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I have no home

Ms P's contribution to our Stay Home collecting project

My home used to feel like my home. We paid the rent every month for over 22 years. We brought up three boys in a small two bedroom terrace with a small garden, on a south east London terrace.

Then the pandemic swept across the world, my home is now not 'my' home it's someone else's. Each brick that I've probably paid for many times over belongs to someone else. Each scuff that I own the provenance to has become a worry. Each height marked on a wall once filled me with joy now makes me panic.

My home, or should I say this shape I pay to inhabit, is built for others. I've just borrowed it. Has my home now become a library book? Will someone want it back, because I am late with its return?

Take part in our Stay Home collecting project

Red brick wall
A wall that before was just a wall but now the peeling paint has become a worry

In what ways has the coronavirus pandemic changed the way you use your home?

Our home has become the epicentre of vocal work. Arguments over who can walk across a room when a zoom class is being taught. How long do we remain silent for the artist who worked in studios or theatres who has now turned each room into a space to work from?

Cooking and singing along to the radio has now become a forgotten art. I can't stir a pot and sing along. I can't time a cake by how many songs I can sing. I have to watch the clock as the timer would be too loud.

School work is a battleground between crashing sites and constant trips to a heavily raided fridge. The sofa has become a resting home for unwanted pens and pencils. It's now a giant pencil case.

Never before have I been so worried about what is behind me, my life seems to have switched into a pantomime. What's behind me?

Football goal net
The football pitch where premiere football matches are played and lost. The hoops are for taking penalties!

How do you feel about your home? How have these feelings changed?

I have removed all thoughts of my home being my home now. Each live update from Downing Street has chipped away my feeling of belonging. I am now a character who is playing a part in these walls because the run might be bought to a close without my input. I have removed my sentiment and feelings once attached to this terrace; I have developed a semi-detached view of my home.

I have been made very aware that it is not my home and I have no home, it is now just a house.

How does staying at home affect your relationships?

These have become stronger, the silence between Zoom classes has developed a more coming together of ideas when we are able to communicate. The love has built and is greater than before, each small action is greeted with excitement.

Anyone's contact with anyone not sharing our space is shared, things that would once only make one person laugh is now shared with all.

Never before has washing drying on a line become an Olympic sport. How quickly can anyone unpeg and bring it in? Before it would have just been left. Now it's a collective activity, a sport, that we can all become participants in. An unwritten rule: don't let it get wet. The washing has become a relationship tool.

Piles of fabrics next to a washing machine
Washing Olympics, the house sport. This washing has just been gathered at speed by my eldest (a 22 year old writer) who noticed the rain and reacted accordingly. The washing was saved!

What do you appreciate most about your home? What do you find frustrating?

I appreciate how fragile having a space and not having a space has become to us. The frustration is knowing how we can keep it as our home.

How has lockdown changed your habits or routines at home?

The habits are almost unchanged. The same fridge raiders raid the fridge. The cup of tea is still made at the same times every day. The relaxed style of getting into work has become a bonus and conversations on the phone may have become longer but with less content.

How is your sense of home affected by your neighbours or those living nearby?

The piano practice by small neighbours is more noticeable although not unwelcome marking her progress is impressive. Smoking weed by the other has become a new house sent under the stairs...But they own their homes and we do not.

I have a new feeling of 'I shouldn't be here'...If I /we make too much sound will they become the new police force angered by my not being part of the collective that have a sense of our home?

I have developed a fear of not being good enough to be in my area. I am a private renter, a self-employed freelancer, the group that seem to have no place within a place. I have lost my sense of home. The people around me are home but I actually do not have a home.

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