My London

NB to start with: I don’t live and have never lived in London.

‘My London’ is the idea of London as it exists in my mind – the prevalent idea that allows me to like and not hate it – and the parts of London that I like to visit in London, the parts of London I visit London for, and the parts that make me feel like it could be my home (though it isn’t and there’s of course much more to this city than those parts I like). Needless to say, but said anyway.

London is particularly pleasant at this time of year – late April, early May, when trees are already green and it’s finally viable – after all these months – to sit outside and enjoy your coffee or pint of cider. (Beware, though, ’cause you might get the wrong idea that London is the only place you can do it, if you time your trip wrong. Let me know in the comments if you understand what I mean, ’cause I don’t think it’s entirely clear but also feel like explaining it would take too long. Or I’m just straight up lazy). So that comes into the equation that decides which parts of London are my London.

If you follow my Instagram stories, you’ll know I went to London last Saturday to see Lewis Watson perform live at Lafayette in King’s Cross.

London always causes me to see ‘what ifs’ on every corner. What if I had gone to UCL? What if I had gone to UAL to do an MA in Publishing, like I could’ve ’cause I got in last year? (It was one of the two MA courses I applied for, the other one being the one I’m now doing in Brighton). Would I see my friend who lives there (he’s doing a PhD at UCL) (almost) every day, meaning I’d be way less lonely than I am in Brighton? Would I still be in touch with the many people with whom I did my scholarship in Sixth Form (albeit in different schools) who now live, study, and work in London? Would I be way more successful and confident and open to way more professional and educational opportunities than I have been in the places I’ve lived in instead? – This last question is kind of stupid, but I’m pretty sure I have thought about this at some point, maybe many times. If you know a good answer to this question, let me know. I’m sure there is one.

The quiet green streets you see at the top of this post are Gower Street and some streets to the west of St Pancras International station. While the street running past the southern faces of St Pancras and King’s Cross – and the British Library, and the northern faces of the UCL hospital and the Wellcome Trust – is busy as hell, it’s still relatively pleasant, compared e.g. with Westminster Bridge and the whole tourist alley by the London Eye – and those streets stemming off of it, and those stemming off of those stemming off of the main road whose name is Euston Road, are surprisingly quiet. Hardly any people there, at least when I was there on a Saturday afternoon. This is the kind of London I like – paradoxically un-busy, green, pleasant, aesthetically fantastic.

So, if one day I could live in a place like this, I would. To finish off, I attach three pictures of two cultural institutions, each within a 10 minutes’ walk from King’s Cross Station: the interior of the British Library, and the Central St Martins building of UAL (University of the Arts London) – the same one I would’ve gone to if I had chosen the MA in Publishing. I must tell you, space-wise the University of Brighton is more appropriate for me than Central St Martins – though the quality and usefulness of teaching, I won’t know. When it comes to the British Library, its entrance hall will forever have a place in my heart. It’s a perfect bridge between the inside and the outside – the red bricks and the cloudlike staircase pushing against them make you think like you’re not quite inside; the seating arrangements make you feel like you’re at a cozy library at the same time as being at a transient railway waiting room, as if you were just midway your journey from a place of knowing less to that of knowing more.

How I really feel about Brighton

Dear friends and subscribers (though feel free to consider yourself my friend if we’ve ever engaged in any sort of exchange of comments or messages, isn’t this what everybody does now in the era of Facebook friends and followers?), thank you for your patience and apologies (or you’re welcome?) for not posting for a few weeks. I went home for a couple of weeks, meaning I was in Torun (and only in Torun) over Easter and a little longer. I went there because I hadn’t been there since September last year and I have friends there that I want to stay in contact with. Unfortunately, I don’t have a cat there anymore, not since the night after my birthday, though only now that I was home for two weeks did I realise what it actually means to lose your last cat. It means being alone – really alone – when no humans apart from you are home. For the first time was I actually alone in my parents’ flat – this never happened before because we got cats when I was 5 or younger, so I never stayed home alone, which is justified. And I tell you what – being home alone is truly uncomfortable. Home doesn’t mean the same thing without fur and cat hairs everywhere that I’m allergic to. It means that when I’m sneezing and scratching my face and limbs and my throat hurts I’m unsettled because I don’t know why that is instead of happy because I’m at home with my cat. Anyway, this is my main impression from being home for Easter. Aside from the realisation that I’m not ready to move to Torun completely, not yet.

I thought I was after my stint (or stunt?) living in Torun for many months during my final year of undergrad. Living there was great, but now I think this was mainly because a) I stayed busy with uni work, b) I worked at JustEat which paid me and got me out of the house all the time so I could never get fully lazy, c) my cat was there and so was an endless supply of great filter coffee, and d) it wasn’t now. I don’t know, I guess there’s a time and place for everything, and sometimes time just isn’t right for whatever it is that you might want to do eventually, but you’re not supposed to do it yet, just not yet, not right now.

When I got back to Brighton – and when I was on my way from Luton to Brighton – on Monday night this week, I felt a huge sense of relief and at-peace-ness coming from the realisation that I was coming back to Brighton, and that I was supposed to be there, not anywhere else! You might know that I went to Edinburgh for a few days just a month ago, and everything in Edinburgh felt familiar, apart from the awareness that I was not there to be a university student. I was there to be a graduate coming to visit friends who had stayed there, because they were either still studying, or they were continuing to lead their lives up in that city. Something I don’t really understand, because I clearly couldn’t do that, but the thing I actually don’t understand, I bet, is the why I couldn’t stay there. Edinburgh seems to be the shit to everybody. Everybody loves it, everybody sees it as the best city to live in, and I just don’t. I moved to the opposite end of this long island to live and study, while I was perfectly capable of staying in Edinburgh to live and study, so why didn’t I do that? Mysteries! My philosophy of ‘connect the dots’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’ comes in in puzzles like this, and I am glad to have at least this way of coping with happenings in my life, since I don’t have the best anger management skills and generally the best relationship with regret.


How I really feel about Brighton, then, I already said – Brighton is the best and at the moment I don’t want to be anywhere else. I wish my world was in Brighton because here I have everything I need – coffee, the sea, books, good architecture, and an easy access to London. There’s a national park just outside the city and you can go to the beach literally every day, even twice or thrice a day if you wanted to. There’s an Odeon and lots of independent coffee shops, and Starbucks, and Costa, so regardless of whether I want to watch Netflix or go to the cinema, or get a 拢4 or a 拢1 coffee, I can do it. I can go hillwalking or sit on the beach. There’s a swimming pool and the sea, too, so I can swim anywhere, anytime. There’s two universities. I can live in the city centre or commute if I want to. There’s also a bunch of Aldis, a Morrisons and an Asda, so I never have to step foot in a Lidl or Tesco if I don’t want to. I’ve gotten now to the silly bits of liking Brighton, but I swear, this is a great city. It’s only downside is the difficult access to the airport that can take me to Poland, but maybe it’s actually a blessing? I’ll treat it like a blessing from now on since I like Brighton so much.

