Sunday, 12 August 2012

London Living


My son is revving up for his second year of dentistry at uni.  A London apartment has been found.  Now to me, the words London apartment conjure up a host of possible pictures.  Lofty penthouses.  Converted warehouses with high ceilings and state of the art kitchens.  Or even a snazzy waterside jobbie with a balcony that overlooks the tugs chugging up and down the Thames.  So when Rob burst in through the door cheerfully calling out, ‘I’ve found a place and it’s really good,’ I was chuffed to bits for him.  Rob’s smile was so wide his lips were almost meeting around the back of his head.  ‘What’s it like?’ I asked eagerly.  ‘Well,’ he hesitated, picking his words carefully, ‘my room is the smallest but it’s really light and airy.  And I can see the sky!’

Seeing the sky is quite important to Rob.  He spent the last year in Queen Mary’s Halls of Residence overlooking a building site which, in no time at all, turned into a towering new hospital wing completely blocking out all light.  The view from his window was bricks, bricks and more bricks punctuated by blacked-out glass which, funnily enough, reflected back the bricks of the building he was inhabiting.  After a while Rob found this view so depressing he ended up blu-tacking to his walls posters of spectacular sunsets, emerald parks and gushing waterfalls.

And so it was that I soon found myself loading up the car and transporting all Rob’s gear to this particular London apartment.  An hour later we were parked up in a mean side street adjacent to a squalid looking block of Council flats.  ‘Are you sure your flat is privately owned?’ I asked Rob.  ‘Oh Mum don’t start stressing,’ Rob implored as we got out of the car, ‘and please don’t embarrass me in front of my flatmates.’  ‘Of course not,’ I said as I followed my son up a concrete staircase that stank of urine.

‘You’re all paying HOW MUCH?’ I shrieked at Rob and his flatmates as we stood in a kitchen full of mismatched cabinets filled with mouse droppings.  When my son had told me it was £500 per month I’d naively thought they were splitting this rental between them.  How any Landlord has the cheek to charge £2,000 per month for a grime encrusted s**thole (which the lettings agent insisted had been professionally cleaned) is surely a joke.  Except I wasn’t laughing.  ‘Oh it’s not too bad,’ quavered Rob.  ‘You’re right,’ I fumed, ‘it’s not too bad, IT’S DIRE.’  Yes, okay, I was being embarrassing.  But hey, I’m a parent and we’re all embarrassing right?  And then I did what any other embarrassing parent would do.  Despatched all four of them to the local shop for bleach, scourers, cleaning fluid, and anti-bac wipes.

Seven hours later the place had been scrubbed from ceiling to floor and wall to wall.  I can’t say it looked any better for it though.  I also think Rob might be re-cycling his posters.  You can indeed see the sky from his window.  If you crane your neck.

Oh to have written a novel like Fifty Shades and made a comfortable million or three.  Then I’d have bought my son one of those brand spanking new London apartments half a mile down the road with all mod-cons.  Meanwhile, I shall source e-bay for a couple of mousetraps.

Which reminds me, what is a mouse’s favourite game?  Hide and squeak...

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