All 22 entries tagged House
July 01, 2006
I'm not used to living in a room with nothing on the walls. Apart from the blutac stains (please still give me my deposit back, Mr Landlord…), all my posters, cards and odds and ends of material and fairy lights are now all sitting in bags in the spare room, probably causing some sort of health and safety hazard. It's all very odd.
And to add to that, now that there's no wistful Pre–Raphaelite women and pretty cityscapes to distract my attention, I've been forced to contemplate just how weird the colour of my walls actually is. I'm sure they weren't like that before. I'm positive they were a lovely shade of cream, not the colour of goopy mustard.
I'm also sure my typing never used to sound so loud and echoey and ghostly, and my floorboards didn't used to creak in such an ominous way. And just now, my wardrobe door mysteriously swung open, for no good reason, in a way I've never seen it do before. I'm waiting for the lightbulb to flicker, my candle to gutter, and strange shadows to be thrown across the wall. I have this feeling this could all go horribly Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and tomorrow will see me being carted out of the house in one of those complicated straitjacket things and sent off to a Victorian madhouse.
Having said that, it's nice to think of this room as haunted by objects past. I like to think, when I leave tomorrow, I'll leave a little of me in this room (not counting the blutac stains). It's been a wonderful final year, in a wonderful house, with wonderful housemates and wonderful friends, and I couldn't have asked for more.
Hmm. I was going to actually write something about how I can't break the habit of carrying my university card around with me, despite the fact that is is now merely a useless piece of plastic with a really bad photo of me being eighteen and trying and failing to look pretty (because I was a hopeless, if hopeful, teenager) but I think this entry has descended so far into mush that there's no hope for it now.
But if ever a moment was deserving of mush, this is probably it. Thank you to everyone who has made this year what it was. I'm going to miss you all so much.
June 28, 2006
The Cupboard of Doom
Nobody mentioned, when we signed the house lease, that we would have a fifth housemate waiting for us. Or more specifically, waiting for me, on the night I moved in before everyone else. My mother had left me, night had fallen, and it was only then, on my own, in the dark, that I saw there was a curious door under the stairs, and decided that obviously, on my own, in the dark, it was a good idea to investigate said door. So, I pulled it gaily open, only to be confronted by a dismembered doll head splattered with a red substance gleaming evilly in the electric light.
That, readers, was, and continues to be the Barbie Head Of Doom. She sits in the window in the cupboard under the stairs, and we like to think of her as our house guardian for scaring burglars and disconcerting our house guests, kind of like a bull mastiff but pinker and more smiley. And after my first shock, I have come to feel more affectionate towards her, and will actually be sorry to bid her adieu.
My desk is beautiful. No really, it is. It's made of real wood and everything, and has beautiful slidey drawers and a lovely solid polished top. And to think it almost wasn't mine.
You see, when we moved in, my room almost had it all. Almost. There was a bed, bookcase, dressing table and wardrobe, but no desk. And even though I tend to do most of my studying, such as it is, in/on bed, I felt I needed a surface on which to stack the books I hadn't read and to write the to do lists of things I would never actually do. So when the landlord came over, I sheepishly asked him if I could have a desk, and moreover, if he could possibly find me a desk that would fit in the niche I'd left for it.
Surprisingly, he smiled and nodded, and said 'Of course. You've made it look really nice in here – it would be a shame to have to mess it up." This was on the night he came round at 9pm with his toolbox and also rehung a door, fixed the toilet lock, and brought a new mattress for my housemate. And at 3pm the next day, he pulled up in his car with my lovely solid wood desk that fitted perfectly in the space. We love Spa Estates. Anyone looking for South Leam houses next year, go to Spa. They are lovely lovely people, and deserve your business.
Our living room ceiling
Our living room isn't really a room, as such. It only really has one wall, which is the exterior wall of our house, and which also includes our kitchen window and the sliding glass door leading to Steve's room. The other three walls are plastic conservatory windows, and as for the roof… well, it's a beautiful construction of corrugated translucent plastic.There's also a small paint–splattered basin, and a mains drainage cover which you can have hours of fun bouncing up and down on. It's surprising how quickly you get used to it, and also how useful the kitchen window is as a service hatch.