I never expected to love Brighton this much, but I did have a good feeling about this city before coming here. Possibly mostly due to its location by the sea and the picturesqueness of its architecture. But I’m a geographer and an architectural historian, so what else should I look at? Of course, the quality of the library, and while the University of Brighton library has fallen short of my expectations, at least I can hope the University of Sussex library (how very beautiful, designed by Sir Basil Spence in the 1960s!) is much better equipped. I don’t know, I haven’t checked yet (but I know I can access it, it’s not like the Main Library in Edinburgh).

There’s certainly downsides associated with attending a former polytechnic/plateglass university. This is the only thing I don’t like about Brighton – it’s the University’s position in national rankings. But I came here for history of design (wrong choice!), so I didn’t bother to look at universities that didn’t have an established design history department. Anyway, not much to do about this now, so I’m just sticking with what I’m doing and enjoying the ride. And hell, I am enjoying it because I’m in Brighton.


If you read all of this, wow! Who would? You did. Nice. I appreciate it so much. Now, let me go back to the library, because I’m sitting in a Pret at the Brighton train station. (You should come visit me. The train station is so cool and it’s literally up the street from the best part of Brighton, Sydney Street).

#1 – Some developments just don’t make sense

19 March 2022 – massive thank you to the 50 people who have so far subscribed to my site! Every post like and comment (the latter are more scarce) matters hugely to me, and I hope you find my 馃劜馃劸馃劷馃厓馃劥馃劷馃厓 at least a tiny bit interesting, entertaining, helpful, or inspiring.

Now, to the point:


Real estate developments divide into those that make sense and those that don’t make sense. Any site redevelopment, regardless of its size – from micro to large scale – can be classified according to these two categories. Fortunately, the Big Build in Lewes Road, Brighton, belongs to those that make sense.

Further examples: the development of the land north of the existing UMK (Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika, English: Nicolaus Copernicus University) campus makes sense because that campus was specifically laid out in such way in the fabric of the 1970s Torun that its situation allows for the expansion of the university that keeps the buildings together, as a continuous whole. Stylistic choices require a separate consideration, and a rant is compulsory if we are to regard the ‘renovations’ done to the Chemistry Department (Wydzial Chemii) buildings in Gagarina street and the UMK Aula (assembly hall). However, I do side with Collegium Humanisticum (2010-2011), though rather not with the Biology and Earth Sciences (BiNoZ) department building, which was finished in 2006 and it looks very much like it was built in 2006 (that is, not good).

(I’m not the only one who feels this way about the Biology building. I quote a 2012 article from Gazeta Wyborcza Torun: “Ten dziwny gmach, odwr贸cony ty艂em do g艂贸wnej osi campusu, by艂 pierwsz膮 rys膮 na starannie zaplanowanej strukturze miasteczka. Zacytujmy fotografa i grafika Jacka Chmielewskiego, kt贸ry swego czasu recenzowa艂 go w Gazecie: -Budynek przyt艂acza. Jest mieszanin膮 styl贸w. Na jego elewacji znajdziemy zar贸wno element jak najbardziej wsp贸艂czesny w postaci wycinka przeszklonej kuli, jak i tak偶e pilastry naro偶ne w stylu jak najbardziej historyzuj膮cym (鈥). Nie wiemy, kt贸r臋dy i艣膰 do dawnej cz臋艣ci BiNoZ. (…) Kr贸tko m贸wi膮c, to najwi臋ksza pora偶ka architekta, gdy korzystaj膮cy z budynku musi pyta膰 o drog臋.” Translated into English: This strange edifice, with its back turned to the main axis of the campus, was the first crack in the carefully planned-out structure of the university town. Let’s quote the photographer and graphic designer Jacek Chmielewski, who once upon a time reviewed the building in Gazeta: ‘The building overwhelms. It is a mixture of styles. On its elevation we will find both contemporary elements such as the segment of a glass sphere, and corner pilasters in a very much historicising style (…) We do not know which way we should go to get to the old part of the Biology and Earth Sciences Department. (…) In short, it is the greatest failure of an architect when the user of the building has to ask for directions.).

Another example: the housing blocks right outside my home and a bit further up the street by the tram terminal in Slowackiego street, Torun. That ‘development’ (I would rather call it ‘crime’) makes little sense, if any at all. The unsightly blocks with the texture of a standard insulated block (=no texture at all; if it was plywood, it’d look both better and more interesting) in questionable hues of orange took the place of a large playground, car park, and two football fields, one large and one small one. It got rid of some valuable trees and added tons of kostka Bauma (Bauma cube) and concrete to the neighbourhood. And guess what arose last year, and even before, as an issue to be addressed in this part of Torun? Parents complained that there is no playground near where they live. A proposal was made to replace a green area further down the road, opposite Koszary (Mickiewicza street, area west of the Arts Department building at the Reja/Mickiewicza intersection) – an area which I really like and consider it valuable for its greening, so aesthetic and calming, properties. Guess what? You should’ve never built housing blocks in a part of town that is already dense in housing. Otherwise you’re turning it into slums with people and flats but no amenities. I guess everyone should get a solid education within the fields of geography, architecture, and urban studies, so that thinking geographically and laterally is something everyone in the country is capable of and utilises in all aspects of their life. Otherwise we’re destined to become like the classic West – short-sighted and a-little-too-late.

But the subject of my tirade isn’t the BiNoZ building, or even the crime against the neighbourhood committed in my part of Bydgoskie Przedmiescie more than 10 years ago (the blocks I just discussed). It’s the Big Build of Brighton – a redevelopment of the Preston Barracks area adjacent to Lewes Road, between the big Sainsbury’s and Moulsecoomb train station. Unfortunately, this post developed (excuse the pun, or, half-pun?) in such way that there’s no room for writing about the Big Build here – so please do check back in some weeks into the future, once I’ve written and posted about the Big Build itself. Or, if you haven’t already, subscribe to email notifications about new posts on kotersey.com. In settings you can choose to receive immediate, daily, or weekly notifications (I usually prefer to have weekly notifications, as I don’t have the headspace to read all posts at once).

Storytelling through houses in The Sims 2 – Pleasantview (part 1)

It’s no surprise that settings can be, and often are, important parts of a story told through a movie/book/show/whatever other fictional form. But so far, video games (or computer games, or digital games) have not been classified as fictional forms until very recently, and their status as ‘fictional forms’ has been neglected and even rejected. But what players often point out when comparing different renditions of The Sims games – The Sims (2000), The Sims 2 (2004), The Sims 3 (2009), and The Sims 4 (2014) – is the differences between the stories these games tell, and the extent to which they incorporate these stories into the game.

A particular set of stories in a video game (as well as other types of cultural texts, such as books, movies, or analogue games) is called ‘lore’. Lore is by no means a new word – it’s a pretty old one actually, and Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “traditional knowledge and stories about a subject”. That’s why we have the word “folklore”, which is “the traditional stories and culture of a group of people” (as well as one of Taylor Swift’s best albums!). Lore in the context of The Sims games is used to describe the collection of stories that the games tell through the characters, the relationships between them, their memories, world structure, and in-game descriptions of households etc. Fragments of the lore can also be found in paratexts such as tweets and other content published by people officially associated with the franchise (e.g. the so-called “SimGurus” – @SimGuruFrost, @SimGuruGraham, and others on twitter).

