Moving house is never fun. There’s the packing, the sorting, the endless application forms and fees. But when you’re all sorted and the ordeal is over it’s usually worth it.
…Unless you move into an old cottage on the top of a block of flats with no roof on it.
I don’t know what I’d been thinking when I’d arranged to take it. Maybe I hadn’t arranged it – I didn’t remember doing so. There was something unique and cool about having a whitewashed cottage with original beams five floors up on a modern building. And a little odd.
I was handed a two pronged key, much like a cattle prod, and the final paperwork. Then the estate agent left me to it, probably ecstatic some moron had finally taken the troublesome cottage off of his hands. I walked up the several flights of stairs and arrived at my new abode.
Inside was a little derelict to say the least. Beams hung broken from the ceiling, there were holes in the floorboards and a thick layer of dust lay over everything. But hey, it had character! And bonus, the windows were all in tact. The whole house may fall down around me, or even on me, but at least I had windows.
I began tidying and unpacking my things optimistically, and it was long into the evening before I finished. As I stopped moving around, I noticed it was getting much colder. There was a considerable draught, and as I looked in the direction of its source the afternoon’s optimism thoroughly dissipated.
There was a ruddy great hole in the roof.
And ‘hole’ is an understatement. There was more sky than roof in the main bedroom. And bedroom is hardly the word. There was a raised bit of floor I’d chucked my bedding over to make a sort of bunk bed. I lay down on it and looked up at the stars whilst I reevaluated my life choices.
There was a knock on the door – the front door of the cottage that led to a large drop into nothingness. I looked through the door pane to see my friend, Beryl. She was peering through, so I waved and let her in.
“Hiya!” she said in her usual chirpy manner. She held her handbag tight on her shoulder as she walked around my new home. The longer she looked, the more forced her smile became. It disappeared completely when she clapped eyes on the roof.
“Oh Claire,” she said, “what are you even doing here?”
“It’s not that bad,” I said, smiling. Karma chose that point to make the sky rumble and pour torrential rain onto my freshly made bed. I watched helplessly and shrugged as my life fell further apart. Beryl just stared awkwardly at it.
“Aaaand over there you can see the bedroom and shower. I’m saving space,” I said, trying to lighten the mood and stop myself from just breaking down and sobbing.
Beryl didn’t laugh. We were interrupted by the side door opening. One of the guys from the neighbouring flats walked in. I hadn’t realised they had such easy access to my cottage. The man glanced briefly at the watering splashing all of my possessions, then demanded my rent payment. I blinked blankly back at him, then asked who the hell he was.
Of course this tosspot had to be the landlord’s son. Beryl chose this convenient moment to make her farewells and disappear, and I’ve never seen her more happy to leave. The guy shoved an invoice in my hands which showed an amount far larger than the agreed rent.
“What’s this for?” I asked, gesturing to the extra figures.
“We’re having a camping party, he said. “Someone’s got to pay for it.”
Sure enough, through the open door I could see several tents and a camp fire set up in the corridor of the flats. Tenants in sleeping bags lay on the floor, watching us eagerly.
“Am I even invited?” I asked.
He chuckled in response. Took that as a no.
I handed him over the money in a slight how-did-my-life-get-to-this trance and he smirked and left me to it. They began playing loud music and laughing at my misfortune.
Well, I told myself. Could be worse…