Spongebob the toilet
When you flush our downstairs toilet, it sounds like Spongebob Squarepants. That is, if you can get it to flush without sticking your hand inside the tank and tugging at random bits of the mechanism. It is also decorated with some interesting mould patterns on the walls, and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including the famous biting spider discovered by Layla, and several families of woodlice. It's like Nature Corner. We're probably doing our bit for several endangered insect species, and probably creating a few exciting mutant ones as well.
The inexplicable hole in my ceiling
There has been speculation, there have been theories. There has even been brief and fruitless investigation. All that can be ascertained is that it is there, and it is now forever inexplicable.
Steve has a window that is not so much a window as a sliding door leading to the living room. It's quite useful as an escape route for situations when unexpected guests arrive and we're caught in the living room in pyjamas and no makeup. And in most situations, instead of cowering behind the freezer as happened on one notable occasion, we can slip silently through Steve's room and hightail it up the stairs before anyone is the wiser. Cowering behind the freezer is only useful as a last resort, and if the unexpected guest is a certain boy, it's fairly fruitless, as he will chase after you. You have been warned.
The Stairs of Intellect
Every intelligent discussion we've ever had in this house has been conducted on the stairs. Despite having four nice bedrooms and a well–appointed living room, we will still gather on the stairs. Jess sits at the top, Layla near the bottom, and I favour the turn of the stairs, as I can curl up in a corner and nod sagely. If all discussions about world politics and religion happened on a flight of stairs, I'm sure the world would be a better place for it.
Our garden is a carport, a mysterious shed, and two fruit trees. These two trees have gradually been trying to take over the house and have had to be restrained at various points over the year by rakes, brooms, and an elderly washing line. They did, however, also provide edible apples and pears and pretty pink and white blossom, so we don't hold their transgressions against them.
The ladies' bicycles
Should you ever feel like having a famous five moment in this house, fear not. We have the materials for such a jolly jape. Two lovely old ladies' bicycles, with bells that go triiiing and baskets on the handlebars. You can stow your luncheon meat and ginger beer safely away and go trolling out through the streets of South Leam in style. We have been tempted. Very tempted. What larks, eh, what larks.
The assorted nails in the picture rails
We've put them to many uses. I have a fluffy white feathered fairylit halo hanging above my bed. Layla hangs a handbag from one of hers wedged into the wall at a convenient height. And Steve wins the prize for most innovative with a halfsize guitar dangling merrily from one in his room. We know how to make the most of what we've got in this house, that we do.
Goodbye and thank you house. You have done us proud. We'll not be forgetting you.
May 18, 2006
I have a problem. There is a banana festering somewhere in my room, and I'm not sure where. I picked it out of the fruit bowl this morning because it was getting to the stage where the browny black bits were starting to outweigh the yellow, meaning to eat it for breakfast. However, after a few choice diversions including Facebook, frozen milk, spiders in the hallway and fixing my umbrella, breakfast and the banana were both forgotten. Until now, and now I can't find said banana. I have no recollection of where I might have put it down. All I know is that it is lurking somewhere, probably in my room, and probably slowly rotting as I speak.
I would quite like to eat this banana. But if I don't find it within the next few hours or so, it will have gone beyond the point where it would be decent to eat it, and much as I loathe throwing food away, I think the only place for the banana will be the bin. And even worse, if I don't find it soon, I may wake up tomorrow morning with a funny smell in the room, and find the mangled corpse of my formerly yellow friend stuffed in a desk drawer or concealed under the bed.
The fact that I don't know where it's gone is starting to bother me more than a little bit. Not least because I seem to be losing my memory, which I thought only happened once you'd had children. It won't be long before I start forgetting conversations that happened yesterday, and trailing off in the middle of sentences, and sounding even more like my mother than I do already.
On the upside, any day that contains Sigur Ros, thunderstorms, red wine and rainbows can't be bad. And even if my memory gets worse, I do have a digital camera to remind me of things like this:
Right. Now all I have to do is find that bloody banana…
April 22, 2006
Today marked Shakespeare's birthday weeked and also the beginning of the RSC's Complete Works Festival. And being so dedicated to their subject (ahem), what could two Lit students do but stop working and hightail it straight to Stratford?
