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The Tenement House

The inhabitants of this small tenement will be selected from -

In residence:

Davie Hamilton - music student. Plays the piano, violin and a wind instrument, and probably also a recorder. Very friendly with Morag Cameron of the Farmhouse, and has one or two of her landscapes on his wall. His grant is barely sufficient to support him; he earns a supplement to his income by playing the piano in a pub on Friday and Saturday nights, and with a couple of friends also sometimes busks or does gigs for parties. His (let, furnished) flat is furnished with the bare essentials - table, couple of hard chairs, two old armchairs, a sideboard, an electric fire. He has added a small bookcase and has a music stand and a varied selection of sheet music, and maybe a pot plant Morag has given him. Mrs Low keeps a maternal eye on Davie, and often acts as "audience" when he is practising, especially something he has composed himself; if she feels something does not sound right, she will tell him, and, knowing her background as an amateur singer, he appreciates her advice.

Roger Brooks - an elderly bachelor, living alone since his invalid mother died. He had chosen not to marry in order to look after his mother, and now is feeling rather lonely and not very sure what to do with his life. He collects stamps, a hobby he took up more because he could follow it while keeping his mother company than because he was really interested, and inertia keeps him following it spasmodically. Every now and then he thinks of selling his collection and starting something new, but he can't really summon up the energy to do anything about it. Basically he is tired; he needs a holiday and a complete change of scenery, but a holiday is the last thing he wants, because it would involve making a decision, and after many years of making decisions for his mother he doesn't want the responsibility. The house is furnished comfortably, but nothing in it is new - again, to buy anything new would involve making a decision. He inherited the house from his mother.

Jane and Arthur Wallace - newly married, their house is relatively sparsely furnished; they didn't want to start their married life in too much debt, so they bought only essentials for the house they are buying. There are however a few nicknacks around the place, gifts from both mothers and Jane's older (unmarried) sister Donna. They hope to buy a bigger house in a year or two, and to that end both are working; they have decided to put off having children for a few years.

Wilma Low - a widow whose husband died many years ago, she has a very limited income; she never worked after she married, but she was a keen amateur singer in her younger days and was a member of an amateur operatic society for many years, giving it up only when her voice began to fail. Like Roger, her furniture is of good quality but old, a bit worn. Two of her three children visit her as often as possible, but the third, her son Jack, is in the navy and still has several years of his enlistment to serve. She has some ornaments Jack has brought home over the years. She keeps a maternal eye on Davie, and often acts as "audience" when he is practising, especially something he has composed himself; if she feels something does not sound right, she will tell him. Her flat was rented unfurnished.

In residence:

Mr & Mrs Chang - Refugees from Communist China, they reached Britain, officially they came on holiday, with nothing except one suitcase and what little money they could smuggle out of China. They got away just before Mr Chang's family was arrested for "subversive activities" (his younger brother was killed in Tiannanamen Square) and on discovering what had happened to his family, he asked for political asylum. This has been granted, but life is not easy for them. They both work in a Chinese restaurant, which involves long hours at not very high pay; Mr Chang is studying and hopes to go to university in another year or two while Mrs Chang continues to work to support them. Although they are in a furnished flat, they have bought some pseudo-Chinese furniture and hangings as they are both very homesick, but they know that unless the Chinese government has a change of heart, they will never return.

Frank Reynolds & Bill Ransome - Two young men who share a flat. Their neighbours are not sure whether or not they are gay, but accept them both as "very nice young men". Both up and coming professionals, they (like the Wallaces) plan to move to better accommodation in a few years. Meanwhile, they are buying good quality antique furniture, etc, as their joint income will support this "extravagance". The flat is theirs, fully paid for.

Miss Simpson - a retired schoolteacher; if she ever had a first name she has used it so seldom over the years that she appears to have forgotten it. Although not miserly, she is careful with her money and lives a simple but comfortable life. This allows her to spend at least a month every year travelling abroad, and her small house contains many souvenirs of those holidays. Her usually brusque, matter-of-fact manner disguises a compassionate nature, and everyone in the building knows that if they have a problem, she is the best person to approach concerning it. She does not wholly approve of the way in which Davie Hamilton earns extra money, but does approve of his initiative in using his talents for this purpose. She is buying her flat.

Audrey Brown - In her early 20s, she moved into the area some months previously to start work. Very shy, she has little social life; she sews a lot, and has two cats. She and Jane Wallace sometimes go together for their groceries, but so far she has not presumed on the relationship. Her work does pay well, but she seems plagued with insecurity and spends as little as she can. From what little she has said to Janet Wallace, her father is dead, her mother remarried and she does not get on with her stepfather; she seems to have lost contact with them, and appears to be bent on making her own way in life. She is buying her flat.

Dr and Mrs Sitchi - He is a fully qualified doctor who qualified in Calcutta and has come to Britain to improve his surgical qualifications. Eventually he hopes to return to India, with a view to improving health care in his native town; but a so-far unacknowledged ambition might very well lead him to applying for a senior post in Calcutta itself; meanwhile he has bought his flat as he does not know how long he will remain in Britain. Mrs Sitchi has even less of a social life than Audrey Brown, devoting her days to housework, sewing and cook

Larry Gordon - a freelance writer and photographer, he makes a precarious living selling illustrated articles to periodicals. He hopes that one day his undoubted talents (especially with the camera) will be rewarded by magazine editors contacting him with commissions, but for the moment he has as many rejections as acceptances for his work. Like Davie Hamilton, he has rented a furnished flat.