A signature thing about The Sims games is that they tend to tell the stories of a number of Sims who re-appear in the different renditions of the game, only at different points in time in the lore timeline. For example, a Sim named Bella Goth is present in the first The Sims game as an adult living with her husband Mortimer and child Cassandra. In The Sims 2, Bella is not present in the game, but her family is – only now Mortimer is an elder, Cassandra is a teenager, and there is also Bella’s second child, Alexander, who is a child. Bella is still present in the storytelling of The Sims 2, as the story goes that she went missing from Pleasantville, where she had resided with her family, and some mysterious sightings of her have since happened in another neighbourhood called Strangetown. In The Sims 3, Bella appears again, only this time the timeline has gone back – she is a child and her name is Bella Bachelor, which is her maiden name. In The Sims 4 the timeline is somewhere between that in the first and second game, as Bella lives with Mortimer and their two children in a world called Willow Creek.

The timeline and storyline are not always consistent between all these games. Add to that the console editions of The Sims, and there is a bunch of information that sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t follow the rules of logic. This lengthy intro has hopefully explained some ways in which The Sims games perform storytelling, and now I can talk about what I came here to talk about, which is the role of architecture in the telling of stories in The Sims 2.

Sure, you could say that the digital, 1-0-1-0 (binary code!) buildings made by players in a video game are not really architecture. And you may be right. But I needed that word to make you think like the world in the game is a real world, and so buildings in that world can actually be considered architecture. Anyway, you know what I mean. How can houses tell stories through the way they were built?


Goth family house, 165 Sim Street. Source: Sims.fandom.com.

The Goth family house 165 Sim Lane, Pleasantview

The exterior looks like it’s made of shingle, a popular exterior covering option for houses in North America in the 19th and early 20th century. While the Goth house doesn’t have a roofed porch – which is a shame since because of that the house looks a bit empty (though no less iconic) – the intricacy of existing details may suggest that the house could have been built sometime in the 19th century (in Sim time, obviously; though time in The Sims is somewhat frozen, I’ll write about this one day). The house doesn’t look Queen Anne. It doesn’t look Eastlake. If anything, it gives a slight flavour of the Shingle style. Maybe it was designed by the Sim equivalent of McKim, Mead and White? Like, maybe it lacks the horizontality (William G. Low House, 1887), but it sticks to the similar range of 90 and 45 degree angles and a modest colour palette kept in the browns.

There are Goth-ic elements to the Goth house in The Sims 2, but it’s certainly not like the entire house is Gothic (or Neo-Gothic, more appropriately). But it’s not like it was possible to make a fully Gothic house in The Sims 2, anyway. The Build Mode in TS2 was pretty advanced, but not advanced enough to be anything like The Sims 4, where you can change the shape of the roof from concave to convex; the extent of the roof overhang; the height of house foundation; the height of walls; build basements without using tragically complicated tricks and cheats, etc. The Goth house in The Sims 4 is a lot more Gothic (if Gothic has a scale?) – see image below. The two houses have little in common, but what they have in common, you could say, are the grey brick exterior; chimney; railings and fences that are more on the intricate side; more old-looking windows, with many divisions of the glass pane; and that neither of them is particularly pretty. On the interior, they have more in common – they feature expensive, regal-looking furniture and stick to darker colours, whether that be black, dark red, dark green, dark blue, or dark brown.

There is a small cemetery behind TS2 Goth house. Combined with the old willows and the general ‘old look’ of the house, we find out that the family who lives there (=the Goths) has probably been here for a while. The house has certainly been there for a while, since it is old, the big willows outside are old, and there’s graves… because you know, you don’t typically find graves at a freshly finished house, I guess.

The Goth household house in Willow Creek, The Sims 4 (2014). Source: lilsimsie.

The Caliente and Lothario houses – 170 Main Street & 150 Main Street, Pleasantview

Images of both 150 and 170 Main Street lots come from sims.fandom.com articles for the lots. These articles claim that these houses, together with three other neighbouring houses in Pleasantview that look similar (same shape, looks, and the presence of palms… in a presumably temperate suburb?), are referred to as “the Condo District”. I have not seen this term, or any other reference to them being “condos”, myself. Condos are most often understood as building that consist of several residential units with some jointly owned common areas; however, there can also be “detached condo(minium)s”, which resemble detached, single-family houses, but are considered condos because the external facilities (such as streets, yards, exteriors, etc.) and/or recreational facilities (e.g. swimming pools, tennis courts, etc.) are jointly owned and maintained by a community association, i.e. an association of owners of the condominiums in the complex. The term comes from Latin condominium, which combines the prefix con- (together) with dominium (dominion, ownership). Not something I’ve thought of before, but it makes complete sense now! The condo residents own their own flats/houses, BUT they own some facilities together with other condo residents.

Still, it’s not like I can justify the use of the word “condo” for these lots – but also, I don’t have access to The Sims 2 at the moment, so maybe I’m missing something from the other lots’ descriptions?

When it comes to the residents… Dina and Nina Caliente are daughters of Flamenco Caliente (who was potentially Spanish/Latino) and Nighat Al Mahmoud (who was potentially of Arab descent). (Note that the Caliente sisters’ family tree looks different in The Sims 4, where their mother is Katrina Caliente. Katrina’s maiden name is unknown, but we know that she likes Don Lothario, potentially romantically, just like her daughters). (Also note that any discussion re ethnicities in The Sims 2 is only dependent on ethnic connotations of name as if they existed in the real world; Sims have no in-game system of acquiring or inheriting ethnicity, nationality, and other cultural identities – anything like that is given by the player independently of the procedural gameplay).

Don Lothario is the town’s Lovelace – a fit man, allegedly of personal charm and visual valour. He’s engaged, but truly, his Life Aspiration is Romance, so living alone in a trendy modern single-household house suits him better, as it’s a perfect place for luring potential lovers into and showing off. Same goes for Nina and Dina Caliente, really. Nina also has the Romance Aspiration, while Dina’s Aspiration is Money, so a modern, trendy, and not-cheap-looking house suits them well and responds to their desired lifestyles of hedonism and material comfort.


The Broke family house – 55 Woodland Drive, Pleasantview

The 55 Woodland Drive is home to the Broke family: Brandi (nee Newbie), Dustin, and Beau. Dustin and Beau are sons of Brandi and her deceased late husband Skip Broke. The house doesn’t look neglected as such, but it certainly looks like whoever lives there might be low on money – the house is fitted with cheap, cheap-looking furniture, particularly the fold-up garden chairs and table in the kitchen. The oddity is that Brandi’s red bedroom looks out of place here, as her bed is from the more expensive side than the rest of the house.

