The Write Way
6 August 2010
The Big Yellow House
This is a story about a house ... a big yellow house. But it wasn't always a big yellow house, as you'll discover anon ...
Our story starts more than 10 years ago, when the Love of My Life and I were looking to buy a bigger house, one that had enough space to build on, or convert part into, a granny flat for my mum.
The agent took us to a biggish house one street back from the water. The rear of the place had fabulous views, over the roof of the teensy, tiny house in front (which was built facing the road that ran along the waterfront), across the Bay to North Straddie and Moreton Islands and thence out to the ocean beyond.
As the agent was extolling the virtues of this house, I mentioned my concerns that if anyone built directly behind (where the aforementioned teensy, tiny house sat) the view would vanish faster than a real estate agent's interest in you once he'd closed the sale.
He scoffed, as agents do, and said that the house was presently occupied by a Little Old Lady, who'd been there for the past 35 years. All the more reason for concern, I thought. But he reassured us that the lady's son had vowed and declared that when she left him the house (she was leaving it to him, wasn't she?) he'd never harm a tile on its roof ... not the home of his dearest mater.
But we resisted the agent's most earnest efforts to have us put down a deposit, telling him we didn't want to risk losing the view (which was really the only thing the house had going for it). His exact words, as he strode to his car with us scurrying along behind were (and I quote), "Well, that's dead in the water, isn't it?"
Not long after we'd moved into our current home, we heard that the LOL had shuffled off her mortal coil, and her Beloved Son (henceforth known as BS) had barely put the top back on the Sherry bottle before he had the bulldozers in, razing the house. Then came the Big Diggers, and we locals watched the progress of what we thought must have been a high-rise block of units, given the depth of the foundations and the tonnes of steel girders being delivered to the site.
But no ... this was a private dwelling ... a private dwelling that exploited a local council loop-hole for PDs that stated they could consist of no more than three storeys along the waterfront. This place continued to grow and grow like Topsy.
It turned out that the loop-hole was a clause stating that you could, in fact, build higher than all your neighbours and block out their view and light as long as your extra height consisted of mezzanine levels and not extra floors. So this "dwelling" rose into the sky with its two mezzanine levels ... but a mezzanine by definition can't be a full floor -- it has to be a partial storey between two storeys in a building. And this means a lot of wasted space, because half -- or more -- of the mezzanine floor is a void.
The house, for such it was, was finally completed, at great expense. (We heard on the local grapevine that the huge front stained-glass window had not left much change out of $100,000. You can see a photo of it here and decide if you think it was worth that much.) And then we all waited for the moving vans to arrive and the BS to move in.
And we waited and waited, but no-one moved in and the house sat empty for a year or more.
Then the For Sale signs went up and the house was listed on the Internet. (Don't you just love Real Estate websites?) This meant we could all have a sticky-beak at the inside of the BYH, and what a disappointment!
It was all voids, with a few tiny rooms clinging perilously to the precipice-like main walls. The agent listed it as "suitable for dual living," but we scratched our heads in bemusement, wondering just how two families could get any privacy when the kitchens and living rooms opened onto the common void and bedrooms and bathrooms were strung around the edges of same, with every conversation, whispered endearment and bathroom noise echoing up and down the vast empty spaces. (If you look closely at the second photo, you can see that the void occupies -- if that's possible -- the entire front of the building.)
But finally the place was sold -- to a local group of solicitors who planned to use it for offices.
When we heard the council had actually rejected the application to run a business from this residential area, we (local residents) tried to look sad as we muttered, "Shame about that ... sorry to hear it," and similar platitudes, as we all secretly cheered.
So the Big Yellow House sat empty for another couple of years.
The next we heard was that it was going to be used for entertaining clients. These same solicitors were also involved with a group of financial advisors (cue the Jaws music) which, as part of its inducements to investors to part with more money, used to take the Big Hitters on overseas holidays ... sorry ... investment seminars each year.
The house, then, was to be the scene for any knees-up the company thought might help it sell its "investments" in between the overseas jaunts.
