Sunday, February 06, 2005

Value is relative

On June 30th, 1962 my mother remarried. My father had been dead for 21 months and 23 days at the time and, to be honest, not much missed. Some other time I might write about what little I can remember of him.

The very next day we all moved from my grandmothers house to another house one suburb over. In 1962 that suburb was almost the worst suburb in Melbourne; tiny houses crowded upon one another, all fallen into disrepair and most leaning over one way or another. They all had outside toilets. The one we moved into had a horrid green stain on the bathtub that scared me. I didn't want to bathe in a tub like that but I had no choice. A couple of years later the chemistry was obvious - it was a copper compound and completely harmless but at 8 years old I didn't want to know.

I remember walking down the hallway of that house on Sunday July 1st 1962 and seeing, in the kitchen an old refrigerator, newly purchased second hand by my mother and my new step-father (hereinafter known as 'the olds'). It might have been a couple of years older than I was; one of those round shouldered boxes with a locking handle that nowadays is not permitted. It had a large rosette sticker on the front proudly proclaiming the price; 50 quid (pounds). Now you have to remember that an 8 year old has little concept of prices so I accepted that 50 quid as just a number. Likewise when I heard the price 'the olds' had paid for the entire house. 500 quid. We were all 8 years old once right?

Can you imagine being able to buy a house (in any condition) these days for a mere ten times the price of a second-hand refrigerator?

As it happens I moved back into that suburb in 1993 - bought a house there. Well not quite; I couldn't afford a house in Seddon - I had to settle for Kingsville about 6 streets to the west. The last time that house (the one in Seddon) was sold (and it's still basically the same house - the same frame - outside weatherboard etc on the same small chunk of land) was about 1995 - at that time it fetched the princely sum of A$225,000. In quids it's exactly half - 112,500 quid.

The last refrigerator I bought in Australia (August 2001) was brand new. It cost A$800 - 400 quid.

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