The day was completely unplanned. So unplanned that they looked at the grey sky that morning and almost didn't go. However, when Lizzie worked out there was a Stratford bus in ten minutes, the two of them gained enough momentum to propel themselves out to the bus stop, in the company of two crazy men and their dog.
12.14pm: Bus pulls up.
12.15pm: Lizzie and Layla get on bus. Layla asks if bus goes to Stratford. Bus driver ascertains that yes, bus does go to Stratford. Lizzie and Layla find seat.
12.16pm: Two crazy men unleash dog on bus whilst they argue with the driver about how many dogs are actually on said bus.
12.17pm: Said dog scampers wildly about whilst old people mutter. Crazy Man no. 1 tries to pay whilst Crazy Man no.2 complicates issue by ranting on about how he has six dogs.
12.18pm: Compromise reached. Crazy men and dog and tickets are stowed away at the back of bus and bus pulls away.
12.27pm: Bus drives through housing estate where all the street names are Shakespearean. Othello Way, Petruchio Place, and Banquo Approach etc. Obviously good way for Layla and Lizzie to refresh their Shakespeare knowledge. Crazy men refresh their knowledge of swear words whilst cursing at the driver for going over speed bumps.
12.34pm: Countryside. Layla and Lizzie have no idea where they are and have lost all sense of direction.
12.35pm: Countryside. It transpires that bus driver has no idea where he is and has lost all sense of direction.
12.36pm: Bus passengers try to help driver. Elderly woman pipes up with the wrong directions and needs to be corrected loudly by elderly man. Middle-aged woman knows where they should be going but nobody is listening to her. Crazy men complicate situation by yelling abuse at the driver.
12.38pm: Bus en route again. Lizzie and Layla wonder if bus actually Stratford-bound as obviously driver, in light of recent events, is not exactly reliable in matters of local geography.
12.46pm: Crazy men and dog get off. Crazy 30ish woman with tamagotchi gets on with small child. Gets more excited about activities of her tamagotchi than the activities of her small child in a very loud voice, and describes an old man on the bus as 'arrrrty-farrrrrty.'
1.10pm: Bus reaches Stratford, much to Lizzie and Layla's relief. They get off, and the adventure can safely say it has been begun.
After fish and chips by the river, and a rather strange encounter in the RSC gardens with groups of people dressed for a garden party in big pastel hats, they discover the Stratford Brass Rubbing Centre. Due to their meagre student funds it is regretfully decided that they cannot stump up the £1.95 to partake of the brass-rubbing fun currently ensuing there. Their two more hard-working housemates will not be getting the gift of a brass rubbing that evening. Maybe next year, when they're earning, they can aspire towards brass-rubbings to bestow upon their friends, but for now it is but a dream.
To get over the disappointment, they wend their way to The Dirty Duck, where an accordion player and his troop have obviously decided to spend the afternoon on the pub balcony in the sunshine, playing away to themselves. Lizzie and Layla decide to have half a pint and listen to them.
This is pleasant enough, until Layla hears an impending jingle, and a troop of Morris men walk down the street. Lured by the English folk music, they fail to go away, and instead stand looking up at the accordionist with adoring eyes. One dancer is moved enough to perform an impromptu dance with his bells and white hankerchieves in the middle of the road. Lorry driver slows and drives round him without so much as a flicker of an eye. Obviously mid-dance Morris men are common hazards in Stratford. Layla and Lizzie get another drink.
After the Morris men have jingled on, a couple of men in Shakespearean costume waver up. Cannot decide if they are very drunk or just 'acting.' They come on to the pub balcony and do a little sketch between Shakespeare and his barber, attracting a crowd of large American tourists and one woman who doesn't understand and tries to sit down on the stool they have purloined for their set. Layla and Lizzie are ringside for the performance and make sure they don't catch the barber's eye. Layla is asked if she wants her hair cut. Afterwards she wishes she'd said yes because that would really have messed their sketch up, but alas, the moment is passed. Layla and Lizzie get another drink.
After that, it is time for the pilgrimage to the RSC tat shop, to marvel at such wonders as the 'half-timbered rubik cube' and 'traditional' Shakespeare jewellery, get excited about all the productions, encounter the Morris men again in full flow, and to buy a 99.
