Busy Busy Busy.
Saturday started early, when at 6am we discovered that the contract my parents were due to sign had to be witnessed. At 6am this was a complication, so instead of the Plan (which was for me & LC to wander up and do the contract thing and parents to follow after) Mum drove me up to Reading at half seven in the morning. We got to Reading. We parked. We found the place. We signed the contracts. We have a flat.
We found the flat.
I’m not sure what I can say about the new flat. To say it isn’t quite as nice as the old house is to do the old house a disservice. The carpets are uniformly horrible and stained, the paint work patchy and scratched, the kitchen cupboards are bowing, the fridge last saw daylight in the seventies, and the oven barely works (and is the type where you have to reach over the rings to turn off), and the people in the flat above are occasionally noisy. I suspect I’ll be more impressed with this as a place to live when we have furniture – this place is unfurnished – but for now by HappyBunnyometer is set to “Watership Down – Bright Eyes Bit”. So we brought a couple of boxes of my stuff down from the storage place (Getting terribly lost on the way back in), tried to find a supermarket (Getting terribly lost on the way around), and then gave up on the day and went to the AFP Green Man Meet instead, and met Marco, and a Good Time Was Had By All.
Sunday was spent waiting for LC’s parents in the morning (Who are good, because they brought LC’s Futon down as well as the rest of her stuff, so I’m not sleeping on the floor anymore until we have furniture. Not that I shall be sleeping on the floor then, but anyway. Then finding the Supermarket again (We’d managed to find Sainsbury’s the day before. Not when we were looking, natch, but when we were walking to the station to get to London. Gah). Then AdrianO wandered down with the stuff he had been storing for us, and so I had my computer back. That was Sunday.
Monday was interesting.
Monday morning I wandered out to a phone box to get our land line connected (Because Calls Are Free When You Phone BT. But not if you are on a mobile they aren’t, and a half-hour queue at 20p per minute is not a good thing). At 11:00 I put though the order. At 13:15 they sent me a text-message saying the phone line was working, and at 13:45 we got our very first wrong number. At this point it was tipping it down with rain, so I decided to do the indoor bits, like changing the address of my credit cards. Whilst doing this, I heard drips falling into the sink. Suspecting the tap to be leaking, I went to turn it off. I discovered to my surprise that the tap was not leaking. The roof was.
Now, you may think that I should not have been surprised. After all, given the description above of a flat that hasn’t been polished in a while, it wouldn’t be too surprising, right?
Yeah, but this is a ground floor flat and the roof is leaking.
So I phone Vanderpumps. “We’ll get someone over” they say.
A couple of hours later:
“This is Reading Maintenance. Someone will be over tomorrow”
“Er, the roof is starting to bulge. I’d appreciate it if you could do it today”
“I’ll see what I can do”
Pause for about a half-hour. Then:
“Hi, This is Reading Maintenance. Someone will be without in about 45 minutes. It would be quicker, but he has to pick up the keys from Tilehurst for the flat above.”
“Can’t he just ask them to let him in?”
“The flat above is vacant”
“Um”, dynamically stated your resourceful hero, “No it isn’t.”
“According to our records, 64 is vacant”
“Then it looks like Vanderpumps have a squatters problem then, doesn’t it?”
“Um” said the maintenance people “Yes. I’ll let them know”.
The previous day we were called upon by a gentlemen from upstairs, who mentioned he was moving out today and that if we wanted we could buy his furniture dirt cheap. He offered us a wardrobe and matching cabinets. Long term readers of this saga might remember that we originally wanted the flat above us – the one he is living in – and so I recognised the description of the furniture that was in that flat when we viewed it. I declined.
So, what we had suspected (after seeing the tenants – and yes, that’s judging by appearances, and I’m sorry – and the torn bit of paper on the door that mentioned squatters rights) was really true, the flat above was being squatted in.
I wasn’t surprised, really. The flat had been empty since January, mostly because the landlord has priced himself out of the market. The rent for that one is more than this one, and this one is too expensive for what it is, or rather the state it is.
Apparently, when the gentlemen – and his dog – had moved out the previous day, he had taken his washing-machine (I’m paraphrasing here. The flat – when we saw it – had had a washing machine. That will teach the landlord, because if he had accepted our original offer we’d have moved in there, and he wouldn’t be down a washing machine. But I digress) but hadn’t unplumbed it properly, flooding the back of their kitchen and then – eventually – ours. It’s repaired now, and Vanderpumps are working to evict the people above (I didn’t suggest this. They aren’t bad neighbours, they only are loud in daylight, they’re friendly and everything. As I said, I more or less knew they were squatting when we saw the notice, but it wasn’t really a problem).
So, we have a phone line (Although LC’s laptop is the only Internet connection right now until my modem makes it down. Broadband in 9 days) and we have a house, and LC has a – albeit temporary – job. Things certainly could be a lot worse.