

(I joked with my Mum today over tea, that because she had contemplated buying a new cheese knife to replace a lost one last week (it’s a specially shaped, low drag cheese cutting marvel, apparently – no cheese eater should be without!) that meant she was at Level 6 on the Houserichness Scale…. Not bovvered, I think was the reaction.)

We now see above us the promised land of milk and honey. We are prospering. We are getting ahead. The good efforts we’ve made for ourselves and for others have been profitable. We have more than Mr Average.

I see no problem with this: aspiring to and living at Level 7.

I regard the freedom of choice how to spend your money as the just reward for your life of extra industry and innovation. You can choose to spend on yourself and on others now. You can choose to share it out to suit your own pallet. You can invent your own idea of personal taxes. You can give back.

Bill Gates is at Level 7. And look how he’s now giving back!

THE PROBLEM with all this, I fear, is in the spirit of the mass of the ‘upper’ and ‘middle’ classes – voting blindly to conserve how it was yesterday; for selfishness and the perpetual freedom to hoard house space like there’ll be no tomorrow.

See also:

The homefulness scale www.flickr.com/photos/julianpartridge/9424330948/

J0 www.flickr.com/photos/julianpartridge/8436011566/

The absurd estate agent www.flickr.com/photos/julianpartridge/9536869131/

——-

@julianpRED
julianpRED@gmail.com

Clock
weight loss strategies
Image by ☺ Lee J Haywood
My mother’s wall clock in her conservatory.

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