Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We learn new things every day round here, and they're not always earthquake-related. I was on a quest the other day to understand a phobia I appear to have developed over the last 12 months... my instinctive, gut-level fear and mistrust of brick as a building material.
I wonder why?

While I was idly perusing the lists of phobias, I came across the word 'hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia' which, apparently, is the fear of long words. I kid you not - you can read the list yourself to check. I bet the person who coined that one is quietly sniggering to themselves, 'cos it's on a par with the words 'lisp' and 'phonetic' in terms of perversity...

So we went round some open homes on Saturday, to check out building companies, techniques, styles, trends... and salespeople. There were some of each of those categories that we liked, and others that did nothing for us. But we had some very productive discussions while we were out & about, and learnt some pretty useful things.

One of the first things we're probably going to have to confront is our preference for any kind of cladding that isn't brick. We'll have a limited budget which means making compromises on the things we can live with, and live without. It seems that one of the things we might have to live with is a brick cladding... if we're to satisfy our desire for a permanent material home with low/no maintenance, and come in under budget, then brick may turn out to be our best option.
My reaction to this sign has gone through some quite distinct phases... First it was a sign of commitment, a plan for the fix-ups that needed to happen. Shortly after it was unveiled however, it disappeared behind the cordon after February's quakes shook the city & threw everything around in such casually destructive fashion. My personal relationship with bricks took a distinct downturn at this point - if it was possible to sink any further, having already plummeted with the partial collapse of my home in September.

When I was a student (first time round) at CPIT many years ago, one of our tutors told us we'd have to learn how to 'deal with it and dump it', words that have stayed with me ever since. Shit happens - to everyone, everywhere, all the time - and if you can't leave it behind and move on then you'll never get anywhere at all. Out of interest though, I did wonder if anyone else had suffered from, or even labelled, this aversion to brick construction that I am now having to talk myself out of.

I found plenty of interesting and interestingly-named phobias, including the monstrosity mentioned earlier, but nothing about fear of a particular building material. There is the fear of being close to high buildings (batophobia), which I'm sure many locals can identify with; there is the fear of returning home (nostophobia); the fear of being in a house (domatophobia); and the fear of the colour red or blushing (erythro-, eryto- or ereuthophobia). So, after a bit of creative translation and playing with Latin (something I have no expertise in at all!), I'm going to kick things off with a few ideas.  Based around the Latin words for house (domus), brick (lateres), and constructing (extruendis), as well as a couple of existing phobias, here are some tentative names for this as-yet-unidentified phobia.

Fear of returning to a red brick home: Nostoerytolateresdomusophobia
Fear of building a home of red brick: Extruendiserytolateresdomusophobia
Fear of building a home of brick: Extruendislateresdomusophobia

Names have power - just ask Rumpelstiltskin - so perhaps this naming process is the first step towards our new, affordable home. Maybe, just maybe, I can learn to love brick again... or at least, learn to live with it.

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