The following appeared in Issue#1 of SMUG (see ‘housekeeping/links’)

I’m southbound. Next week I take up a new job in a new (to me) part of the country – Winchester, Hampshire. Apparently this used to be the capital of England, before the Normans kicked-off…………

After a futile search for an affordable house to buy, an extortionate deposit has been paid on a postage-stamp-sized ‘studio flat’ (or what we used to call a bedsit in my student days).

And in an attempt to give birth to some kind of social life, I’ve already signed-up for several local cultural highlights – the local Chess Club (Mondays), Winchester Musicals and Opera Society (Mondays and Wednesdays) and the Hampshire Writers Club (second Tuesday of every month). That lot should keep me out of the pubs……………..or drive me towards them, perhaps?

From my few days in Winchester so far (mostly spent flat-hunting), a few things spring to mind:

  1. When you look at the coloured map of constituencies on Election Special….a.k.a. ‘The Nation Decides’…..it’s part of what we (northern types) call ‘that big blue bit down there’.
  2. Anyone with an ordinary job (cleaner, waiter, shop assistant) seems to prefer to live elsewhere – somewhere called Eastleigh seems to be popular.
  3. I am entering an environment rich in Audis, BMWs and Mercedes. On my visit last week I was surrounded by them. All of them 2.0 litre (or above), all of them 120 bhp (or above), and all of them crawling at 15 mph (or below) around this fine old town.

Don’t get me wrong…I wish we all had a German car – it would be lovely…or at least, to have one that is within the legal emissions limits. But of course ‘we’ don’t. And here in WCR (my new abbreviation for the town, I hope you will forgive me), the sheer wealth slaps the incoming-northerner in the face.

“If you don’t like it, go back to the frozen North” some might say. Not at all – I like it very much. It’s lovely. It’s my kind of town, even if I can’t really afford it. It has the feel-of-the-genteel. I never feel as though I’m about to get accosted whilst walking the streets, and there are a fair few parts of The Great North you couldn’t say that about. I get the feeling that the worst thing that’s going to happen to me is that I will, one night in November, trip over the Remembrance poppy wreaths that haven’t yet been nicked by the locals for Christmas decorations. And that’s about as violent as things are going to get. Hopefully.