Whilst eating, they spy a narrowboat called Knot Normal, which they agree perfectly sums up their day, and is an appropriate point at which to end it. They make it home in time for tea and Doctor Who.
And Doctor Who strikes them as surprisingly normal after the truly bizarre day that can best be described like this:
February 27, 2006
Today was one of those days when I woke up, lay around in bed for a while and then decided that my sheets really needed washing. I would like to point out this was not because they were actually incredibly dirty, or that I'd just got jam and coffee all over them, but because somehow, in the last ten minutes, they'd just crept over that boundary of being fresh and crisp and a little bit bouncy to being, well, just a bit dull and apathetic about life. You know how sheets can be.
Unfortunately, what I didn't know at this point was that today was also the day our boiler had been seized with a fit of dullness and apathy, and had decided, in its infinite wisdom, to go on strike. So there was no hot water, and more importantly for our heroes the sheets no nice hot radiators for them to bask on whilst drying out.
Which does explain why I ended up in our conservatory/living room/shack-tacked-on-back-of-house this evening wearing a ratty cardigan and three skirts and standing on a chair with a damp double duvet cover and a hair dryer.
However, thanks to the BBC and Stephen Poliakoff I managed to cover the event in some false glamour by imagining some nice winsome music and lush scenery in the background. The sheets weren't flopping, they were billowing, probably complementing my ruddy gipsy appearance in this world of order. Oh, and I was actually the young frowny-but-pretty assistant to some aging millionaire with bizarre and innocent whims, and that everything was going to end very contentedly in some big function where everyone feels heartglad to have each other despite the fact that their relationships have fallen through/their family disintegrated/they slept with their sister. There's something very comforting about Poliakoff dramas*, even when you have a fully functioning boiler. You know you're definitely guaranteed a lavish party or three, and probably a nice stylish mushy moment sandwiched somewhere between the fireworks and slow orchestral panning over the landscape. It's like the televisual equivalent of champagne – luxurious, indulgent and you know exactly what you're getting, even if the flute it comes in is a slightly different shape every time.
Thank goodness for Poliakoff, I say. Without him, at this point I'd probably still be mooching round the house staring moodily at my damp sheets and kicking holes in the boiler, and we all know what happened last time it was allowed to get to that point.
*Especially Friends and Crocodiles in which Damien Lewis just keeps saying my name over and over again in fond tones, although that is completely irrelevant, of course. Of course.
February 17, 2006
And the prophets foretold that in the far distant future a Shining Silver Machine would appear, overnight, a gleaming thing of Joy and Wonder among the murky coloured micras and the grubby white vans, and the Street would truly be transformed by its glorious Presence, and all would look upon the Miracle with thankful eyes…
…apart from the person whose parking space it had taken as it fell from the heavens.
All right, strictly, I suppose, it's not actually my parking space, apart from the fact that it is the spot that is directly outside my house. And also I consider it my right, as a driver without power steering, to have priority to this particular space, as it's directly next to a driveway so I don't have to wrench my arms out of their sockets and attempt a parallel park with an interested audience twitching their curtains. I can also gaze upon this hallowed spot from the spare room window, and give Coco a little wink every so often so she doesn't get too lonely out there. It's nice for a little car to feel appreciated, after all. The poor girl hasn't really got that much going for her otherwise.
And for a while, this worked. Coco sat happily outside the window, for the most part. Occasionally, she and I would find somebody else had coasted into our spot, and there were a few times when she ended up nose to nose with an entirely undesirable van, but these are after all, formative life experiences, and she doesn't seem to have suffered unduly from them.
But that was all back in the halcyon days of Before Merc. Literally overnight, this silver beast dropped from the skies, and we woke one morn about five weeks ago to find it twinkling outside our house. And it has not moved since.
At first, it was a bit of local interest. It added a bit of glamour and speculation to our humdrum lives. I mean, it's not everyone who has a whacking great Mercedes Benz appear outside their house now, is it? However, gradually, the charm wore off. Every morning now, we wake to feel its presence looming outside our closed curtains, and have to look away from its scrutiny as we lock the door every night. It is immovable, unchanging in wind and weather, and we are powerless against it. Coco and I even have to respectfully change down a gear as we pass its presence in case we graze its silver sheen, and the two of us remain in perpetual fear of overstepping the boundaries of courtesy as we try to parallel park near its large shiny body.