While the house isn’t a trailer, it certainly bears resemblance to it with its elongated shape and single-storey-ness. From the outside, it also looks like it was made of the cheaper materials, potentially some plastic horizontal siding and raw slabs of cement as the foundation. The landscaping isn’t rich, and the path leading up to the entrance stairs is also cement tiles, which could potentially be associated with more ‘grungy’ or ‘shabby’ neighbourhoods (I’m putting the apostrophes here because personally I grew up amid lots of concrete and I’m hesitant when it comes to attaching classist interpretations to building materials – but that’s what I’m doing here anyway). Overall, the house looks like pretty good match for the “Broke” family (who’s literally broke), and the odd red bedroom suggests that there’s something… well… kind of special about the relationship between Brandi Broke and her late husband Skip. Why is this bedroom so red and extravagant? It is up to the player to fill in the gaps in the story.


Pleasant family house, 215 Sim Lane. Source: Sims.fandom.com.

The Pleasant family house 215 Sim Lane, Pleasantview.

The house at 215 Sim Lane in Pleasantview is a large detached home with a steep roof and a facade that makes it resemble a “Stockbroker Tudor” type of house. A “Stockbroker Tudor” is a term coined by architectural historian/cartoonist Osbert Lancaster (1908-1986), used by him to describe a style of house that employed pastiche Tudor features on the facade – hence “… Tudor” (see below). The “Stockbroker” part comes from the fact that this style was initially limited to well-off citizens – such as stockbrokers – as it was expensive to produce such a house.


This style became popular in the first half of the 20th century in Britain. However, it has since also appeared in the United States and other Anglophone countries. In his 2015 book The Tudor Home (illustrated by photographs by Paul Rocheleau), Kevin Murphy wrote that the style was “equated with stability, venerability, and success in society and business, due in no small part to the notoriety of the ‘stockbroker Tudor’ neighborhoods in New York City鈥檚 toniest suburbs” (Murphy 2015, p18). This is what’s significant for the storytelling of the Pleasant family – the family is to be viewed as one that’s successful, a fulfillment of one’s dreams about building a family, a house, and material wealth. After all, the mother in the family – Mary-Sue (though this name can also mean a lot…) – works in the political career (even though she is only an intern, level 2 of the Politics career – I guess this emphasises that she has little time for activities other than work, which relates to the epitome of career success in the conventional Western society). Her husband Daniel, on the other hand, is on level 8 of the Athletic career, working as Assistant Coach. This means he earns an impressive 1,488 Simoleons per working day (working 5 hours x 3 days per week). Because of his career level, the family earns a substantial amount each week, so their earnings could match the house’s worth, which is just over 100,000 Simoleons.

Osbert Lancaster’s illustration of a Stockbroker Tudor house in his book Post to Pillar, 1938. Source: W.

If we want to read more into the social meaning of the (Stockbroker) Tudor style, we may mention its function as recalling a sort of “escapist fantasy“, distancing the inhabitants of such house from the modern, industrial, conflicted world (Murphy, in Vanderbilt University History of Art Blog, 2018, para2). Tudor homes could “give the impression of being more established, not be so much nouveau riche as old riche”, or to distinguish the house owner from non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants to the US, particularly New York City suburbs (ibid, para3). Now, there would definitely be reason for Daniel Pleasant to try and impress other people – he has the aspiration of Romance, and a developing affair with the housemaid, Kaylynn Langerak.


Dreamer family house, 195 Main Street. Source: Sims.fandom.com.

The Dreamer family house – 195 Main Street, Pleasantview

There is little remarkable about this house. And the Dreamer family is hardly remarkable – the inhabitants of the house are pretty low profile. There’s Darren and his teenage son Dirk, living just the two of them since Darren’s wife and Dirk’s mother Darleen died. When the player first enters the lot, the following notification pops up:

Darren Dreamer wants to paint for a living, but does he have the skills to pay the bills? Those past-due statements are starting to pile up…

I guess Darren isn’t a remarkable artist, the same way that the house is not remarkable at all. It is a sort of a blank canvas, ready for the player to take to new heights (or in the opposite direction) along with Darren’s career. The future of Dirk isn’t certain either, as he’s only a teenager with no particular storyline to him.


Here are just some examples of how buildings created in The Sims 2 by the game’s producers relate to the storylines of the Sims inhabiting them. Like the Sims 2 reality, the buildings seem strongly embedded in the United States tradition. Although the game is relatively old – compared with other popular titles on the video game market – and is celebrating its 18th birthday this year, its capacity to tell stories was no weaker back in 2004 than it is now, in the game’s fourth rendition, The Sims 4 (2014-).

Pleasantview isn’t my favourite neighbourhood in TS2, it’s actually Strangetown because of how strange its stories are (aliens, ghosts, spectres, and all). Pleasantview has to do for part 1, though. Stay tuned for more Sims-analytical content on my blog.

Park Close flats, Coldean – redevelopment proposal

Two years ago, a proposal was made to replace the old Meeting House at Park Close, Coldean – a ‘garden suburb’ of Brighton – with a new development of 12 flats. The Meeting House was built in the 1950s and used by the Mormon community (i.e. the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), but since 1993 it has served a residential function.

This is what the Meeting House looks like (or at least looked like in September 2012, but it hasn’t changed much since then):

The old Meeting House, 2012 Google Street View screenshot.

And this is an artist’s impression of the proposed development:

An artist’s impression of proposed new Park Close flats, to replace the old Meeting House.

Sadly, the artist’s impression does not show well what the flats would actually look like once they’re built. It seems to still be more of a conceptual image than a realistic rendering. Even the immediate surroundings of the redevelopment aren’t shown – grey blocks is as far as it gets, and we can’t see the neighbouring houses or the texture of the road. The artist also committed what happens nearly all the time – the image is set in summer/late spring, thus taking advantage of the luscious vegetation. Any building, especially classic English red brick, just pops when you put it against vivid greenery.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any more realistic renderings of the proposed development. Therefore, the only thing I can say for sure now is to comment on the Meeting House. It’s an interesting building, and a building of interest – speaking to local history in terms of who lived there, and in terms of architectural styles that were preferred at the time of construction. Mormon churches do not have a uniform look. However, I would dare say that Mormon churches in Britain may not follow the same logic as that when a Mormon church is built in North America. Not only the British Mormon temple is bound to be smaller, but also there tends to be less space available for the construction, as a rule of thumb when comparing the UK with anywhere in North America outside of metropoleis (NYC doesn’t overflow with space).

A lot of other Christian churches built after World War Two in Britain followed the Modernist style, since Modernism was the style of postwar Britain – even though the Festival of Britain, which was patently Modernist, didn’t pay much (if any) attention specifically to religious architecture (Grieco 2021, 236).

From Brighton and Hove News, we find out that the former owner had previously made three attempts to knock down the building and replace it with houses – in 2014 and 2017. However, both times he was refused planning permission. It’s not entirely clear why permissions were refused, but at least once it was potentially because the proposed new buildings were “out of keeping with the hip-roofed bungalows surrounding it”.

In the planning statement, consultants Lewis & Co Planning said: 鈥淭he proposed frontage would replicate the semi-detached chalet bungalow appearance of many of the surrounding properties on Park Close.鈥

Jo Wadsworth, Brighton & Hove News, 5 August 2020

Personally, with the information I have at this moment, I wouldn’t support the development. None of the proposed flats are planned to be affordable, and it’s a fact that Brighton has an issue with housing, especially not enough affordable housing. So, the only case in which I would welcome the redevelopment of the old Mormon church site is if the flats were affordable housing, like the development currently under construction next to Varley Park. Bear in mind the current building in Park Close is from the 1950s, and so I’d say it is a place of local historical interest.

