The Haunted House:Unwritten Histories and Psychogeography.Reportage/essay/imaginative fiction. By Steven Benson

There was no photograph on Google of the house (at least till I put mine on my blog); no record, no written history. So here, as some form of recuperation- a la recherche- is some PURELY SPECULATIVE history/histories.

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The house was, initially, divided into just ten flats. They were spacious and broadly followed the lay-out of the house when it was one dwelling, occupied by a rich merchant.The flat had high(no false) ceilings, and original features(including the grand stairwell).

THEN, property developers struck; and swooped in like vultures. They were of the make-do, previous (lax) building regulation variety; and motivated solely by money.They saw the potential for huge pickings from the vulnerable, gargantuan house; they ripped it out(again) and created a crazy mishmash of:

false ceilings

split level apartments(with their own internal stairs)

bedsits shoved, peremptorily, into corners

built-on excrescences, accessible only through side/back doors.

They built eighteen assured shorthold fixed term tenancies, and advertised the flats via a dubious agent.

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People were living in desperate times: dwellings to buy were expensive and many had poor credit so could not get mortgages. The social housing sector was just starting to crumble, central government subsidies being withdrawn. People resorted to unscrupulous, barely legal private landlords. And so, these new flats-in a genuinely “desirable” area(a sort of micro-environment of wildlife{parrots, ducks and squirrels}),near a huge, beautiful park-quickly fllled up. No tenant was aware of the shortcuts the landlords and builders had used: the unaddressed structural fissures in the walls, the fake ceilings covering a multitude of electrical and plumbing sins; the fragile, crumbling, ancient masonry.

The house took on an almost human{anthropomorphic} aspect: like an old Dickensian caricature of an old man: with boils and bumps on his bulbous face; stiff and mis-shapen. It seemed, not unanalogous to a Hundertwasser paintings, to LIVE and BREATHE (just) {intertextual references to pathetic fallacy houses in Poe and others nowithstanding}.

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I choose 3 tenants(one is myself, the other 2 fictional):

1.JOE. Joe was an alcoholic; he lived in a pared down, dirty, fetid flat. Getting iller and iller from alcohol poisoning,he eventually fell on an iron spike, damaged his brain and left the house to live in a care home, aged 52.(The landlord continued to receive Housing Benefit in his absence).

2. STEVE. Steve played the piano. His flat was on two levels; with a nine-step staircase leading to a profoundly leaking and damp bedroom, the roof of the latter having entered a parlous state, because of years of patchwork “repairs”. He was gay and kept himself to himself, especially away from the (formerly) violent alcoholic( who used to beat up his girlfriend).

3. PETER. He lived in a hovel, which was squeezed into a corner BELOW the main staircase, walls dripping damp, with the entrance at the back of the house. He ended up squatting in Joe’s empty flat.

The remaining denizens included two “ladies of a certain age”(who get a story to themselves,shortly), who lived a sort of downmarket Anita Brookner-esque life of missed opportunities, feeding ducks and genteel poverty(it wasn’t Kensington Chelsea but it was Liverpool’s nearest to that).

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Of course, this physical and psycho-geographical state of affairs could not continue.Repairs accrued, ceilings gradually sagged and eventually collapsed, walls crumbled further; and, from the cellar, arose damp like a clammy spectre, his fingers soon extending everywhere. One day, the window at the back of the house-a huge ancient wooden sash affair-fell out of the house backwards; and the whole house SHIFTED: big cracks appeared; it even slightly subsided. Steve called in the Environmental Health, who were ineffectual and overwhelmed, who put cursory orders for repairs on the ailing house; all too late.

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Another private developer swooped in: it was to be entirely re-built(yet again) from the inside. The cycle began once more:on the lamppost in the street outside-as the new developers threw out old calor gas heaters(from tenants of yore) and wrecked settees-a notice advertised “conversion” by another private property “developer”………………..{offshoots to be developed, also; in story/mixed genre form}

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Published by: decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)

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