A few weeks ago, I went to visit a college friend: he had just bought a small three-bedroom house in the outer suburbs of London. He thus became my first owner friend. I expected to be jealous. In reality, I’m just in shock. I am renting a room myself in a shared apartment in a condominium building. From where I am, a small terraced house in the outer suburbs is a palace.
Planted in front of the immensity (in my eyes) of my boyfriend’s living room, I have to resist the urge to give him milord. Wait, he even has a small piece of garden, with a barbecue at the back. It’s too much for me, I need a brochure, an audioguide, something. And someone would be well advised to stretch a cord of velvet between me and the sofa, just to prevent me from fiddling with it (I don’t believe it, I have a friend who owns a sofa!).
At the end of the guided tour, we stay for a few moments in front of an upstairs window, our gaze lost on these small suburban gardens. All these little corners of greenery drawn with a line, with their exuberant hydrangeas, their distended clotheslines, their smashed trampolines, their blackened garden furniture, their terrace! A neighbor has hoisted an English flag – it must be said that the neighborhood is still in the process of gentrification. I review all these ordinary rejects of England of the owners, and the sadness invades me. Here is a whole world of domestic normality from which I am excluded. A strange world, and so familiar at the same time. This is where I grew up, and I left ten years ago, convinced, naive as I was, that I would come back. Today I no longer believe in it.
Inaccessible, this world is no less captivating. Home is an old British obsession: for Kate Fox, author of Watching the English ([“Observer les Anglais”, non traduit], published in 2004, a year after the last peak in homeownership in the country), gardening, jobs around the house and expeditions to large DIY stores are among the pillars of British identity. But then
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The oldest of the British dailies (1785) and the best known abroad has belonged since 1981 to Rupert Murdoch. It has long been the reference newspaper and the voice of the establishment. Today, it has lost some of its influence and gossip accuses it of reflecting the conservative ideas of its owner. The Times switched to tabloid format in 2004.
Determined to no longer provide all its content for free, the British daily inaugurated in June 2010 a paid formula which obliges Internet users to subscribe to have access to its articles. Four months after the launch of the operation, the newspaper publishes the first results eagerly awaited by other press players: 105,000 people have become customers of its electronic offers. Among them, about half are regular subscribers to the various versions offered [site Internet, iPad et Kindle]. The others are occasional buyers. These figures, deemed satisfactory by the management of the Times should encourage other newspapers to accelerate their march towards paid access.