Posted by: billpurdue | September 28, 2009

68 How to move (a) house

Layout 1 (Page 1)It’s said that probably the most stressful thing that many people do is to move house. Imagine how much more stressful it might be though, if you had to move not just the contents of the house, but the house itself – bit by bit. This is exactly what May Savidge did with her  half timbered medieval hall-house when the planners wanted to knock it down to make way for a road. This was back in the 1950s when progress was everything and preserving the past took a back seat in the face of development. After trying to fight the planning decision she eventually came to the conclusion that the only course of action would be to dismantle the house and rebuild it elsewhere (and by this time she was already 60 years old). Her house was in Ware, Hertfordshire and she decided she wanted to move to Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk .  Once the house was there May had to sort out all the components of the house and slowly put it back together again, with very little help from builders and others, whilst living in a cold, draughty caravan. As her nephew’s wife, Christine Adams, explains in the book, with the help of many extracts from May’s correspondence and detailed diaries, Miss Savidge took the next 23 years to put the house back together, but sadly she was unable to finish the task : old age and infirmity eventually took its toll.

Today the house is now finished and comfortable ;it has been featured on the BBC’s “Antiques Roadshow” and Christine Adams has written up the story of May and her ancient house in a remarkable book A Lifetime in the Building [Aurum £16.99 9781845133962]. The introduction by Paul Atterbury of the BBC Antiques Roadshow got me hooked: once started, I just couldn’t put the book down and continued reading whenever I had a spare moment.  It will be one of my recommended reads for 2009.

Are you old enough to remember the 1970s?

Strange days indeedWell, if you are, then a new book published this month by Private Eye columnist and BBC Radio 4 News Quiz  panellist Francis Wheen may strike a chord. Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia [Fourth Estate £18.99 9780007244270] harks back to the decade when Harold Wilson believed that Soviet trawlers were spying on him when he took his holidays on the Scilly isles whilst the British secret service and the Conservative establishment thought he was a Soviet agent. It was also the decade of Richard Nixon’s strange behaviour in the White House and the trial of Rupert Bear.  Francis Wheen homes in on these and other examples of paranoia from the ‘70s in what promises to be a fascinating book.

Are you a fan?

Ant and DecNow, I’m not going to pretend that I’m a fan of that dynamic duo Ant and Dec who feature heavily in ITV’s Saturday night schedules. However, there’s no denying how phenomenally successful the pair have become and  I feel duty bound to let those of you who are fans know that Ant and Dec’s new book Ooh What a Lovely Pair [Michael Joseph £20 978-0718154462] is now available. The book has already reached the top three of the hardback non-fiction bestsellers according to The Bookseller magazine. As you might expect, Ant McPartlin and Declan Donelly, to give them their full names, are attending signing sessions in a few locations around the country  – ASDA at Derby Road , Spondon  (01332 661751) is the nearest they will get to our neck of the woods.  The signing session is due to begin at 12.30 on Thursday October 8th – for conditions, please refer to the Penguin Books website.

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