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Mother of two Annette Cunningham is a freelance travel writer and columnist, working in media communications. She has two daughters at university and lives in Kidlington.

The After Life

Annette Cunningham

I’m not proud of myself, but I’m currently obsessed with stalking my exes. In fact, it’s getting serious and I’ve even started stalking the exes of people I’m close to.

To clarify, I’m defining my new pastime as ‘pursuing stealthily’ as opposed to ‘harassing with unwanted or obsessive attention’, as my victims are not in a position to take any remedial action since all are made entirely of bricks and mortar. It all started with TV’s ‘Location Location Location’. One week, my Facebook inbox suddenly became inundated (well, okay, I got three messages) with people excitedly telling me that a previous abode, a lovely little Grade II listed flat I had once owned, had enjoyed the privilege of having its virtues extolled on the small screen.

With modern television allowing you to watch what you want when you want (I recently binged on multiple ‘George and Mildred’ episodes over a single weekend – at the expense of my housework, social life and preferred cultural image), I tuned in keenly with a large bag of popcorn. I was horrified. One friend mentioned it had brought back happy memories; I wished I could say the same. It was horribly cluttered, they’d changed my tasteful colour scheme and none of the furniture worked. It was good to note though that my bathroom décor was untouched and all of my curtains were still in situ.

Now, the beauty of modern technology being as it is, it wasn’t long before I sought solace by tapping much older addresses into Google. It worked. Revisiting some of my earlier homes, via the photos from various estate agents conveniently made available for such needs, sent me on an enjoyable and sentimental journey. It was fascinating to take a virtual trip through houses I’ve not revisited for years. It proved time consuming – just from leaving home at 18 to the age of 22 I had rented accommodation at over 10 addresses including locations in Bath, Worcester, Oxford and High Wycombe, and lived and worked in an additional three pubs, all sited in delicious locations.

On reflection, one might accuse me of being somewhat unsettled and a tad flighty in my youth. Nevertheless, it was wonderful revisiting these much improved living rooms and remembering the get-togethers, as well as rekindling the memories of another kind of ex! The peeks inside former childhood homes have also been enthralling (there’s a fair few of those too – on the whole it’s been a reasonably nomadic existence) and not as painful as revisiting the settings I have personally created. Frankly, the former dining rooms from my youth have benefitted from not showcasing my parents’ marbled-effect, vivid blue, 60s Formica dining table and matching sideboard (probably worth a fortune now and gracing a Kensington apartment).

The kitchens appear roomier without the twin-tub and everything looks far more inviting bereft of the swirly 70s carpets and loud wallpaper that also decorated my school exercise books (I furtively spent my entire childhood coveting a roll of sticky-back plastic for at least 999 different uses). Tempted to indulge in my passion? Enjoy, but do be aware of any site which reveals a property’s current market value. It’s information that should come with a health warning!

 - Annette Cunningham