However, we now know that the redevelopment was approved in early October 2021. The main debate among councillors voting on the permission was with regards to the accessibility of these buildings, and how they were not particularly accessible – more of a tokenic presence of wheelchair ramps than a truly accessible proposal. Despite that, the majority of councillors voted in favour of it, so permission was granted.

Reference links:

http://www.theargus.co.uk/homes/property/news/19618062.wheelchair-ramp-concerns-meeting-house-flats-coldean/ Sarah Booker Lewis, 11 January 2021. The Argus. [Accessed 12/2/2022]

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19635742.planning-condition-approved-meeting-house-coldean/ Sarah Booker Lewis, 1 October 2021. Planning condition approved for Meeting House in Coldean. The Argus. [Accessed 13/2/2022]

http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2020/08/05/flats-planned-on-former-church-site/ Jo Wadsworth, 5 August 2020. Flats planned on former church site. Brighton and Hove News. [Accessed 9/3/2022]

Regency Society, Brighton. Joinable at 拢20 fee per year (or less if subscribing for longer amount of time).

Book: Post-war Architecture between Italy and the UK: Exchanges and transcultural influences. Lorenzo Ciccarelli, Clare Melhuish. Copyright: 2021 Publisher: UCL Press Lorenzo Grieco, Chapter Post-war British church architecture and the Italian model, pages 236-254.

Writing from the basement

I often write posts on here from a basement. It’s a basement at Pavilion Parade, Brighton, because it’s a place where you can sit down and it’s pleasant and isn’t a beach so you can use a laptop. The other place where you can sit down and it’s nice is the beach, but it’s not so good for using laptops there. I mean, I’ve never tried, and to be honest, I saw someone using their laptop on the Palace Pier the last time I was there. But while on the beach, I like to be busy by being on the beach only, not stuck in my head trying to unstuck it with a website. So when in Brighton, I usually write from here – the basement.

And it often happens in-between my classes on Tuesdays. There isn’t much else to do in-between those classes. The only two decent options that I have, really, is either reading or writing something on my laptop. This is because starting to watch a movie in the middle of the day might be quite disruptive, and since I have class only one day a week anyway, I want to keep this day as studious as possible. ‘Oh why,’ you could say, ‘Asia, you could after all use your lunchtime to have lunch?’. And do know that I do have lunch pretty much every day, which might as well be a tick off the list of successful taking care of yourself as a young adult. That is, if you forget the fact that too often it is some basic sandwich, an Oasis and crisps bought for 拢3.30 from the Student Union shop, because so far this year (and bear in mind it’s almost mid-March) I’ve refused to cook myself meals that produce leftovers that I could later pack up for a packed lunch. I don’t even have anything to pack my lunch in, and whenever I visit the Brighton & Hove city library, I start to think that perhaps there is something about pretty/silly/cool lunchboxes – if I bought one just because it made me laugh/go aww/want to show it off to friends, it could be a good excuse to actually prepare some lunch and put it into that box. (Why the library? OH, because in order to get into the library you have to walk through a gift shop first, which is a lot of book-related stuff which is legit, but also I’m not paying 拢10 for a tiny lunchbox, so all that official HP and GoT merchandise really means nothing to me).

The location of the Brighton & Hove Jubilee Library is a little bit strange, when you think about it. There’s a big flat grey square in front of its entrance. To the east, there’s the big Prince Regent Swimming Complex. To the west, there’s Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi, and Tesco Express (is it just me or suddenly everything at Tesco requires you to use your Tesco Clubcard in order to be a reasonable price at all? like, all sales items need you to use your Clubcard. I have one, but usually it sits in my wallet at home, since I’ve switched from carrying a wallet <it was too heavy because of all my loyalty cards> to carrying my cards in my pockets, since I don’t ever need change for anything, ever). And to the south there’s the Chilli Pickle, a fancy Indian restaurant. You could say it’s a fairly Brighton square because it’s multicultural; I’d say it’s Brighton because it makes little sense. There’s a fair share of poverty mixed into the less-cheap restaurant scene of the square – either the poverty of the sad empty space, without a flowerbed or a bush in sight; or the homeless outside the Tesco or inhabiting the benches outside the library; or the hollowness and hostility of the streets leading to that place, where instead of being baited by colourful storefronts and outdoor cafe seating (but head to the next parallel street and you’ll get all that and more in Bond Street), you’ll always get honked on by delivery vans (or some other vans, maybe they actually contain mutilated human bodies? who knows) and other damn cars trying to pass through. Car arrogance, I’m telling you – carrogance – but if you want to get carless, go to the Netherlands. Carlessness isn’t Brighton’s brand; Brighton’s for the queer stuff.

(To answer any potential questions, no, I won’t be here for the Brighton Pride Parade. It’s in August and I’m not planning on being here then. I won’t even be here for the Brighton Gin Festival, because it’s in July. Out of the two, I’d much rather go to the Gin Festival – so long as there’s rose lemonade provided).

I’ll tell you what, I really wanted to get in some vegetables for lunch, but there simply weren’t any. Urban Eat might market themselves as supporting urban gardening, but there isn’t much gardening that actually partakes in producing their food. So today it is oven baked walkers, a sugar free Ribena, and a chicken salad sandwich to tide me over until 8.30pm which is the time I’ll probably get home. Good thing I’ve got a flask of black coffee with me – I’ll consume at least one decent thing today.

Send help, I need to find out how to make packed lunches to stop throwing 拢3.30 at the BSU shop every lunchtime in exchange for a limp sandwich and kid juice.

(picture “for attention”; it’s the winter view of Foxbury campus in Britechester, The Sims 4 video game)

(also, my Dad’s turning 66 today – happy b-day Dad)

Universities for commuters

I remember learning in my 2nd year course Architectural History 2B: Order & the City about ‘commuters’ universities’ – at least that’s the phrase that somehow got stuck in my brain. These were the universities from the “red brick” wave, in the late 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. Examples: Newcastle University (est. 1834 as the School of Medicine and Surgery), University of Liverpool (est. 1881 as a college, awarded Royal Charter in 1903), University of Leeds (est. 1831 as Leeds School of Medicine, 1904 awarded Royal Charter), University of Manchester, or University of Sheffield. Some consider the University of Liverpool the OG red brick because of E. Allison Peers aka Bruce Truscot and what he wrote in his 1943 book Redbrick University.

Newcastle University’s signature arches, back in 1964. Architect: W.H. Knowles. Construction finished in 1911.
(creative commons) (sorry, I know they’re grey)

Newcastle University’s well-known Arches were erected in 1911 in the neo-Jacobean style. The best fact about the Arches is that they were replicated on the Newcastle University campus in Johor, Malaysia. The effect is rather comical, but hey, if you’re a red brick, you’ve got to show it. Indulge yourself here: The Arches, Newcastle University Special Collections blog (2 June 2021).

