Thursday, May 10, 2007

My living conditions are deteriorating steadily. Noise from nearby construction works have been driving me out of the house to work at college, and now scaffoldings have taken most of my limited daylight; the house has turned into a cave. Stepping out to the street is a somewhat blinding experience - I never knew there was so much daylight in England until I missed it. If this was not enough, electricity is down again, and it is unclear for how long.

The Victorians who built my house and lived in it knew how to live without electricity; they had coal stoves for heating and cooking, and probably used oil lamps. Electrical light is, I believe, better: when it is there, it floods the space effortlessly. The shadow theatre of oil lamps and candles brings magic into the space but keeps much of it in the dark. As a 21st century specimen, I am badly adjusted to the lack of electrons: I have no lanterns, just candles.

But for me, the main problem is the inability to keep food for more than a day. Food refrigerating is a modern luxury which I find very difficult to give up. I can cook by candlelight, I can take cold showers, but I need a fridge. Again, Victorians probably had their ways: from ice-fridges to eating conserves. But mainly, I think, they had more time. Especially the women; and their diet was not one that I envy.

My survival in London on a low budget depends very much on food. I go to the market every week to skip two big sacks of vegetables and fruits that keep me for a while; I cook large quantities and eat them for a few days. Very rarely do I buy food or eat out. It's expensive and usually bad. I leave to college daily with my packed lunch. During winter, I stored food outside in a big box. But since March this is no longer possible. The small fridge I have does not take much electricity, but I don't have even that.

These issues are worrying, but I noticed that they are very different from the fear of eviction. Somehow, the anxiety of being taken to court is much more overwhelming. The threat is now hovering over my head, slowly becoming more concrete. And although I know well that the process of eviction will take months, at the very least, it is still a much more debilitating anxiety than the real and pressing practical concerns.

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