This old house . . .
Last night Will rang with this amazing proposition ~ to start with he was worried how I would take it but nothing would please me more ~ this was the suggestion : when I die, instead of putting the house on the market, he said, perhaps the three of them (Georgie,Will and Kate) could hold onto it as a family holiday home, a joint assett ~ so that it stays in the family for generations ~ FOR EVER !!! I am absolutely delighted that they've discussed this possibility but there is one problem, one BIG problem ~ the EQUITY I released on it years ago when I was at rock bottom and had no money whatsoever. I can't remember whose idea it was ~ Fred's or John's or one of the others suggexted I release some of the equity on the value of the property and that's what I did, receiving £40,000 from Norwich Union, now AVIVA. Actually this was an absolute godsend ~ for one thing the children had taken out a small mortgage on my behalf (of £6,000 I think it was) in order to enable me to get a grant from North Yorkshire / English Heritage to complete work on the house which Tony Oakes of HOMEFREE fame had left undone ~ at the time they were all struggling with mortgages of their own but thank goodness the Equity came through just then to pay off that mortgage which they had so nobly taken out on my behalf,as it was at the very moment when Kate discovered Dan was on the way and Agi was expecting Ben. They had more than enough responsibilities without propping up their old mum.
So that £40,000 saved the houdse for me enabling me to qualify for the grant which depended on me contributing 60% of the total, and without their help I could not have done so. Of course, along with all my worldly goods, I was leaving them the house which thanks to their help was then in a splendid condition with new roof, damp course, painted outside ~ in fact everything Tony Oakes had failed to do had now been done.
You might be thinking, how could anybody get into such financial difficulties, for Christ's sake ! With all this talk of Mensa ! Well throughout our 23 years of marriage I had hardly ever had more than a pound in my pocket ~ "If I give you money, you'll only spend it," was my husband's philosophy. (see my first published article in the Guardian, March 1976 ~ copied into entry 120 of the first blog : www.joypeach.com) As we approached our divorce we should have discussed money ~ budgeting, paying the bills, all that I needed to know to cope on my own. But we never did. So small wonder I got in such a muddle : at 45 I had never had a bank account, never written a cheque ~ the only money I had ever had to manage was the Family Allowance, and not always that !
So now the question is can Will and the girls raise enough to clear my debt to AVIVA which including the accumulated interest amounts to £80,000 ! And can I allow them to do this ? Otherwise the AVIVA debt will keep increasing until I die at quite an alarming rate ~ last year's interest I see was £6,000 !
I rang AVIVA this morning and they will let me have a statement shortly ~ even seven years ago when I had to have it revalued for insurance purposes the house was worth £225,000 and its value has probably increased since then. It would be quite wonderful if somehow or other it could be kept in the family ~ Will said we all love Whitby and it is such a special house it would be wonderful if we could save it for ourselves and future generations. So, it all depends on what AVIVA say ~ there may be a penalty charge for opting out before my death. Fingers crossed. Apart from everything else, it would mean most of my things could be preserved ~ the bureau, the clock, the painted furniture in my bedroom, the Georgian bookcase and the evn older book case in the attic ~ at times when none of them were here, they could let it out perhaps, on longish lease.
Tuesday afternoon : Oh dear ~ hopes dashed ~ amount AVIVA would have to be paid to release me from their clutches is over £110,000 and with best will in the world I couldn't expect my family to cope with so large a sum even if they took out a mortgage to cover it ~ meanwhile interest on the original £40,000 Equity released on the property comes to some £6,000 p.a. and increasing all the time ~ hope the entire value will not be eaten up by the time I die ~ the best thing would be if I popped my clogs right now in which case there would be no penalty payment (for early closure) and the value would still be over £100,000 ~ don't worry, no immediate plans for jumping off the cliff ~ mainly because I'd never get up there in my present doddery state ! Bugger !
I'm jolly lucky to have found the house and managed to restore it in spite of Tony Oakes, the DSS, and other blocks ~ and I mainly have to thank Mother who rescued me when the Bank were insisting I sell it in order to clear my frightful £27,000 overdraft which had built up in the first years in Whitby when I was virtually penniless ~ bless her soul ! One last grim memory and than I'll shut up about my dismal financial record : at a time when the kitchen wall had been demolished exposing a dark cave full of rubble, the ceiling held up with pit props, and all I had in the house was a crust of bread and one egg ~ no income and that enormous overdraft ~ I was in such a state of misery and despair and weak from hunger I DROPPED THE BLOODY EGG !! That time I sat and wept at my own stupidity. Later on when following the London tribunal into my situation when I was allowed help from DSS I remeber going into the bank for the £10 they allowed me to withdraw each week, when to my horror I was ushered into an interview room and told THAT WAS IT ~ they washed their hands of me. John was in the picture than, bless him, and he immediately lent me £200 and persuaded me to enquire about Pension Credit ~ wonderful advice ~ the very next day and adviser came from York, filled in the form for me with frequent explosions of disbelief ~ and the very next day I received £2,800 back dated PC and from then on I was solvent ~ the bank allowed me back and (in case his particularly grasping family are reading this) I was able to pay John back in full within days. This is not a POOR ME story but rather a celebration of survival against all the odds.
But nuff of my miseries ~ I've just finished the second of James Bowen's best selling books about his life as a busker on the streets of London and Bob the street cat who befriended him and eventually changed his life ~ now there's a story of poverty and despair ~ but together James and Bob won through, gloriously ~ a truly heart warming tale.
I will put the dream behind me ~ I mean, it was only suggested on Sunday ~ time to close this page down and start afresh tomorrow.