A lot of the other red bricks are red bricks not so much in the neo-Jacobean, but in the Gothic Revival style. Leeds has got the Great Hall, Liverpool has the Victoria Building, Manchester’s got the Contact Theatre… ok I’m kidding… the Whitworth Hall, if you wish. The Whitworth is not so much red brick as sandstone, but there’s also the Dover Street Building, which is very much red brick and Gothick too. Brick is one of the things I admire the most in England and the main reason I like England more than Scotland. Soz, Whitworth, but the sandstone just doesn’t cut it. Sanstone is the colour of piss or dirty underwear and you just can’t convince me otherwise. (Similar goes for magnolia. But I do like living in communal architecture, so I have to repeat to myself that its paleness contrasts nicely with the dark blue fittings).

Victoria building at the University of Liverpool. Architect: Alfred Waterhouse. Construction: 1889-1892.
漏 Historic England Archive/Mr Brendan Oxlade LRPS ref: 213789

All of these universities seem to have undergone transformations with regards to the structure and naming of the institutions. There was a lot of merging and re-forming – of schools of particular disciplines within one city (e.g. medicine and physical sciences in Newcastle), and the extraction of colleges from the federal Victoria University – a university that is now non-existent, but in its day had consisted of university colleges in Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds. Where I am now, the University of Brighton, has a similar history of starting sometime in the 19th century as a something-school, then a something-else-school was founded, then they were merged into something-academy-or-other-name, until finally receiving university status in 1992. But Brighton is part of a different generation, one called the “plate-glass university”, because clearly, it lacks the swaggy signature red brick that Red Brick Universities have. What it lacks in architectural swag, it makes up for in the swag of Brighton people, the fisherman hat being the ultimate Brighton trophy.

Aside from that red brick universities were built of red brick, I remember learning that a lot of these universities had urban campuses and so their provision for students differed from institutions like the University of Cambridge or Oxford. A word that appeared simultaneously with “red brick” was “civic”, as in a civic university that existed to make higher education serve a democratic purpose in the development of citizenship, rather than serving just the privileged minority, as it had been so far with the HE scene limited to places like Cambridge and Oxford. That’s because “civic” relates to both “city” and “citizen” (Barnett, in Vallance 2016, p17). In a more general sense, another bunch of universities across Europe could be described as civic in the “sense of having been founded as municipal institutions with strong roots in the culture of the cities in which they are located” (Vallance 2016, p16). These universities often had strong links to industry (because hello, cities were industrial beasts in the 19th century – it wasn’t knowledge economy just yet).

Great Hall, University of Leeds. Architect: Alfred Waterhouse. Construction: 1884-1894.
Photo by Betty Longbottom聽/聽CC BY-SA 2.0

But what interests me about this is that these universities were not like Cambridge and Oxford in the sense that they were happy-go-lucky rural retreats for the big brains, where everyone lived together, ate together, and chilled together on neatly cut lawns discussing big brain stuff like Socrates or Locke or Newton or whatnot. I remember learning about the architecture of those universities and that they were made of red brick (I think we’ve established that), but also that they had social rooms for students and staff commuting into the university.

And that’s where I was going with this. I’m a commuter now. I get the first morning bus every Tuesday (unless the UCU strikes are on) and either go into Starbucks or Costa or something or into the common room in Pavilion Parade, and stay on campus until 8pm because that’s when my last lecture finishes. Because I live outside the city, I rely on the common room for lunch and for shelter when I’ve got time to kill because I’m waiting for my next bus, but it’s miserable outside or just too windy or wet. The common room provides the basic architecture of shelter, and the basic infrastructure of a place to prepare hot drinks or food – although I still think that sto艂贸wki studenckie or bary mleczne should be available here, too, because I appreciate the 拢4 fish-and-chips, but what I really want is a 拢1 bowl of soup. Or pierogi, I don’t know. Something tasty that doesn’t rely on lemongrass or curry powder to taste good.

It’s really quite riveting to be a commuter. I remember that in middle school a few people from my year commuted into our school from outside my city, some on municipal buses, some on regional trains, and while I did not question the existence of whatever suburbs or villages they were from, I think the idea of not living where you were going to school remained abstract to me nonetheless. The situation I was in last year, when I studied from home while all teaching at my university was remote, was different from that – there was no school for me to go to, so commuting wasn’t necessary either – or rather it wasn’t possible at all, since campus buildings were shut. But I know that people commuted into Edinburgh before covid and it felt quite romantic to me – they were able to get top-class education without the burden of living in whatever drab accommodation Edinburgh threw at you, buggering off to forests green and suburbs deep to possibly forget that the City of Edinburgh even existed. (Yes, I didn’t like living in Edinburgh all that much. It’s ugly and looks like piss, too).

So the romanticism of living in the suburbs goes quite well with the romanticism of stealing peeks at the dome of the Royal Pavilion and the ankles of passers-by while sitting by the window in the basement common room at Pavilion Parade. And now my life has gained this sort of romantic hue, and while there’s little red brick around to make me feel like I live in the North, there’s at least the Cockroft Building with handsome dark grey brick with white grout and square miles of glass that blinds you when it’s sunny – plate-glass university, for sure. But the view from my dorm window is definitely a Cottage Picturesque or something like that, because I see hills, sometimes I see cows, and a lot of the time I feel like I live in Henford-on-Bagley when I look out the window, so I guess… well, my feelings about all those university styles remain as mixed as they were before, so it’d be best if I ended this post right now.


I guess I could call this series “Spilling the UniversiTea”, because what arises from writing about universities is all the controversial drama like who is the actual third-oldest university in England; who is plate-glass and who is red-brick (kind of like the Gen Z vs Millennial debate – or maybe you’re a cusper?); or does the Russell Group status really matter or is it just a gimmick. (I’d say it matters, but I wouldn’t take a bullet for this opinion). (By the way, I’m not much of a fan of this ‘spilling the tea’ metaphor because I despise all that has to do with TikTok – with the exception of these TikToks – but it just is so appropriate here).


Sources:

Newcastle University. “History of Newcastle University”. n.d. https://www.ncl.ac.uk/who-we-are/history/ [Accessed 28/2/2022]

Newcastle University. “The Arches”. Special Collections. 2021, 2 June. https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/speccoll/2021/06/02/the-arches/ [Accessed 28/2/2022]

Edgar Allison. Ann L. Mackenzie and Adrian R. Allan (eds.) Redbrick University revisited: the autobiography of ‘Bruce Truscot’. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996. https://archive.org/details/redbrickuniversi00peer/mode/2up [Accessed 2/3/2022]

Paul Vallance. Chapter 2. “The historical roots and development of the civic university.” The Civic University. The Policy and Leadership Challenges. Ellen Hazelkorn, John Goddard, Louise Kempton, Paul Vallance (eds.) Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.

William Whyte. Redbrick: A Social and Architectural History of Britain’s Civic Universities. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Brighton Half-Marathon 2022

Oh, what a day it has been. Fresh from the outdoors and inside my flat now, I’ve just returned from a day out that began at 4.30am when I woke up, through 5.33am when I boarded the 25 bus and 6.09am when I turned up at the volunteers’ tent, to 2pm when my volunteering job was done and 3.20pm when I left St Peter’s House Library with a few new books to (hopefully) browse in my free time.

