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...