Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Location, frustration, desperation


In case you haven’t checked of late, January is a particularly shite time of year to look for a room in a house you don’t own.

I can only assume that the people with the rooms are too busy with their new gym memberships and chowing down trashy celeb book bilge to bother with moving out so that I can move in.

This is most inconvenient, as although it means I’ll be free of those disconcerting flatmate bathroom noises (I swear several organs have been hacked up and choked back down by a certain perpetrator) it also means that my odds of finding another room that is a similar size, proximity and price are less than zero.

Initially I tried to be upbeat and embrace this unwelcome change; I could find somewhere further out, but in a real house with proper walls and less mould creeping in through the ceiling; I could get a bike and cycle to work rather than walk and everything will be rather lovely and better than before. Or at least sans the sinister drip drip drip of what I hope is just rainwater sneaking not so sneakily into my room whilst I pretend to sleep (and pretend not to notice).

Pickings are indeed slim; the first place I went to investigate was a squalid doss house deal, with eight rooms (each door unlovingly adorned with its respective number, perhaps in case someone lost count) holding more than eight bodies, all of whom were sharing one shower room and one almost-kitchen. I wasn’t allowed to look in the place where the toilet/shower lurked, but was able to smell one of them from afar. To add to the allure, the kitchen bin had two times the volume of rubbish stacked on top of it than its feeble frame could swallow. So far, so shabby.

It would appear that my options are either to accept my limitations and live somewhere appropriately scummy, or pay more than I can afford to live in a house share that shares its facilities with no more than four other not-students.

In a sorrowful bid to save some precious pennies I could crank the Weetabix Week up to a dazzling new level and eat those delightful little wheaten bricks for breakfast and dinner. Maybe they could sponsor me ...

“After chatting to the nicest landlady humanity has crafted since maybe the dawn of houses, time and teapots, I left an hour or so later with somewhere to live ...”

And yet – Friday’s turn of events left me completely flummoxed. After a mildly grim working week (you know the sort; lots of dark, dark thoughts) I crawled towards the end of my day broken, bruised and not tremendously thrilled at the prospect of traipsing into the unknown to see another hideous non-house. Oddly enough, my non-fortune took a something of a u-turn.

First, the required bus arrived just as I got to the stop, enabling me to hop on, enjoy the luxury of a seat all to myself before arriving somewhere near the street I needed to locate. A few minutes later I found myself being welcomed into a warm, cosy, and remarkably lovely house.

I was invited to sit down on what is now my favourite chair and served proper teapot tea (saucers, biscuits; the works). After chatting to the nicest landlady humanity has crafted since maybe the dawn of houses, time and teapots, I left an hour or so later with somewhere to live that bears more than a passing resemblance to a proper home and – all the more remarkably - within my shamefully humble budget. These things are not meant to happen.

It didn’t end there. As part of some possibly ominous karmathon, the next bus driver took me back to the stop I’d missed in my ignorance, and the second one let me on for free when my Oyster maxed out.

Why is the world suddenly making space for me? I’m not going to question it. Regardless of what the karma gods have stacked up to later balance out this clot of everything sliding into a more gleeful place than before (something from the harrowing second act of Last Exit From Brooklyn perhaps?) I’m going to enjoy it whilst it lasts. The former, rather than the latter, in case you were about to make a rather damning judgement.

I have been pulled back from the edge. Maybe Spiderman was right; everybody gets one.

The only downside (other than my inevitable grisly comeuppance) is that I’ll probably never figure out what ungodly acts warrant the bizarre bathroom soundtrack that without fail wake me up every night. I could just ask the performer directly, but that would be too easy. I think it best to wait until after they return my deposit before demanding answers as regards their gruesome after-hours rituals. That, my pretties, is the glory of foresight. Methinks it wise to develop this skill further.

Next week, we can look forward to either: How It Was All Just A Dream – or – Karma Kicks Back: why one should never type the words ‘Homerton’, ‘crime’ and ‘spree’ into Google if you are keen to avoid The Fear. Answers are not required on a postcard. Mace, doilies and matches can be sent in any combination to an address of your choice. Read more by Sam.