Naming My House

I have long felt ambivalent about house names. Which is to say, I liked the idea, but feared being derided for it.

There are, it seems, three levels of house-naming. There’s the housing-of-the-nobility type, where your ancestors named it centuries ago: Blenheim Palace, for example, or Windsor Castle. Or El Escorial (although who came up with the idea of naming a magnificent palace complex after a slag-heap I do not know).

El escorial blick von obenThen there’s the houses of the upper middle class, often appearing in Sherlock Holmes stories. Frequently named after plants: Copper Beeches, Wisteria Lodge. The Elms, that sort of thing. Not quite posh enough to be aristocratic, but definitely above the mere house-number.

And then there’s the lower end of the scale: little houses of, perhaps, lower middle class retirees, which they have given a cutesy name. Something cottagey, such as Ivy Cottage or Lilac Cottage or Bluebell Corner. Or something cheesy, like Wyshcumtru, Mon Repos (even if not Francophone), or Dunroamin.

Not having the kind of ancestors who qualify for houses ending in “palace” or “castle,” and not having any particular plants of distinction (“Next But One To An Enormous Pohutukawa” is not a catchy name), I am forced into the third category.

Mkermadecensis1727
I don’t think of our house as a cottage, although I suppose by some definitions it could be considered one. It isn’t rural, but it is a smallish house (99m2 or just over 1,000 square feet), built to house a working-class family. According to Wikipedia, being a terraced or “row” house does not preclude cottage-hood. (Wikipedia: learn something new every day.) However, my overdeveloped sense of aesthetics prevents me going down the cutesy and/or cheesy road. (How does “Cheesy Road” sound for a house name? Perhaps not.)

So I had to strike out on my own, and come up with a name I not only liked, but would use. I did consider The Abode of the Blessed (Makarios meaning blessed) but it was a bit too unwieldy. “I’ve just got to take the shopping back to the Abode of the Blessed and then I’ll come round for a cuppa.” I don’t think so, do you?

So then I was thinking about what I wanted the house to be like to live in, and I thought of the name Narrowhaven. Our house is tall and thin: two stories tall and five and a half metres (18 feet) wide – hence the Narrow part; and it is a peaceful house, both for us and, I hope, for those who come to visit us – hence the Haven part.

Pigeon Tower in Rivington - geograph.org.uk - 501205
Narrowhaven is also the biggest town in the Lone Islands (attached to the kingdom of Narnia) and is the centre of the slave trade. Not such a good association, true, but the town’s one appearance in the Chronicles concerns the abolition of slavery by Caspian X, and I am a big fan of the abolition of slavery (despite what the Gumpases of this world fear the effect on the economy might be).

I suggested the name to the Caped Gooseberry, and he seemed to like it too, so our house is now (un)officially called Narrowhaven. I haven’t worked up the nerve to put a sign on the gate yet – I’m not even sure that I want to, really. The last time I put up a sign it said “No Admittance Except on Party Business” which is a terrible name for a house, but a great sign for a mathom-party. We’ll see…

I Have A Dream

I have a dream… a great and far-extending dream.

Lincoln Memorial I Have a Dream Marker 2413

I dream of a world where people are not trapped on a consumerist treadmill – either as consumers or consumed. A world where everyone has enough, and no-one is weighed down by too much. A world that values quality above quantity. A world where beauty is seen in individuality, both in people and in things. Standardization is an excellent thing in a cup measure but it is not a measure for humans.

I dream of a world in which people are not trafficked to feed the desires of others, whether for cheap goods, sex, or service. A world where the innate dignity of human-ness is respected. A world where sex is a matter of mutual committed love, not a matter of force or a financial transaction.

I dream of a world where people are not treated as interchangeable units, but valued for their individual talents. A world where the educational systems encourage those talents to flourish, so they can be used for the benefit of all, and not merely the profit of one’s employer. A world where everyone has something to do, and can experience the satisfaction of a job well done. A world where work is a right and a blessing, not an onerous burden or a forlorn hope.

look up

I dream of a world where people are rewarded for the value of their work rather than the prestige of it. A world where people are considered of greater importance than efficiency, profitability and wealth. A world where the economy serves the people, not the other way around. A world where governments act in their people’s best interests, rather than compelling the people to act in their government’s best interests.

A world without corruption. A world where the justice systems provide justice, but are not deaf to mercy; a world where sentences are aimed at restoration and rehabilitation, not at retribution and revenge. A world where laws are simple (and few) enough to be understood by all, and founded on fairness and common-sense, rather than the preferences of powerful lobbies.

A world where there is enough food for everyone, food that is healthy both for the people who eat it, and the land which produces it. A world that is tended like a garden, not hunted down like prey. A world where housing, clothing, and all the necessities and joys of life are produced in ways that harm neither the environment nor the people which produce them, nor those people who eventually use them.

I dream of a world where people do not have to risk their lives to seek a better life for themselves or their children; a world where people in need are not smuggled across borders or turned back with violence, but welcomed with open arms and open hands. I dream of a world where the right to live is not conditional on the acceptance of others.

Ivan Kulikov Dreamer

I dream of a world which experiences the peace which is more than the absence of war; a world where even interpersonal conflicts are handled with grace. A world where people are taught the life skills they really need: how to care for themselves and their families, how to manage their resources well, how to have healthy relationships. A world where communities are stronger than corporations.

I dream of a world where people with mental or physical disabilities are not marginalized, dehumanized, or hidden away; but rather treated as human beings just like the rest of us: different, but the same.

I dream of a world where medical systems are not understaffed, overworked, over-prescribing or over-standardized, but able to treat each person individually, taking the time to help them understand the situation and their options, and to be an active participant in their healing rather than the passive undergoer of standardized treatment.

There is more to this dream than I can say, and people have used many different words to try to sum up different parts of it. Lagom. Environmentally friendly. Fair Trade. Boundaries. Open borders. Restorative justice. Abolition.
But I have one phrase which sums this all up for me: the kingdom of God.

Wickham Market Hoard

The kingdom of God, Jesus said, is like a treasure buried in a field. When a man found it, he sold off everything he had just so he could buy that field, and possess the treasure within it.
And this is a dream that is worth giving up everything for.

I can’t make this dream come true all by myself, I know that. But I can work on the parts of it that are given me to affect, and encourage those who I recognize as working on it too. I really do believe there is nothing more worth doing with the one life given to me.

If something is not worth dying for, it’s not worth living for either, because either way you are giving your life to it.
What dream are you giving your life to?