Tag Archives: house

Ahoy deck season…

‘If you come on my deck, those Mickey Mouse socks will have to go. You will have to be naked,’ are among the first words Crazy Yank say to me when I go upstairs on a particularly warm day last April.

That morning I had stepped out of my bedroom to see the sun shining brightly through the glass panel above the front door. I felt warm in its reflected rays. So with a reinforced optimism, I went back into my room to dress accordingly: a mini denim skirt, a tankini top, cardigan and Mickey Mouse socks.

‘Everything down to here is sexy until you get to those Mickey Mouse socks,’ Crazy Yank begins.

I tell him I don’t care because my feet are cold and no one’s going to see but I know I will have to negotiate to gain access to the deck this season.

‘It’s my sanctuary. I don’t let the kids go up there… Where are you going?’

‘I’m going to go up to the deck,’ I say, clutching my socks.

He follows me up the first stair case and then the next: a private stair case that leads to the master bedroom with en-suite bathroom, MTV Cribs-style walk-in wardrobe and the deck. We step outside among the replenished Buddha heads and plant pots after his recent trip to Homebase and TK Maxx. Two loungers are next to each other. One is barely in the sun and the other is entirely in the shade.

‘It’s too early for the sun,’ he says.

‘Who’s going to sit there?’ I ask, pointing to the sun-lit lounger.

‘Me,’ he says, lying down, grinning.

‘I’ll come back later,’ I say.

I go down the two flights of stairs and put my socks back on. Lily rings to say she’s five minutes away in the car. She arrives and we set up camp in the back garden. Crazy Yank appears.

‘I’m renaming the cat Govinder. I’m in my transcendent zone,’ he says balancing on one leg as Demon Cat rushes into the house. Govinder, Govinder, come on. Come here,’ he says, wandering back inside. Continue reading

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North of the river

It was a Wednesday afternoon the day I moved to Chiswick. It should have been the day before but I hadn’t finished packing. Henry was the only person in the house when Crazy Yank’s Jeep arrived. In between helping me take my combination of suitcase and Duty Free bags (full of my life, not airport frivolities), Henry said: ‘Good luck with Sharky,’ half-grimacing, half-laughing. He gave me a hug. Said something like ‘See you soon’ and I was out of the door. He stood on the doorstep with the same awkward expression that had accompanied our first meeting in the hallway. I put my hand up to gesture a wave but didn’t quite manage it as we drove off.

‘Living with us is going to be easy,’ Crazy Yank began. ‘It’s going to be fun. I mean, it’s a really fun house. I want you to feel at home. Act like it’s your home. We’re easy-going, y’know.’ He repeated these sentiments a few times for the next 10 minutes of the journey (and especially while we were stuck in traffic on the Chiswick Bridge) and yet again before we pulled up at the house.

We dumped my suitcase and Duty Free bags in my room. He went back to his office on the second floor. I stared at the suitcase, the Duty Free bags and this room that had been both a garage and home cinema. The carpeted two-step runway in the middle of the room was a reminder of its former celluloid life. It was a massive space, with an adjoining shower and laundry room. It had plenty of ceiling lights but no windows, which made it feel a bit like a garage. I didn’t bother unpacking that day (or properly until about a year later if that) because I planned to move out two months later to live with a friend from university. In just eight weeks, I’d be living with someone my own age again and my bedroom would have windows. Or so I thought.

This is where the real story begins. And welcome to the start of your education on surviving life as a lowly lodger (plus how to guess the weather to match your wardrobe and prevent the premature onset of rickets through lack of vitamin D caused by no windows for nearly 14 months, of course…)

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The short goodbye

It started with a knock on my door. I lay in bed, staring at the sunlight dancing on the ceiling. I hadn’t got back from work until after 11pm the night before. Laden with Tesco bags, I was faced with Henry snogging some girl called Flora from Wimbledon High in the kitchen. The party hadn’t died down until five. It was 10 O’Clock.

‘Sas? Sorry. Are you awake?’

I threw my body off the bed and came to the door. ‘Hi Lil, sorry, I’m awake. I’m just lying in bed looking at the ceiling. How are you doing?’

She gave me a slight smile. ‘Fine. I’m… fine. Can I… ah, have a chat when you’re up and dressed downstairs?’

‘Yes, sure,’ I said noticing the shy cigarette resting by her side.

When I went downstairs, there was a new cigarette resting between two of Lilac’s slim fingers.

‘Everything OK?’ I asked. She gave me a faint smile.

‘Things are going to get nasty around here and I don’t think it’s fair on you. I’ve loved having you around. In fact, you’re my favourite ever lodger. Lily will tell you that,’ she said, stopping to take a drag. ‘But I can already feel how stressed I’m getting and Henry’s exams aren’t for another two months.’

‘No, I understand,’ I said, winded despite empathising. What now?

‘I know Shark Attack has said he’d be happy to have you stay for a while. He has a house by the water. It’s a really beautiful house. And Big James has also said you could go and stay with him and his boys. So you’ve got plenty of offers. They’re good guys.’

‘Yeah… I’m not sure.’

‘Why? Because they’re men? Does that make it different?’

‘A bit. I know they’re nice and everything but I’d prefer to live with a woman. I think I’ll talk to friends and have a look around first.’

Friends weren’t moving or looking to move. I looked around. A box room in St John’s Wood. And then Crazy Yank’s three-storey house by the Thames. Two weeks later, he came to pick me up.

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