Once again the neighbourhood waited, but still no moving trucks came.
And this wasn't surprising, given the fact that this same investment group was one of those that had been encouraging its clients to mortgage their homes, raid their super funds and borrow heavily to buy "investment properties," just when the Global Financial Crisis hit.
The investment group went into receivership, thousands of people lost millions of dollars ... and the Big Yellow House sits empty still ... a white elephant if ever there was!
The phrase "white elephant" became popular in C18th England, having been brought back by the British who'd been out forging the Empire for Her Maj. It was used in reference to any building or monument (usually public) that had been outrageously expensive to build and which was proving to be quite useless.
According to phrases.org.uk the term came about like this: "White (albino) elephants were regarded as holy in ancient times in Thailand and other Asian countries. Keeping a white elephant was a very expensive undertaking, since the owner had to provide the elephant with special food and provide access for people who wanted to worship it. If a Thai King became dissatisfied with a subordinate, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the recipient."
And one interesting piece of trivia to conclude ... white (albino) elephants aren't really white at all. They just have pink eyes and a usually slightly paler patch on some part of their bodies. (You can see a baby white elephant here )
And here's a cautionary tale for anyone tempted to make fast money ...
A stockbroker was cold
calling about a new stock and found a taker, "I think this one will really
move," said the broker, "it's only $1 a share."
This week's quiz:
Here are some terms I hope you never need ...
creditor, equity, debtor, assets, liquidation, collateral, indemnify, discharge, plaintiff, trustee
1. person or business that files a formal complaint with the court
2. release of a debtor from personal liability for certain debts set forth in the Bankruptcy Code; releases a debtor from personal liability for certain debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the debtor to collect the debts; prohibits creditors from communicating with the debtor regarding the debt, including telephone calls, letters and personal contact
3. person who has filed a petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code
4. every form of property that the debtor owns; include such intangible things as business goodwill; the right to sue someone; or stock options
5. sale of a debtor's property with the proceeds to be used for the benefit of creditors
6. one to whom the debtor owes money or who claims to be owed money by the debtor
7. representative of the bankruptcy estate who exercises statutory powers, principally for the benefit of the unsecured creditors, under the general supervision of the court and the direct supervision of the bankruptcy administrator
8. value of a debtor's interest in property that remains after liens and other creditors' interests are considered
9. to guarantee against any loss which another might suffer; used to describe the undertaking of one spouse in a divorce to assume certain debts of the marriage and to see that the other spouse is not forced to pay
10. property which is subject to a lien; security pledged for the repayment of a loan
Now, a story about the getting of wisdom ...
At a faculty meeting in a great university, the dean is idly polishing an old lamp the cleaners recently found at the back of a storage room. Suddenly, a genie appears and tells the dean that in return for his unselfish and exemplary behaviour, he can choose his reward: he can have either infinite wealth, infinite wisdom or infinite beauty.
Without hesitating, the
dean selects infinite wisdom.
All heads turn towards the
dean, who sits surrounded by a faint halo of light. At length, one of his
colleagues whispers, "Say something wise."
Have Your Say
The Write101 community is slowly growing ... Don't be shy -- join others who share your love of the written word! And feel free to leave your comments. These new comments boxes scattered throughout the site will also be a source for me when I'm looking for comments to post on my site, so if you say something about the newsletter or site, remember, you may end up being read by one of the 2,000+ unique visitors who visit Write101 every day! You'll find the new toys on the Home page.
Did you know that every newsletter is archived? So if you've missed anything since 1998 or want to revisit some favourites, you can do so any time!
Don't forget to bookmark the page when you get there ... or even make it your Home Page. (For Internet Explorer, just click on Tools ... Internet Options ... General ... fill in www.write101.com/archives/index.htm and click OK. For Netscape, select Edit ... Preferences. Then select Navigator from the left menu, click Home Page and enter the URL above next to Location and click OK. For all the flash new browsers, you'll have to do a search on my mate google to find what to do. There's a search box on the archives page!)
