Table of Contents
- Where and when did you buy your first home?
- How did you find it?
- Was it love at first sight?
- What condition was it in?
- You once got rid of your bed to house pinball machines – did you apply the same use of space to your first home?
- What did you do in terms of interior design?
- So you didn’t sell?
- What did buying teach you?
- What is your advice for first-time buyers?
- Did anything go wrong for you in the whole buying process?
- How has your home layout changed much then during Covid?
- You can only have one: dream home or dream pinball machine?
- How to get your Metro newspaper fix
Geoff is such a fan of pinball machines, he’s filled his flat with them (Picture: David Pickens)
Geoff Harvey, aka Pinball Geoff on BBC One’s The Repair Shop, once got hold of ten pinball machines for free as a teenager while his parents were away.
When they got home, Geoff was asked to stash them in his room – and he ended up throwing away his bed and furniture and sleeping under the machines.
These days, Geoff lives in ‘delightful’ Stoke Newington but the love of pinball is still as strong as ever, with a collection of 150 machines and a thriving business, Pinball Alley.
Geoff also actively volunteers for mental health charity The Listening Place, which provides one-to-one support for those who feel life is no longer worth living.
Where and when did you buy your first home?
In glorious Stoke Newington back in 1993, having lived in this diverse area for about five years previously.
How did you find it?
A woman called Fran was after a pinball machine for her The Who-obsessed husband Dave and I found them a 1970s Captain Fantastic based on the film Tommy. As she was so delightful I went out of my way to help them.
They were kind, generous souls and having both worked in the corporate banking market, very different from my own life experiences.
One day they asked why I had never thought of buying a property and I explained that I was – and still am – awful with money.
They said that they may be able to help and showed me the flat that I live in now,
which was in a bit of a state but has a lovely cobbled yard. It was built, according to the plaque, in 1890 as homes for the railway workers.
Was it love at first sight?
I loved the vibe immediately and then found they had bought it in an auction for £24,800 and I could have it for the same. To quote my bank manager at the time: ‘I will even give a mortgage to you Geoff’. And I have been fabulously happy here ever since.
What condition was it in?
When I moved in it was in poor shape and dull, beige and non-descript, but I had some ideas and realised that you can do anything with a space.
You once got rid of your bed to house pinball machines – did you apply the same use of space to your first home?
My childhood bedroom was very psychedelic and when I discovered pinball, when I was 13 or 14, very full. My parents arrived home after a jaunt away to find access difficult as I had filled the family home with my new four-legged friends.
They said, ‘Geoffrey, you can have as many as you like but they must be in your room’. That seemed deeply unfair at the time but – in retrospect – is inordinately reasonable. To accommodate the pinball machines I dispensed with anything unnecessary – such as furniture, including the bed – and I slept happily underneath them for many years.
My present bed is on stilts and I sleep very near the ceiling, which is reminiscent of being under a pinball machine.
What did you do in terms of interior design?
It went from dull and beige to mostly black, but I added glitter – which
gave it a strange feeling of size, unexpectedly. One ceiling is clouds and sky and I have semi-themed rooms.
It is a small two-bedroom flat and I have one room, which is robot-based, one which was meant to be Vegas-like, a green office and a bathroom that was going to be ghost train but ended up more goth.
So you didn’t sell?
I love being here and the market value has never interested me as I hope to live here forever… given the reality of mortal existence, of course.
What did buying teach you?
I learnt that having a stable home and somewhere that myself and my various cats and partners can feel settled and happy is a wonderful source of creativity, stability and security.
I really look forward to going home, feeding the cats, cooking, listening to Radio 4 or playing my 1950s jukebox. It is a base from which to explore the world from – or to hide, too, at times.
What is your advice for first-time buyers?
I would advise someone to look for somewhere they will feel content rather than as an investment and not be put off by size or decor, as one can do loads with a smallish space. One is only limited by the boundaries of the imagination.
Did anything go wrong for you in the whole buying process?
My purchase went through bizarrely easily and so straightforward I am
How has your home layout changed much then during Covid?
My home is a bit full and messy post-Covid, but was such a lovely base for me during this turbulent time. Much of it has remained the same, with a few bits of work in progress.
You can only have one: dream home or dream pinball machine?
Dream home. Where I am but with infinite space to fill it with dream pinball machines. All pinball machines seem magical and exciting to me, despite having more than 150. They are just like friends – one can never have too many.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch at [email protected].