No denying it, we’ve been fortunate. All the years my daughters were growing up we were able to take family vacations, usually to one of two annually repeating and highly glamorous destinations. Firstly, Paris, because, for one, it’s so easy to reach from London (just jump on the train, Wayne, as Paul Simon famously didn’t write), and, for two, well, it’s Paris. Secondly, New York City. No reason required. If you get the chance to go, you go. Nuff said.
But the travelling, damn it, the getting there, if you repeat a journey enough times, alas, I must admit, can become a chore. Also, any one of a million annoying things might go wrong. Planes can be delayed, trains can be cancelled (even the midnight train home de Paris, oh yes); or the little person behind you is kicking your seat with a potentially world championship winning talent for seat-kicking and will not stop, because, presumably, they have to practice somewhere) (yes, but why always right behind you?) Ah, yes, being there is fabulous. But the getting there can at any unanticipated moment make you feel like you’ve foolishly embarked on a perilous journey into the Underworld to battle Satan for your soul. With the kids in tow. Or your in-laws. Or both. And, oh yes, don’t expect your luggage to be there when you arrive. You can forget about that right now. This is hell, after all.
But, what if, go with me here, what if we (you) didn’t need to get there? What if we (you) could just walk out of the front door of our / your own house and be in New York City? And the side door, well, that, somehow, opens out in the back streets of Paris. Naturellement. And, wait, yes, at the same time the back door lets you exit straight into London and I know exactly where that happens (you know, yes, there!) (handy for the big market on Sundays). Well, of course, that would be some special kind of house. How much? Thanks. We’ll take it.
So began the engaging fantasy of The Little House on Everywhere Street, a fantasy spun into life on the cold concourse floor of the Gare du Nord long after midnight and, following an unfathomable diversion, during a hot two-hour layover on the runway in Sarasota, Fl. (in which it was somehow essential that the aircon be off at all times.) And on many other such occasions, when the getting there had stalled, gone somehow wrong / bad / south or just plain kicked us smack in the teeth. Traveller, you know it. You’ve been there.
Eventually, after several years of this, I began to think, in all seriousness, hmm, how might such a house work? Who would live there? What sort of family would they be? How would living in such a house affect them? What would the house be like on the inside? And, most importantly, what would be the potential consequences of living like that? Ah, the consequences. Yes, these might be tricky. When you begin to think about what could possibly go wrong, it turns out that the answer is quite a lot.
Well, after making numerous long and drawn-out enquiries, I discovered that the family that occupies the house (a little house, at least on the outside) go by the name of Redmayne. And they have to deal with the unfortunate consequences of their rather special, indeed unique, lifestyle. Some of the family members might be pleased to learn that their story came out in a prize-winning novel, but that’s probably only the three children, George, Felice and Emile. Mr and Mrs Redmayne would (and this I can guarantee) be most exceptionally horrified (so no telling them). As, for Rufus, the long-deceased grandfather and architect of the house, I’m half-expecting any day for him to turn up and claim that he wrote it!
That would be exactly like him.
F.M.A. Dixon grew up in the characterful, proud seaport of Liverpool. He has since lived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Minneapolis, London and, latterly, Canterbury. His stories have appeared in The London Magazine, Aesthetica and many, many places elsewhere. He is very lucky to be married with two daughters. He wants me to tell you that he tweets @FMADixon1.