It has been sometime since I wrote anything journal wise…
My apologies to those who have expressed interest in my musings and random thoughts. There are a few reasons for my absence. Firstly I have been channelling all my thoughts and energies into a few writing competitions. I don’t expect to get anywhere but I do enjoy the challenge. Secondly, I have recently moved house. I now live in a place called Stradbroke. A quaint little village nestled in the depths of mid Suffolk. My new home could not be more different from my old hell hole of a flat. I don’t believe I have ever spoken of my flat before so for those of you who have never experienced the joys of living in a flat I shall digress briefly.
Two years ago Jemma and I were looking for own place together. We knew that a flat was going to represent the most cost effective solution. Fortunately for us a colleague of ours at the ambulance station provided a most attractive offer. He was a bit of a property mogul and had a recently purchased a brand new flat on the centre of town. Now he was looking to rent it out and so I sought him out one day at work. To cut a long story short we agreed to an initial six month tenancy agreement on an ‘all in’ basis. That is to say that we paid him one sum a month inclusive of bills. Not too shabby.
Like any young couple we were thrilled to be moving into our own place. As I said it was all brand spanking new. The master bedroom even had an en suite. Jemma being a farm girl didn’t know what an en suite was so she was most thrilled when she found out. We had a lot of help from family when moving in day arrived. I had been unable to secure sufficient time off so this was a most welcome solution. Jemma and I worked long into the evening unpacking all our things and placing them around the flat. Eventually we finished and admired our new home. I have to say it looked lovely initially. The entrance/hallway had our computer desk in. Straight ahead was the bathroom which was also fitted with a power shower. To the left of the bathroom was the master bedroom. To the right of the bathroom was a spare bedroom with a a second double bed in it. The lounge was located just before the master bedroom. The lounge itself was essentially one big room. The kitchen was at one end, the television at the other. I have never really been a fan of open plan living. I need clear distinct bounderies as I feel it gives a better illusion of space and therefore appears less cluttered. Jemma wasn’t a fan of this one big room either. Together we decided that by strategically placing the sofas in the middle of the room it would create the illusion of two separate living areas. It worked quite well I have to say and we were once again pleased with our new home.
Things were not to remain quite so pleasant though. On the very first night a problem made itself known that drove a spear of stress though our new life. The problem was that the flat was situated on the first floor over looking a very busy main road. This meant that once the tv and or radio was off and you put your head down to rest for the night the ambient noise made itself known. The noise of traffic was so incredibly loud I was convinced that there was a window open. A quick inspection however proved that the window was in fact closed tightly shut. Yet the noise, which was so loud I felt as though my head were laying on the curb outside, permeated straight through the closed windows as though they were not even there. Those windows remain to this day singularly the cheapest and most crappy windows I have ever laid eyes on. I was however to discover other horrors that made this pale in comparison but I’ll get to that shortly. So imagine if you will, you climbing into your new bed, in your new home next to your loving partner who is as excited as you are about having your own space. Now imagine laying there for a few moments letting that dreadful ambiance penetrate your skull and drive all over your brain. You turn to look at each other with a bemused expression that quickly becomes one of ‘oh fuck!’. I remember that moment well, when we both acknowledged this dire situation. We tried to sleep but it wasn’t going to happen. It was just too damn loud. In the end we retreated into the spare room. This room overlooked the car park. It wasn’t as loud as the master bedroom but it wasn’t far behind either. I lay there thinking how the hell I had not considered this problem before. The answer I could come up with was that we had viewed the place with those damned evil rose tinted glasses. We hadn’t been looking for problems but a solution. Then of course all the moving and unpacking had kept our minds occupied and we hadn’t really noticed the traffic. Perhaps most telling though and most to blame was our combined lack of experience. I can you now that the things I am looking at when I view a property these days are from an entirely different list to one I had used to view this flat, which simply had one entry on it… ‘Rent own space with Jemma’. They say ignorance is bliss. True I say. True until that ignorance becomes stark realisation of the truth at which point it kicks you heartily in the crotch.
It took us some weeks to get used to that noise. We did eventually. You have to or you’d go mad. Other things were starting to emerge however over the next few weeks that would change my opinion of living in a flat forever. I can think of two major things in particular. One annoying, and one downright dangerous. The annoying one was the temperature. Over the two years we stayed in that oven we never once had to turn the heating on. There was simply no need. Summer was hell. You’d get home from wherever you’d been and no sooner had you opened the front door you’d physically repelled by a wall of humidity. You couldn’t do anything in the flat which required any degree of effort else your clothes would slide of your sweating body and you’d dehydrate quicker than you could fry an egg. “God damn its hot in here. What’s that you say? Open a window? Well I could do that, but then that will let the full fury of the noise from outside in. If I do that, yes we might be a little cooler but you can forget conversation or watching the tele.” Happy days.
The other major problem we had was the fact that the entire building had been built to the very cheapest specification. Sure when its brand new it looks the business but you just wait and the cracks will start to show. What cracks they are too. On this one occasion the flat above us developed a leak from their en suite toilets cistern. It was only a very small leak but it was to have near disastrous consequences. I had just got up and was just about to get washed. I walked into the bathroom and reached for the pull cord that would turn the light on. It felt strange though. Then to my horror I realised it was soaking wet. Further inspection revealed droplets of water leaking out through the fitting on the ceiling. This doesn’t look good I thought. I immediately went on a hunt for other signs of a leak. What I found made me quite panicky I have to say. In the hallway a section of the ceiling was covered in droplets of water and to make matters worse it was actually bowing outwards as though it was holding up some huge weight. Quick as a flash I rang the the company that built the building and is contracted to maintain it for the next five years. To their credit they had a plumber out to me under an hour. He walked in with his apprentice laughing and joking about some young lady the I presume the apprentice had been seeing. I was standing anxiously in the hallway pointing at the ceiling. The plumber took one look at the ceiling and snapped into pro mode. “Oh Shit,” he said. He then placed a bowl on the floor and to my surprise simply took a screwdriver from his belt and punched it up through the ceiling. A small lake then emptied out with a gush, filling the bowl twice over. He was a really nice bloke if lacking in more eloquent vocabulary. He told me how he would never ever buy one of these flats. “They are all made of stud partitions and plaster board you see. One more day boy and I reckon that would have been your fuckin whole ceiling mate. Still you wouldn’t have know fuck’all bout it cause you would likely fried yourself first in the bathroom had you turned that light on.”
To this day I am not sure whether or not I was in any real danger of death. I do however firmly believe that had I owed that flat, the cost of repair would have been near crippling.
So, I will never again own a flat. Especially not one of these ones that a springing up all over the place at the moment. The are so cheaply built and a real stress to live in that I think I’d rather live in my car. Honest to God truth.
I have disgressed enough for now I think. I was planning to write about my new house and how lovely it is out here but I am tired now and have another of those competitions to plan for.