If you've received this little missive from a friend, you can get your very own issue, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every Friday morning by clicking here: mailto:WritingTipsemail@example.com And I'm even prepared to offer a shameless bribe.
An Ape that wants to play Hamlet after being type-cast as King Kong, a talking anvil and that rottweiller ... Dr Morgenes is still caught in the nightmare that is the casting couch. Help him find a plot! Just click on the Comments button at the end of the entry to add your contribution. If you have friends who fancy themselves as writers, invite them to contribute (just forward this newsletter in its entirety to them).
I often trawl this for comments to post on my site ... so if you say something about the newsletter or site, be warned, you may end up being read by one of the 2,000+ unique visitors who visit Write101 every day! Make your Mark on the World. Then stop by our Map of the World and read the messages. (Just click List) and add your mark and comment.
Last week's quiz:
How much do you really know about sleeping?
circadian, bruxism, narcolepsy, cataplexy, polysomnography, chronotherapy, diurnal, pons, apnoea, parasomnias
1. brainstem region critical for initiating REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when dreaming takes place- PONS
2. active or occurring during the daytime; repeating once each 24 hours - DIURNAL
3. neurological condition in which people experience excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and intermittent, uncontrollable sleep attacks during the daytime - NARCOLEPSY
4. sleep disorders that include sleepwalking, sleep talking and sleep terrors - PARASOMNIAS
5. biological rhythms include the internal "clock," which influences when, how much, and how well people sleep - CIRCADIAN
6. teeth grinding or jaw clenching during sleep; top and bottom teeth are clamped tightly together, especially the back teeth - BRUXISM
7. test that records sleep architecture (such as the amount of NREM and REM sleep, number of arousals) and a variety of body functions during sleep, including breathing patterns, heart rhythms and limb movements - POLYSOMNOGRAPHY
8. condition that includes a loss of muscle tone that leads to feelings of weakness and a loss of voluntary muscle control; often triggered by emotions such as anger, surprise, laughter and exhilaration. - CATAPLEXY
9. serious sleep disorder that occurs when a personís breathing is interrupted during sleep - APNOEA
10. use of bright light to affect a change in sleep patterns - CHRONOTHERAPY
An old lady walks into an
attorney's office and says to him, "Before I continue young man, how much
will you charge me for answering three questions?"
A Little Something Extra
Here's an article that explains how to write for the lucrative field of financial services. And the tips can be applied to virtually any other field of writing ...
Article Marketing - How to
Promote Financial Services With Article Writing
Click to discover the three simple steps to help you tap
into the financial market -- and many other lucrative writing jobs
Word of the week: Lien (n) right to take and hold or sell the property of a debtor as security or payment for a debt or duty; the legal claim of one person upon the property of another person to secure the payment of a debt or the satisfaction of an obligation.
Not surprisingly, this legal terms comes from the ever-practical Romans, from the Latin ligamen meaning 'a tie, bandage.'
And an apt Latin phrase this week ...
Monstra mihi pecuniam
[MOHN-strah MEE-hee pay-KOO-nee-ahm]
(Show me the money)
Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here for these and more: http://www.cafepress.com/write101
Recommend this page to other writers by clicking the Recommend it! button below, then see what pages others are recommending here.
P.S. Want to donate to the upkeep of this newsletter? Just $17 a year seems a small price to pay for all this wit and wisdom, don't you think? C'mon, that's just a tad more than 30 cents a week!
1. Toss a few pennies in my Running Away Fund here: https://www. paypal.com (Send to jennifer @ write101.com ... without the spaces, of course) OR
2. Click here to subscribe for a full year OR
3. Send a cheque (made payable to Jennifer Stewart).
To unsubscribe from this list, send a blank email to: mailto:WritingTipsfirstname.lastname@example.org or go to the web site, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WritingTips This menu will also let you change your subscription between digest and normal mode.
Copyright Jennifer Stewart 2010
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
Copyright 2009 Jennifer Stewart Write101.com