What we are desperate to know, but do not dare to ask, is when will it leave? When can we return to our cheerful pursuit of carelessly dodging round little two door metros and fiestas without its eternally threatening presence? When, in fact, can we cease to live in fear? It's been sitting there for over a bloody month now, and hasn't moved once. It doesn't appear to belong to anybody. More importantly, it's hogging my parking space, in the way a car with no claim to the house it sits beside and probably power power power steering has no right to do. Besides, it makes Coco feel inadequate. Look, I tell her, it's got nothing on you. You are beloved of an honest woman, and although you may have only a teeny engine and battered white paintwork, you are so valued that all that ceases to be important.
So, you see, having a nice shiny mystery vehicle brightening up the street is all very well, but now it's just plain annoying, for many reasons. I'm just waiting for the second Miracle to occur – the one where it disappears as mysteriously as it came. (And although we never hear of it, it's found by the police three nights later, burnt out and dumped at the bottom of the Sydenham Industrial Estate.)
But all that Coco and I care about is that it never flashes its glossy chasse in our parking spot again.
February 16, 2006
I thought it was an isolated incident at first, truly I did. You see, it seemed so harmless. All I did was press one teeny tiny little button. A teeny tiny oh-so-miniscule button. What's the harm in that? you say. And I shake my head from the sofa, and reply with sssh, keep it down. I'm watching the Channel Five Afternoon Movie.
Yes. You did hear that right. For all those unfamiliar with the glory of daytime television, Channel Five, or '5ive' (correctly pronounced 'fiveive') as they prefer to be known, as obviously they are cool and hip and in tune with the youth of today and therefore obviously not at all a waste of bandwidth at all, every afternoon put on two films for your viewing pleasure.
They're not the sort of films you're likely to have seen at the cinema. They're not the sort of films you're likely to have read reviews of in some esoteric magazine but never got round to seeing because they were only shown once, at midnight, in an art house cinema in an attic the other side of Liverpool. They're not even the sort of films you may have picked up in a Woolworths bargain bucket for 50p marked 'straight to video.' Oh no, these are a whole new beast. These are the American 'made-for-tv' movies. Which, I suppose, is exactly what you come up with when you invent a zillion cable channels and need something to fill them. One day, when the viewing public finally becomes tired of seeing fifty Friends and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps episodes a day, I predict Channel 4 and the BBC will end up with exactly the same concept. But with fewer white picket fences and 'wise woman' parts for Whoopi Goldberg.
So yes, anyway, it was entering the post-lunch-Neighbours period, and I felt nothing more than a fleeting, idle curiosity to see what else was on. So, ever ever so whimsically, I gaily flipped the remote. Little did I know what I had let myself in for. I was confronted with a small orphan boy riding his bicycle between the white picket fences, quickly replaced with a car smash where a tousled, bloody and yet beautiful woman was being hauled tenderly from the wreckage by David Hasselhoff in a fireman's helmet and his trusty pet dalmation. Cute orphan children, David Hasselhoff, and a faithful dalmatian? How could I resist?
This turned out to be the masterpiece known as One True Love. Somehow, despite the advert breaks for hearing aids, post 50s insurance and denture sterilising equipment, I remained on that sofa until the beautiful woman, not longer bloodied but still in her wedding dress (from the wedding she ran out of to be with David Hasselhoff) had ended up with her Baywatch fire fighter, driving off in his T-bird with dalmatian and cute orphan kid sitting in the the back.
And I thought that would be the end of that. But today, all that changed. I arrived home to find a housemate, who shall remain nameless, engrossed in a touching tale of a man who fell down a sinkhole during mardi gras and was being chased through a cave by wet cement whilst his girlfriend ran about anxiously and yet attractively trying to save him.