As late as Tuesday this past week, I signed up to volunteer at the Brighton Half-Marathon 2022, the main charity organiser of which being the Sussex Beacon. Sussex Beacon is a Brighton-based charity that supports people living with HIV (the charity’s shop is actually one minute from my School’s office & common room – it’s the store with Freddie Mercury, which I saw on my very first September afternoon in Brighton). I don’t think I personally had any contact with the Sussex Beacon people, but on the day I worked closely with people from the events company that was contracted to organise the event. The Half-Marathon was very big – it had about 10,000 runners and many people spectating – but I was at the volunteers’ tent almost all of the time, so I never witnessed the magnitude of the event in whole. I only popped out about 200 yards from the tent or so, to use the generously spared coffee vouchers at a coffee van that was dispensing drinks from the back of the van (which looked pretty cool, and the variety of syrups they had available was adorable – they even had Pumpkin Spice Latte, S’mores, and Speculoos flavours).

My job was to help at the volunteers’ check-in – tick off their names, dispense hi-viz vests and breakfast bags. For about half an hour prior to the run’s start (9am), there was a frantic flurry of people looking for the baggage drop-off area. I started repeating “that way, about 200 yards or so” to everyone who stopped by (approximately every 5 seconds), even though I wasn’t sure what 200 yards were and if it was far or near. The weather today has been great the whole time and I was much less cold than I expected – in fact, I didn’t feel particularly cold at all despite ditching my raincoat and hat and never putting on gloves which I’d thought I couldn’t do without, but this might have something to do with being inside a tent which both stopped the wind and trapped the heat from the sunshine. It’s been sunny all day and it’s still is, and it’s 5pm right now and it really feels it should be dark by now because I guess I’m still not used to the idea of Spring coming, although I do see crocuses and daffodils springing everywhere. Mighty crocuses and daffodils. They really cheer you up. Add sunshine and you feel ecstatic, add rain and you feel like Sims will soon start running around in a mania because you’d made the decision to purchase the Seasons expansion pack for The Sims 4.

Some photos from the day:

And a compulsory para-reflection:

I don’t know what it is that makes me so happy when I volunteer. The explanation of ‘satisfaction from the fact that I have helped someone’ seems just a little bit too cheesy an idealistic. Thought: if I wanted to make it less cheesy but probably no less idealistic, a possible explanation might be the satisfaction from having taken an action towards establishing a world that does not rely on financial incentive and the consequent exploitation of workers but upon voluntary work and the free goodwill. A sort of indulging in an anti-capitalist crusade, the thing that seems to captivate so many, especially higher education students in their early 20s. But that just sounds not very me. I guess I’ll have to keep thinking.


By the way – plug: Ways to help Ukrainians today – GlobalCitizen.org

Not good news

I may or may not have slept two hours last night and gotten up at 5am because I was sick of not sleeping so I just started my day super early. While it was still dark. For, like, the next two and a half hours. I was surprised by how long it took to get light outside. It was still pitch dark at 6am which I was not expecting (lol why wasn’t I? it’s still February), and is, well, interesting because on Sunday I need to get up before 5am to get the bus and get to Madeira Drive for 6am. The Brighton Half-Marathon organised by the Sussex Beacon is happening this Sunday and I’ll be helping at the volunteers’ tent, doing I don’t know what, but hopefully being useful in one way or another.

I am really struck by yesterday’s news of Russia attacking, like, dozens of civilian sites and military targets, ‘n things like that. I don’t have the lingo. Still, it really damn blows, of course. Not cool to have a war raging next door to you, and I’ll never understand why anyone would start a war against someone who didn’t attack you first – but I guess human brains work in different mysterious ways. Anyway, I don’t know why I couldn’t sleep last night – right now it’s a perfectly sunny Friday morning (though still chilly, ’cause it’s February), but yesterday I went all around Brighton so I’m waiting for a phone call now and later I’ll head into the shop where I volunteer. My body is aching and this is part of what made last night a nightmare. I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do next week (and from next week on), so that’s fine, at least I’ll get to play that game that’s a bit escapist where you do enough stuff to keep you from thinking that you’re destroying yourself, you know.

Anyway, I wish there were things I could do – there’s a sense of powerlessness when you hear really bad news and you finally remember that life is not as immaterial as technology makes it out to be (something that also happens when you’re physically ill, and can’t distract yourself from it) – we get all degrees but what can we do at the end of the day? Most of us go into internships and graduate schemes and consulting roles (whatever that means) to kick off our careers, but then it turns out you can’t do anything that’s actually important.

That’s the mental dump for today. I’m watching the news in the background today because I really liked living at my parents’ home and putting the TV on and doing something else while alone in the house. I like to be home alone, but I also like to have the TV on. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

I dated a Brighton map (it’s from 1971)

At Shabitat, a place I volunteer at, I picked up a dated map from the free pile of stuff that we put out outside the entrance. I only pick up maps that are (a) especially pretty or curious, and (b) show the local area. This one is type B. It’s a map of Brighton & Hove, published by a then-London based company Geographica. But nowhere on the map could I find the date of publication. The map was dated, but not dated, you know. It had no date on it. But it was old. (And had an awesome cover, but the cover is irrelevant here).

So I googled “how to date a map”. And then I found out about the CUMBERLAND system used for dating maps. CUMBERLAND consists of 10 different letters, each of which stands for a different digit: C is 1 (one), U is 2, … N is 9, and D is 0 (zero). I wrote it out below in case your brain was lazy and cba’d to do the work:

C = 1; U = 2; M = 3; B = 4; E = 5; R = 6; L = 7; A = 8; N = 9; D = 0.

After finding out about this system, I wanted to check whether this is perhaps the code used for my map. So I scanned carefully the entire map – well, mostly the margins, because I didn’t think that it’d be alike a paper town – hard to spot, hidden somewhere in the map text. And I found it in the bottom-left corner of side B of the map (i.e. the side that doesn’t show the city centre, but rather the more marginal areas of the conurbation). The letters are L.LC and N.LC, so if I interpreted it correctly, the map dates back to September 1971 (N.LC = 9.71) or after, using data from July and September 1971 (L.LC = 7.71).

I’ve attached nine photos of different parts of the map. There are some big (in my opinion) differences between B&H then and now, which means that quite a lot of change has occurred in Brighton over the last 50 years. Which is to be expected, because we live in an era of acceleration (or at least some sort of it). I noted the significant differences in the image captions.

To find out more:

CUMBERLAND dating system: https://www.maps.thehunthouse.com/Streets/History_of_London_Street_Maps.htm (for easy finding, click Ctrl+F and type “cumberland”)

Brighton Marina: photos of Marina under construction, in 1973 (My Brighton & Hove): https://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/places/placesea/brighton_marina/brighton_marina

Brighton College of Technology/University of Brighton: milestones in UoB history (University of Brighton): https://www.brighton.ac.uk/about-us/your-university/milestones-in-our-history/index.aspx (I’ll write more on this soon)

Whittingehame College: brief history (University of Southampton Special Collections): https://www.southampton.ac.uk/archives/cataloguedatabases/webguidemss319.page

West Pier: photos in the final years before its closure in 1975 (The Guardian): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-22510880

All websites were accessed on 17/2/2022.

