As of Friday, we are now homeowners. We still owe the greater part of it to the bank, of course, and taking everything into account I personally actually own about one fifth of a house at the moment, but it’s still a greater level of control over my life and living conditions than I’ve ever had before.
Even though we haven’t moved in yet, I’ve met so many neighbours that I’ve had to write down notes to remind myself of all the names. It feels very different from living in an apartment building. It’s nice, I think. Maybe I’ll come to miss the anonymity.
I’ve ordered good replacement locks so that we actually know that no one else has a key, and I’m getting them keyed alike so that we don’t need separate keys for the front and back doors. There’s no need to walk around like a jailer if you don’t have to.
I took down the SOLD sign the estate agents had erected in front of the house. I kept the corrugated plastic boards, because they’re useful for making protest signs.
The house had been let for a while, and has experienced the level of not-my-problem maintenance usually associated with landlords, which is to say neglect. Nothing seems too bad so far, apart from the kitchen floor, which is made of MDF-backed tiles that have been wrecked by water. Because they’re MDF. In a kitchen. What were you thinking? Were you thinking?
More accurately, was made of, because I spent all of an hour today ripping them out to reveal the dated and discoloured but otherwise flat vinyl floor beneath. In the long term, we’ll redo the kitchen. In the short term, I’ll stick a cosmetic layer on top and adjust the kickboards.
There’s also a lot of painting required, which is going to be exhausting but should also make a big difference.
But that’s not the only maintenance work I’ve been doing this week. I managed to score a bargain on eBay: I bought a non-working Yamaha DX27 synthesiser from the mid 80s for £33. I set a reasonable bid, went to bed, and woke up to find I’d won. I think the fact that it was collection only from far East London helped to limit potential buyers. How many people really want a second-tier FM synth from 1985 that doesn’t even work so much that they are prepared to go to the trouble of travelling to collect it? After building a lot of musical electronics over the past year, I was confident that it would either be an easy fix or a complete impossibility, and so I took a chance.
I turned it on, and saw only black squares on the display, which disappeared when I touched the power lead. That was just a broken pad on the power socket. I resoldered it and turned it on again. Still black squares, but they didn’t disappear any more.
I checked the backup battery. That had been replaced recently and was still good. Not that, then.
The next obvious thing was to check the connections to the display module. These cables are soldered directly onto the main board with no strain relief, and a few connections had come away. I reflowed them all, turned it on again, and saw
<WELCOME TO DX>
Progress! But it didn’t make a noise, didn’t respond to buttons properly, and the patch name was garbled. I reflowed all the connectors on the main board and was able to restart it in test mode. That reset the patch memory, and it worked.
All in all, it took me less time to fix it than it did to get to Woodford and back to pick it up.
I spent another few hours later in the week disassembling it, cleaning nearly four decades of grime off all the parts – I washed each key individually – and reassembling it. It now looks disconcertingly new.
I’ve been using Edisyn as a patch editor via MIDI – much easier than working with a one-line LCD – and exploring FM synthesis. It’s not something I’m used to, but it’s been very satisfying. You can do a lot even with only four operators.
For the second time in a week, we went to see a Yayoi Kusama exhibition. This one was at the Victoria Miro gallery in Islington, and had a lot more art than the Tate installation. The infinity rooms were fun, but there was much more to see here and I enjoyed it more as a result.
Because buying a house, and sorting it out, and moving is a big hassle, and because there will definitely be downsides, I’ve been keeping a list of everything I hate about our current rented flat. In the past week, the two that have annoyed me most are the massive glass windows that make the place a greenhouse when the sun shines, and the sharp door handles that scrape off your skin if you brush past them. I skinned a knuckle on a door handle again on the day we completed, and thought to myself, not too much more of this now.