It appears the addiction is catching. But even worse, I have started to apply the Rules Of The C5AM to my own life. For example, the small cute girl in the pink dress who almost ran into me in the Arts Centre today I expected to have a young, widowed and incredibly sexy father (who would of course have a great classic car) instead of a normal jeans and oversized jumper mother. I laboured under the delusion that the spring wind was sweeping my hair into an attractive tousled look rather than the usual haystack. And when I fell backwards going down the bus steps today (I know I'm clumsy, but in my defence,I hadn't eaten for seven hours and the driver did brake rather sharply) instead of collapsing back in an undignified manner and smiling shamefacedly at the old lady looking up at me from the lower deck in concern, I was supposed to have been caught by a muscle-bound firefighter or similar, who would have miraculously appeared behind me, and would, of course have proposed within a fortnight.
I think the C5AM may have ruined my life. If I start beginning sentences with 'when I was nothing but the littlest of little girls,' or 'I had the most beautiful dream last night…' or even 'I'm sorry [insert name here] but I just can't marry you. Don't ask me to explain… I just can't' then please, please, put me out of my misery.
Just don't let it get to the stage where I start thinking rainstorms are romantic, I'm begging you.
January 18, 2006
I love the fact that on any post-pub walk back to my house, every possible take-out delight is available en-route. Fish and chips, curry, chinese, and pizza (twice). What more could anyone need? It's also helpful as a Virtuous-ometer – I know my willpower's feeling good about itself if I manage to make it all the way home without cracking, especially if I make it past the '10% DISCOUNT ON ALL FOODS' sign in the Royal. I always succumb to the Royal mainly because most of the menu is spelt right, and this pleases me more than I should probably admit.
And the guy behind the counter is friendly, unlike a certain lady in another place not a million miles away, which we shall merely allude to as Sonacsut. She always gives me this glance of 'I'm far too cool and attractive and my hair is just too damn flicky to take your order' and then glares balefully from behind the desk until my azzip is ready. If it wasn't buy-one-get-one-free from the shop, I swear I'd have it delivered just so I didn't have to face her. Maybe that's why they do that offer. It's bad enough just walking past the shop window, especially times like tonight when my hair's a bit crazy and I was sure I still had wax on my face (which I discovered later that I still did).
Yes, wax on my face. I somehow managed to splatter a candle completely over myself in the grand tradition of things, which meant I spent half an hour on the floor with a hot iron and old newspapers, trying to get the stuff out of my clothes, and another half hour picking wax out of my hair/teeth/cleavage, at which point I decided this was not the way I wanted to spend my evening. So I ended up in the Jug instead, where I got disturbed for the first time by the fact that they have the same chairs and clock as my mother has in the kitchen, and had to keep running to the toilet to check that I didn't look like I'd got some weird waxy form of leprosy.
In other news: I won back my parking spot on the street, Costcutters appear to have stopped stocking plain noodles, and my Shakespeare essay appears to have become all about hats, which will be interesting, I'm sure.
January 14, 2006
Wise words from The Arcade Fire – unwitting prophets of the Essay Doom that hath befallen me.
I now have four thousand and one words, which means nine hundred and ninety nine words to go. (It's nice to know I still have elementary maths skills, if nothing else.) I will not give in, even though my bed looks tempting and cosy and is all snuggled up against the radiator waiting for me. It's wearing its special purple blanket and everything, and is just flaunting its cosiness a little too much, if you ask me. There's just no need to ever be quite so brazen with cushions. Not that I'll tell it that. After all, it wants the attention.
No, I will turn from it until I have written those nine hundred and ninety nine words. Nine hundred and ninety nine words that will be fantastic, and marvellous, and profound. Or alternatively, they'll just make sense in the cold light of Sunday, which would be nice.
If anyone wants to write nine hundred and ninety nine words on Jane Austen, Charlotte Smith, eighteenth century feminism and inheritance as a moral reward in return for homebaked goods, a large gin and tonic or my undying love and devotion you know how to find me. Just follow the scent of strong black coffee through the streets of Leamington until you pitch up on my doorstep. You can't miss it.
December 18, 2005
And in the same vein...
darling little thing
so small and squat and yet so
NB: This goes some way to explaining why I don't and shouldn't 'do' poetry. Apart from as use as some sort of torture device to force people into giving me money and chocolate and things.
Oh, and thank you to Steve and his mother for providing me with this thing of beauty. Don't worry, once I'm warmed up there will be no more need for poetry, I promise.