Side note: I didn’t make the jokes I had initially planned to make because this blog is publicly accessible and at my PGCE interview I was told by the interviewer to better privatise my social media and other online ventures, and if I can’t then be watchful of what I post. So I am being watchful.

Personal update 17/2/22

It’s wild that my last post is from 20th January, since I’ve had so many ideas for things to write about and have been collecting so many photos and images to illustrate all these things. I guess it’s the tiny bit of perfectionism in me that doesn’t let me finish a post without getting everything right and providing substantial amounts of facts and whatever theoretical BS I could dig up, under the pretense of “relating it to my degree” or whatever academic interest I could possibly argue is relevant.

Apparently there’s a storm in Europe, a storm called Dudley. I’m pretty sure we had a storm named Dudley before, which makes no sense because as far as I know they get different names every time, following the alphabetical order of letters. (Which just made me wonder, do hurricanes and storms ever get names beginning with V and X? Because if they do, that’s pretty mean, isn’t it? Excluding languages that don’t have these letters in their alphabets? If we’re trying to make everything offensive, why wouldn’t we make that offensive?).

I’m obviously going off on a tangent because I’m feeling absolutely crap today – I have several hypotheses as to why that’d be, none of them being appropriate for disclosing on a publicly accessible blog. I’m at uni now and trying to eat a sandwich which is falling apart every time I bite it because it’s a chicken salad sandwich. As far as sandwiches go, this one’s one of the most prone to pre-ingestion disintegration. But I’m not here to find a husband, so I guess it’s all fine.

I’ve been pretty happy recently because I finally got hold of The Sims 4 (which is a computer game, in case you’re not aware) and I can convert most of my boredom into creative pursuit, which turns it from destructive to constructive. Also because of that, I have waves of content that are waiting to get out of my head and draftbook* and into this blog. Right now they’re just making a whirlpool in my brain, but I tried to ease that a little bit today during my little Costa iced-flat-white hangout (which means, I was on a date with Miss Costa today, whereas two days ago my lunchtime date was Mr Sainsbury, who provided me with coffee). This is all to say, I sat at the Costa next to Aldi and wrote in my draftbook. What a cathartic feeling it is when you pour something that has been sitting in your head for weeks or months onto a page. Though I’m probably stating the obviousness.

* I’d argue that a draftbook deserves to be a single word as much as a notebook deserves to be a notebook, not a ‘note book’, and a sketchbook deserves to be a sketchbook. Not so sure about ‘scrapbooks’ though. I’m not on the scrapbooking wagon, so you can give me your own opinion in the comments.

The Goth-Elderberry twins [The Sims 4]

You know that moment when a totally random townie walks into your Sim family’s house and acts as if they were at their own home, while in your mind these two households live in totally separate universes? I bet you do, and I know I do. That thing happened, for example, when Cassandra Goth came back home from school and brought with her Rohan Elderberry of Britechester and Sofia Bjergsen of Windenburg. Different families, different towns, different timelines. Unless…

Unexpected encounters

One of the things I like about The Sims games is that you get to exercise your creativity. You come up with storylines when you create a family in CAS, and you come up with them on the spot when unexpected things happen in your game. You go with the flow, taking clues from the in-game environment and the random interactions that happen between the Sims in your gameplay. And so I took that random visit of Rohan and Sofia and eventually that relationship turned into a “Rock Band” of the high school that they go to. (I believe that the actual school building was placed in Windenburg, but somehow it makes more sense in my mind that they went to school in Britechester – particularly because Rohan’s storyline indicates that he moved to Britechester to be close to better education opportunities… but I don’t think it really matters at the moment).

The band rehearsed mostly at school and at the Goths’ house, since it had room and the musical instruments required for practice. Music brought Sofia and Cassandra together, and Rohan was an addition that just padded the band initially, but it made sense to me to keep Rohan and make him into a foreground character in the Goths’ story. Actually, some of it was thanks to the random pregnancy mod I had downloaded (sorry, I can’t check who was the modder at the moment! no access to my Sims PC). Cassandra and Rowan fell in their first loves with each other and it just happened, thanks to the randomness installed by the mod, that Cassandra had become pregnant before she graduated from high school.

Cassandra moves to Britechester

Of course, a teenage girl without a high school diploma was a bit of a nuisance, but Rohan’s grandparents were so loving and family-oriented that they allowed Rohan and Cassandra to build their family home in the Elderberries’ townhouse in Britechester. The house had three floors, so there was more than enough room for everybody. Rohan had kept the attic as his ‘territory’, and the grandparents kept their bedroom/office on the first floor. The big living room/dining area on the ground floor became the centre of family life, with the spacious dining table, the fireplace, and the kitchen right next door, where homemade recipes were prepared to the highest standards thanks to Grandma’s Cookbook (Grannies Cookbook by Littlbowbub, which I found out about thanks to OshinSims), which contained foolproof recipes passed down in the Elderberry family. Even Cassandra could make these recipes, and it’s not like she cooked a lot when she lived with Bella, Mortimer, and Alexander in Willow Creek. (Remember that Mortimer was a cooking aficionado – remember his skill level in The Sims 2?)

The Goth-Elderberry twins

Cassandra and Rohan ended up having twins – and this was not by my doing! Totally random game decision, I swear to you. And I don’t know about you, but I always try to make my newborn Sims’ names make sense.
Rohan’s grandparents are named Eleanore and Ekram. Most likely, Ekram and Rohan are both names of Indian origin. So, I thought I would look into Indian names, explaining it by that Cassandra grew to love Eleanore and Ekram so much for their generosity that she wanted to continue their family’s traditions. So Cassandra and Rohan’s twins – a girl and a boy – were eventually named Roshni (girl) and Arnav (boy). They were born when Cassandra and Rohan were 18 years old, and now the twins are 8, almost 9 years old.

The storyline is this: Cassandra didn’t go to university, as she is continually working on her music career. She’s a performer and spends most evenings playing music in venues across the Sim world. She’s not a hugely popular performer, so she’s nothing like the celebrities of Del Sol Valley. Meanwhile, Rohan went to Britechester University to study literature and he graduated with distinction. Eleanore and Ekram were incredibly helpful to both young parents when it comes to childcare, as the (great)grandparents had lots of time on their hands, being retired. There is no doubt that E&E played a crucial role in Cassandra and Rohan becoming successful in their respective fields by giving them the time to improve and supporting them financially by letting them live rent-free in their Britechester house.

Rohan loves sharing his love for books with Arnav, who has really taken to all sorts of books – and the family library always has something for Arnav to explore! Roshni, on the other hand, loves spending time with Cassandra and watching her rehearse for her music performances. She also loves throwing pyjama parties for her friends from school, and everyone participates then – Arnav and Roshni have a big, common circle of friends.

Lately, Eleanore and Ekram died from old age. But Roshni and Arnav got to spend a great deal of time with their great-grandparents and they will never forget it!