Ugly House

Close to where I used to live, there was the ugliest house in its long street. It was a small square single storey weatherboard, marooned on a slightly bigger square of uneven, greying concrete that filled up almost the entire empty yard behind a rusting wire fence knit with straggling weeds.

There are plenty of well proportioned, pleasingly designed neo-Classical buildinsg in Melbourne. This is one of them. The Ugly House was not that.

Melbourne features many well proportioned, pleasingly designed neo-Classical buildings. This is one of them. The Ugly House: not that.

That old home, with its shabby curtains and ancient window air con unit, always remained itself. I might not have noticed it, except it was painted a toxic, off-lime green that verged on neon, but grimier. The entire building, from ground to roof and it’s garage were painted so they couldn’t be missed. In summer, it radiated heat such that the colour rippled in the haze in the sunshine.

Where its double brick neighbours reclined into their anonymous frontages of balanced facades in browns, serious greys, and muted blues, or hid behind rambling gardens, the ugly house was loud and bold from its small space on the street.

The house was not even interestingy ruinous or abandoned. It was ugly, and lived in and gardenless.

The house was not even interestingly ruinous or abandoned. It was ugly, lived in and garden-less.

Unkempt, and unlovely, it was also unabashed. It proclaimed its flaws.

And I loved it.

Recently, I had cause to go by there again, but this time it was gone. The ugly duckling had been torn down, and in its place, two perfectly suitable and modern swans houses had been slapped up.

Of course, it was always going to happen like this, the house was nothing and the land everything, financially. However, the street is no longer memorable, the brick two storey town houses that replaced the Ugly House are everywhere. This street is now any street in almost any suburb of Melbourne, instead of somewhere. Sure, the house was hideous in an organic, amphibious way, but it made the area unique. It was jaunty in a way that belied its uncared for status and that made it intriguing. It was the eccentric uncle at family events. You knew where you were, when you saw the almost-but-not-quite lime painted and peeling Ugly House.

I think there’s lesson in this about writing and creativity and life.

You can work them out. I’m tired now.


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