Thursday, October 30, 2008

HAPPY VOODOO...


I've been meaning to post about this house for a while now. There have been art student films made about it and it was even used in a shoot for Vogue Korea, which reached the chicest corners of the interwebs.


{Lonely Birthday - Vogue Korea - Photographer: Louis Park}


I've known this house for a long time and it's one of those places that's passed into local folklore due to its somewhat eccentric appearance.

It's generally known as the voodoo house or crazy voodoo house and over the years, many rumours have surrounded it. You can't tell just how big it is from the pictures but it's an enormous, rambling Victorian villa on a corner plot. People say it's owned by the council and that they're letting it crumble so that when the elderly Jamaican man who resides there is gone, they can knock it down and build yet another ugly block of cheap flats in its place. Also well reported is that the man who lives there is crazy and stands on his porch all day shouting at passers by - and I'm pretty sure I've perpetuated that story myself.

However; whenever I've passed the house on foot I've noticed the beautiful, well kept rose bushes in the garden and pots of geraniums on the steps. The planks of the broken down old fence have been repaired and there's a new garage next to the burnt out one. Some windows have holes, it looks like where people have thrown stones, the paint isn't perfectly applied and the colour scheme is definitely not to everyone's taste. Some people think of it as an eyesore, some think of it as a landmark. It's creepy and cheerful at the same time.

In honour of Halloween approaching I decided to pay the spooky house a visit on a blindingly sunny and cold morning.

When I got there I started snapping away at the garden and exterior of the house. You can find photos of it on Flickr and elsewhere but I wanted to show the garden. Frankly, I wasn't bold enough to go and ring on the doorbell to ask permission; but since it's not at all unusual to see people taking photos of it I felt it was ok.

Then I saw movement in the garden and my heart skipped a beat. It was a little like when you're a kid and your imagination is in overdrive making up stories about people in the neighborhood - for example, when I was a wee tot there was a lady in the neighbourhood who worked for Superdrug (like a cheaper version of Boots The Chemist) and my little friends and I thought that meant she was a drug dealer and ran away terrified every time we saw her.

Thankfully I am now an adult and he looked so sweet pottering around the garden that I walked around (still outside the fence) and said hello. At this point I had no idea of the reaction I would get and he was holding a fairly sharp garden fork. And guess what?

He was the sweetest man ever. We had a little chat and I told him I'd seen his house in a magazine and he said, oh yes it's been in magazines all over the world. Emboldened by his response I asked if I could take his picture because his yellow trousers the same colour as the masonry were just too fabulous not to record. I kept saying back a bit, back a bit so I could get his trousers in...


{photo by me}
So there you go. I forgot to ask his name but I'm glad I was able to debunk a myth and next time someone Googles the "The House on Loampit Hill" or "Voodoo House", hopefully this post will come up to balance out all the 'crazy voodoo' talk. It makes me so happy that there are houses like this and so many interesting characters like this around here. Sigh, I'm so in love with the 'hood.

*EDIT* Since I wrote this, in the interests of honesty I must admit I have seen my friend apparently ranting uncontrollably at passersby quite a few times. So I wouldn't just bowl up to the front door and invite yourself in for tea if he's having a bad day.

17 comments:

miss milki said...

Thats such a cool story! And he looks like a very nice man.

Alix said...

Thank you so much for this article! It is so interesting to know stories about it.

And now that I know how sweet is the man who lives in this house, I love it even more !

Rose said...

I really LOVED this story. He has such a kind and interesting face.

I think it's lovely you took a picture of him and debunked the myth. It in fact looks like he couldn't be sweeter and is very far from scary. Why shouldn't he have a colourful crazy house if he wants!

I think the fact that you noticed how well cared for the flowers were where other people have been keen to see the negative says a lot for you.

l'embrouillamini said...

Aww that story has made my day :)

Kate said...

Beautiful house. I looked it up on a map and found that it's right around the corner of my (only) friend in London who lives on Albyn Road. Small world. :-)

Juliet said...

This must be the sweetest Halloween story ever.

juliet xxx

thesearchforchic said...

Wonderful story...how sweet does he look? Awww.. <3

Anonymous said...

This story is so beautiful. A perfect halloween story, and sweet too because it brought me back to the days where I was a "wee tot" :) myself and used to be terrified of an old lady (I guess every child has some terrifying old lady to be scared of)living at the end of our street in a decrepit old little house.
Thank you Lola, and next time you see him, say hello from all of us! :)
xxx
Mia

July Stars said...

Oh my God, one of my best friends lives very near to this house and we have been speculating about its inhabitants for nearly three years now! I won't tell you all the stories we've come up with because it could fill a book... Does the lovely gentleman own the house? Did you get to take a peak inside the property? I'm email her a link to your pics immediately. Spooky halloween ...

Lola Is Beauty said...

So glad you all enjoyed it - I thought it might only be interesting to me! I found out today that he's known as Mr Rose (coincidentally Rose!) but I don't know if that's his real name or because of the rose bushes he tends... I think the house is council owned but he lives there alone now. If you follow the links to the blog posts about the Vogue Korea shoot you can see the inside but I don't know how much of it's down to prop styling...

Vain and Vapid said...

This is the coolest post... I loved the editorial in Vogue Korea and it's great to see the real owner. He looks like a real character & seems to suit the house perfectly....

SeƱora Capone said...

You have to go back again and ask him more about the house, see if he has any lovely stories to tell.

Alice said...

oh so sweet ! :)

chloe said...

what a lovely post :) im totally googling the house now! and that is indeed a great pair of trousers! x

Baby Says Boutique said...

This is brilliant! I new one of the images, which Duskin NY blog spotted from my Blog and then I saw the story behind this!

Where abouts is this house? I must visit!

Amy
BSB

Danette said...

You are so sweet.

Panos Kallos said...
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