Since February 2017, I’ve been living back with my mum and dad. The whys and wherefores are less important for the purposes of this post (as is the fact that I haven’t got the time, energy, or inclination to rehash old ground); what’s important is that, when a chapter in my life ended, I had the opportunity to move back into a safe, secure place with people who cared about me and who, despite knowing me very well, were still willing to accept me into the routine of their quiet, calm, orderly lives.
It’s been a productive year, allowing me the chance to change careers, publish a book, and write a couple more, as well as recharge my batteries after a stressful and emotionally draining 2015 / 2016. However, come December 2017, I became aware that the time was right for me to return to what had become normal for the eleven years prior to my move; living independently and savouring the relationship with my parents which that independence brought with it. They gave me the safe haven to get to that conclusion in my own time, and now it’s arrived.
So flat hunting I go, and when I do something, I want to go all in. I’ve never been one to do things by halves, and I’ve not always been one to think about something for an age before doing it. When I know the time is right, I resolve to act, and so I began looking at potential places to rent in my local area.
I’ve spent the entirety of my life living between Broadstairs and Ramsgate, two rather lovely towns, and their suburbs. I’m rather privileged at being able to choose between different areas, and knowing which parts of my district I don’t want to live in. I’ve always had it in my head that I would move back to Broadstairs, where I came from, but a significant number of friends who I see regularly now live in Ramsgate, and have somewhat settled there. I therefore need to be flexible, I suspect; given that I can be stubborn and fixated on an idea when it suits me (and sometimes when it doesn’t), that’s something I need to work on.
I went to look at a flat today in Broadstairs; one that seemed almost too good to be true. When I told my mum, she agreed; it did seem too good to be true, but agreed that it was worth a look at any rate.
It was certainly an experience, let me put it like that. I like to think that I’m very open-minded to how different people live, and know that communal flat areas are going to be of a variety of standards, but when you come across a communal area – the minute you open a door – that smells damp, has a bike dumped in it at such an angle that you need to be an acrobat in order to avoid being caught in its spokes, and enough dumped mail to keep a fire burning for three months, I begin to wonder whether or not I’m being set up by candid camera.
The fact that it was a top floor flat didn’t worry me that much – the views from the flat more than made up for the stairs – but I was rather appalled by the state of all the communal areas. The doors to each flat looked like they belonged to an office block, and each flight of stairs, each handrail, and each carpet needed a damn good clean. The agent showing me round didn’t seem in the slightest bit bothered or affected by the cleanliness – well, I suppose he doesn’t have to live there – but when I found out that he was the manager of the agency and that the agency owned the properties directly, I rather found myself wishing that he’d taken at least a little bit of pride in what the building looked like.
The actual flat itself was fine – and the views were very nice – but … Oh dear. The previous tenants, I found out, had moved out three days ago; it was clear that no-one had come in since to clean or even to hoover, which surely is basic common sense. And common decency. The front room was a decent size, and the kitchen and bathroom weren’t bad, but the storage for the bedrooms was an inbuilt wardrobe … in the living room. That was something I struggled to understand, and the agent just shrugged in annoyance when I questioned it.
Oh yes, the agent. He clearly didn’t want to be there, and admitted as much when he said that he was heading straight home after this viewing. He had somewhere better he clearly wanted to be, and looked bored, irritated, and disengaged all in the same moment. Given that he was the manager of the estate agency’s Broadstairs office, I was rather surprised at the attitude, and I get very irritated when someone tries to deal with me in that off-ish, rude manner; I simply can’t stand that kind of attitude, and I find myself retorting in kind. So retort I did, matching his passive-aggressive stance with my own, and began to enjoy myself immensely.
I pointed out the smell in the communal area, and that the actual flat hadn’t been cleaned to make it presentable to prospective tenants. His expression and demeanor didn’t change, and that confirmed one simple fact for me; I wasn’t interested in the flat anyway, given that it smelled and had an odd layout, but given that he would be my landlord reinforced my decision to turn it down.
Oh well, it was worth looking; sometimes, things really are too good to be true.