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New Year; New Home.

2014 December 30
by Gordon Reid

It has been a couple of months since I wrote in this blog, the reason being that either I had nothing much to write, or too much  to write.

But now that I have a new home, all looks different. I have an apartment, and just being able to say that  makes quite a difference, as those of you who have moved home will testify. If you have a period between jobs, with no settled base, it can produce a feeling of insecurity and almost amazement at how vital it is to have a place you can call home. My experience has been off-set, of course, by the fact that, during this period of waiting,  I have been able to travel to Scotland and England and to several places in the USA to stay with old friends. However, lovely though that has been for the last four months, it is wonderful to have a place I can call my own again.

The new apartment is a spacious, airy loft conversion in a fine 1907 building in Center City, Philadelphia. It is on Arch St at 11th St, just opposite where the Convention Center ends, almost opposite the Reading Terminal Market. (For those of you not familiar with Philadelphia, I must explain that the Reading Terminal Market is not a place where old books go to die, but one of the best indoor markets in America, occupying the grand space that was once the terminal building for the railway to Reading, Pennsylvania). I am on the fourth floor, so have a fine view of William Penn sitting on the top of City Hall, and also of some of the highest skyscrapers of Center City. These are all illuminated at night, sometimes in startling colors.

Apartment living is something I have never done before, and I am enjoying it very much. Thinking back, I realize that, apart from a few years in London, when the Diocese in Europe allowed me, as Vicar-General, to buy a house in Islington, I have lived all my life in buildings owned by the Church (and even the Islington one was partially owned by the Diocese). I was  thirty before I lived in my own Rectory and had to feed myself. Till then, it was one College after another: Edinburgh University, Edinburgh Theological College, Keble College, Oxford, Cuddesdon Theological College, Salisbury Theological College. And in the one job where I might have had to look after myself –  my Curacy at St Salvador’s, Edinburgh – I had rooms in the house of a great lady of the parish, who fed me as though I was in imminent danger of starvation.

Thereafter, I lived in a succession of houses  and apartments, all owned by the Church. And some of the apartments were bigger and grander than the houses. The Rectory in Stockholm for example was, it is true, on one floor only, but it had thirteen main rooms, plus staff quarters off the kitchen; the Deanery in Gibraltar had  been the Officers’ Mess for the Royal Engineers in the 19th century when they were constructing the miles of tunnels that exist inside the seemingly solid Rock.  I don’t know how many officers it accommodated, but it consisted of two large houses joined by bridges and with multiple additions  outside and in the lovely garden, which was full of tall palm trees. I did  have to look after myself in these Rectories and Deaneries in Edinburgh, Inverness, Ankara, Stockholm, London, Gibraltar and Milan, but in all of them I had domestic help. Indeed, in Gibraltar, whenever I had a cocktail party or big dinner party, the Royal Navy base would always be able to supply sailors who cooked, were waiters, and cleaned up – Dean of Gibraltar seemed to be a naval rank!

So for the first time I am on my own and responsible for feeding myself. But if you could see the piles of fruit and vegetables, the stalls full of fish and meats of all sorts, the Amish stalls with home-made pickles and jams, and all the other things in the Reading Terminal Market, you would see that I am unlikely to starve! I can cook a few things, and now I think I will learn to cook many more, with the help of some great cook books, such as  those of the delightful Elizabeth David (the aunt of a great friend of mine, incidentally), I  should begin to enjoy what up till now has been just a chore. Those of you within reach will be invited to be the subjects of my experiments – you have been warned! As for cleaning, I know a splendid team of young ladies who descend on a place like locusts and  in a very short time have it polished and cleaned within an inch of its life. Once a month should be enough for an apartment this small.

“Small” is a relative word, and my loft space is about 1200 square feet and the ceiling about 16 feet. All the duct-work is exposed, so there is one huge silver pipe and some black ones. My bed is in a balcony up some open stairs – one of the oddest places I have slept, but fun. It is over the kitchen, which is part of the main space, and the bathroom, which is not, I’m glad to say!  All in all, with a laundry space and two large closets, I have more than enough room.  The space under the stairs now holds the bar, so come and have a drink if you are near. My address is 1027 Arch St, #406, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Happy New Year to you all.

 

 

 

 

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Annie Mccafferty permalink
    December 30, 2014

    Wish you all the best in your new apartment Gordon
    Sounds like fun
    Love
    Anne

  2. Father Andrew Crosbie permalink
    December 31, 2014

    I wish you well on this New Years Eve in your new apartment. Lang may yur lum reek. Best, Andrew

    • Gordon Reid permalink*
      January 10, 2015

      Thanks, Andrew, but I havnae got a lum! However, nice warm air flows in through a huge silver pipe up in the ceiling. And nice cool air will do the same in the summer, I hope. I hope all is well with you.

  3. Joe Bedell permalink
    January 24, 2015

    Fr. Reid,

    Wonderful to ‘hear’ from you again! Welcome back to the States, ;)

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