On Liking The Work

On Liking The Work

I’m speechless, more or less. And I don’t really want to add many of my own words. It’s enough to say that when Cheri and I pulled open the envelope left in our office mailbox and found the above drawing inside, it made everything that went before it last week, both good and bad, just sort of fade away, like a fog burning off a brilliant blue sea…

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A Chance Meeting

A Chance Meeting

As far as I can tell, it all began with a chance meeting in the park. A big brick house on the corner of Alma and Patrick was being prepared for sale. Word had it the seller was moving into a top-floor, top-notch lemony condominium set among the baleful willows of Sydenham ward and, well, if that was the future he’d lined up (with our help) who could blame him?

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One

One

He would come up to bed late, smelling of oranges, the street gone quiet. It wasn’t every night - sometimes the stink was just whisky - but it was often enough. I could feel him downstairs, if that makes any sense, leaned up against the kitchen counter, digging his blunt thumbs into Valencia navels …

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Mary Poppins Jr At Central Public

Mary Poppins Jr At Central Public

My daughter, Willa, was dragging herself around the house a bit this morning. Her stomach hurt, she said, and she was listless. Wrapping the cat up in a blanket and gleefully stifling its every attempt for freedom was about all she could manage. I suspect there are a lot of tired kids at her school – Central Public – right now. Their production of Mary Poppins runs next week, on the 16th and 17th, and rehearsals are the order of the day.

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On Stealing Bikes

On Stealing Bikes

The house is empty and so I should be picking away at the new novel. Grabbing every free minute. I’ve stepped back recently from a few obligations in the hope of carving out a little space. And I’ve made a mildly decent start. For the first time in years it feels as if there’s no stall imminent, no fall from the sky. I hope to have a draft by the end of the year.

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Pete Shelley and Mark Hollis are dead

Pete Shelley and Mark Hollis are dead

Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks fame died last December. He was 63 and had a heart attack. I wandered about in a bit of a daze that morning and then … well you have to get on with things, don’t you? I ordered a t-shirt from their website, a sad, middle-aged nod on my part to his influence, and once it arrived it became more or less instantly a favourite part of my wardrobe (which I realise pegs me as a man of a certain age and disposition, and so be it). 

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Coming Soon

Coming Soon

We’ll be listing plenty of properties in the coming weeks. Which is exciting, and also a relief after these lean weeks to begin the year. Royal LePage doesn’t believe in, or allow, the “Coming Soon” signs so popular these days, and no denying it’s hard to watch your competitors plant their intentions in frozen lawns days and weeks ahead of the start date. Even harder is watching some of these sell before that listing date even arrives.

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Multiple Offers - Here We Go Again (A Word Or Two Of Caution)

Multiple Offers - Here We Go Again (A Word Or Two Of Caution)

Each of the last two years, Cheri and I have been involved in a competitive bidding situation more than fifty times. Our clients were up against other buyers for the same house. The year before that it was just five or six times. That’s how much the real estate scene here in Kingston has changed. Low inventory and high demand has created a seller’s market. Multiple offers are now the order of the day.

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Getting The Help We Need

Getting The Help We Need

We’ve been moving things around. Desks and chairs, filing cabinets and a little grey fridge stocked usually with cans of Perrier and, if I’m feeling flush, a few jars of some probably useless kombucha too. Pictures are being reassigned and books piled against the wall. I even sold my floating top mid-century teak desk (and haven’t quite recovered yet) The office that has until now only had to accommodate the two of us is being rearranged so we can fit in an assistant as well.

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“Coming Soon” Signs - The Case Against Them

“Coming Soon” Signs - The Case Against Them

Multiple offer situations. Loads of them. For more than a year now. The market here in Kingston has changed dramatically - inventory is way down and demand is high. I’ve rattled on about this situation more than once.

It’s changed the way people list houses, the timelines and strategies. When I got into this business a dozen years ago, the broker at the office I worked in said she didn’t like this whole idea of holding back offers, setting a date upon which they would be reviewed.

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On building a new website

On building a new website

We’ve begun again. Taken the website apart like it’s some old toaster, or car engine, some defunct mobile phone, and after spreading its parts out on the floor and kicking them around a bit, turning them over and around for a better look at their slick workings, and giving our head a good shake at our foolishness at some past moments and feeling really rather proud at others, we’ve completely rebuilt it with a mix of new and old parts.

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On Prawns and Greyhounds, Ice Cream and U2

On Prawns and Greyhounds, Ice Cream and U2

I have lots of memories of being a kid growing up in Blackbird Leys in the 1970s, on the outskirts of Oxford, a good number of them marvelous, some of them comic, and several that I’d rather forget because they were just unpleasant, or vaguely criminal, or downright depressing. Blackbird Leys, back then, was a tough place to live, a depressed and often violent council estate. Fighting was pretty much compulsory.

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Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold

When my sister died suddenly a few years back, we all descended on the bank one grey April morning—me, my other mostly estranged sister, my parents, my dead sister’s daughter, and also a lawyer, just to keep us honest. Tracy had a safety deposit box in the floodlit, camera-rich basement and after a lot of key jangling, and huffing and puffing from an embarrassed bank employee, we found ourselves alone with that smudged steel tray, that shallow box of her most important bits.

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Taking Stock

Taking Stock

Early Sunday morning and a light snow is coming down on the deck. October 28th and here we go again, though I’m not sure I’m quite ready for it. Sam’s been pulling winter clothes out of the basement for weeks. Baskets fill up with gloves and scarves. I feel somehow far too casual in my approach to the seasons - There must be a sweater in here somewhere - next to all her good organization. It’s feels as if without her we’d all freeze halfway to school.

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On Listening To The Clash

On Listening To The Clash

An older post that still rings true:

A lot of the music made in the U.K. in the late 1970s and early 1980s is more important to me today, looking back, than the friends I had then – David Treacher and Neil Saint and Martin Robinson and Zoe Thomas. I remember their names, and a good few stories (I sport more than a couple of scars from those days), but the names just don’t have much of an emotional pull now. The friendships petered out not long after I arrived in Canada; the music has stayed with me.

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On Being A Punk Rock Star

On Being A Punk Rock Star

Joe Talbot, lead singer of the very special English punk band, Idles, is a complicated character. I say that based on a dedicated run-in the last few months with their two albums and then a fleeting encounter in Toronto. And by encounter I mean that I saw them play an incendiary set at Lee’s Palace to kick off the impressive new record, Joy As An Act Of Resistance, all the noise that night causing bits of plaster to fall from the ceiling like a celebratory confetti.

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Guilt Trip - On Visiting The U.S.

Guilt Trip - On Visiting The U.S.

Back in August, day five of our holiday on Martha’s Vineyard, and the sense of guilt at having crossed the border still making me grumpy. I was trying to think of it as an island off the coast of America, rather than part of the country proper. A hideout populated only by decent people dismayed and embarrassed by their appalling leader. Like Puerto Rico, sorta, only with a fully functioning power grid and ten dollar tubs of yoghurt.

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