Open House – A life in 32 moves

Nov 20th 2020

Author Jane Christmas has written a book about the 32 house moves she’s made in her 66-year life. Growing up, Jane was either ‘blessed or cursed’ with a mother who was a serial renovator and mover, uprooting the family over and over again. 

Although her father was somehow nonplussed by any of this, she promised herself that she would never put any child of hers though the same thing. 

However, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Jane ended up uprooting many times. From heading off to university to relocating for different jobs, and taking in two marriages and divorces, she got the moving bug.

Her book begins in idyllic Brixham but ‘seagulls the size of turkeys’ drove her away despite the lovely neighbours and the town itself.

Jane is now renovating a house in Bristol, and while engaged in the repetitive task of stripping woodchip wallpaper from every wall, she started to analyse the motivation behind her behaviour. 

Buyer burn-out

“We viewed 60 homes in a stonking-hot market in 2017, and when house-hunting fatigue hit us, we surrendered to a Victorian terrace house that was overpriced, in need of a total renovation, and that we didn’t even like,” says Jane.

“As we glumly hunkered down to the task of fixing it up, my mind began churning over all my past homes; the ones I grew up in and the ones I owned, and it got me thinking about where this addiction to homes and to moving began.”

Deep currents of memory ensue, causing Jane to question whether in renovating a house, she is in fact attempting to renovate her past.

Listen to BBC R4 Women’s Hour interview with Jane Christmas ‘Moving House‘ – 23 minutes in on BBC Sounds.