Sunday, January 30, 2005
I write this in a state of mental and physical exhaustion, after another weekend touring the streets and houses of Tunbridge Wells. My dad put us off the house we thought we liked by pointing out that it lacked privacy, what with the eyeball-to-eyeball view of the neighbours as you and they did their washing up and the public front which could well have the neighbours' kids and dogs running all over it come the summer. A home needs to be a sanctuary, a place to retreat to after work and commuting, so privacy is important. Oh, and we don't want to live next door to anyone with children. Ugh - heaven forbid.

Today we saw a house that hadn't been redecorated since 1974, another house with a picture of Uma Thurman sellotaped to the front door and the owner asleep on the sofa, and another which was so cold that the vendor was wearing gloves indoors. But then we saw a house that gave us that tingle. Lovely open-paln lounge, secluded and spacious garden, three bedrooms. Shame about the boy racers zooming up and down the street, but I think this could be the one. Until my dad puts us off again. I will, of course, keep you posted.

I visited Simon Finch Rare Books on Friday to choose my £250 prize. My eyes immediately fell upon a signed 1st edition of Philip Pullman's 'Northern Lights'. A snip at £9000. A paperback proof of 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' was £4000. There wasn't much in my price range, but I settled on a 1st edition of Iain Banks' 'The Wasp Factory', a signed 'Interview with the Vampire' and a signed 'The Remains of the Day'.

Friday night was karaoke night. I've been desperate to experience karaoke Japanese-style since leaving Tokyo, so I assembled a group of friends and colleagues - the ditty dozen - and took them to Karaoke Box Dai Chan in London's Frith Street. The rooms were smaller than those in Japan, and the competition to get on the mic fiercer, but everyone had a superb singsongy time, and I knew I'd had a good night when I awoke at 3am with ringing ears, a screaming head and a tongue like a dried-out cuttlefish.