(Embargoed until our new letting contract went through.)
A few weeks ago, K. received a phone call from our very apologetic letting agents. Our regular contact had recently negotiated a good rent increase with the landlady, and had generally treated us really well over the last year: the main reason that we’d agreed to renew our contract at all, as we felt very much like they were agents for all involved. So it was a surprise to us that she would be in any way bashful: she was in our good books.
It turned out that our landlady wanted to remove almost all of our curtains, and many of the light fittings.
With her typically demanding spite, she wanted the particular fixtures and fittings by the next Monday: less than three working days later. Gradually the story came out, that apparently before renting out the property she had let her daughter live in it, and all of the items mentioned had been fitted by, and belonged to, and were a wedding present of: her. I think it’s fair to say that if anyone had turned up to our wedding with some of the belongings that were now being yanked out of the house then I would’ve banned the guests responsible from having any of the canapés. Hardly surprisingly by now, the agent had never heard of this daughter until that morning (we’re frankly not fully convinced that she even exists). And the daughter had happily left all of these fittings not merely on our inventory but in a house she didn’t occupy for four years.
Her daughter it was that was responsible for the voile. Apparently its spraypainted gold pedestal originally matched a minibar installed in the bedroom. A minibar. What else? Leopardskin furnishings? A water bed? All of the flame-effect uplighters, like a tiny portable Jongleurs, were her fault too. And the heavy mock-Tudor drapes across the front window, that at least had the decency to make up for the lack of any double glazing.
But now they were being removed. Along with some perfectly good lighting, and almost all of the curtains. And the bathroom mirror. And our landlady wasn’t particularly concerned about replacing any of it.
As you can imagine, we went through the roof. Well, I did: K. mostly had to act as a go-between to the go-between owing to lots on at work for me, and shouldered it as best as she could. But it was damned hard. The agent accepted that we’d have to have a satisfactory place to live, and so managed to squeeze a measly £250 out of the dried-up old shit for some six or seven pairs of curtains. We’d have to say goodbye to the bathroom mirror, and lights would disappear as and when they were deemed unnecessary—not too difficult, considering the ridiculous ornamentation that we had uplighting our alcoves—but eventually the agent found out, entirely by chance, that the old fool had a perfectly good supply of alternative curtains, but hadn’t thought to mention it.
That’s right. Alternative curtains. And they just never sprang to mind. Don’t we all occasionally lose track of our supplies and stores, our atticsfuls and garden-shed overflows, of alternative shiteing curtains?
Of course the new curtains in the bedroom were about two inches too short to keep sunlight out. And of course workies have been in and out of the house, bashing things, bodging things, pulling at things stupidly with fat fingers. And of course one idiosyncracy has been replaced with another: a trio of kitchen-like miniature halogen bulbs are in our bedroom now, glaring at the walls now bare of voile, making it feel more like a doctor’s reception than a relaxing retreat. But at least, almost, it’s over.
I think if we hadn’t already committed to another year—we’ve just renewed the contract, and have nowhere else to go in such a short space of time—then this would have been a leaving matter. In retrospect it doesn’t sound like as much as it was at the time, but the sheer lack of consideration with which this lunatic casually took apart our surroundings as if we were bugger-fucking-all has really cut us up.
The mica-powder icing on the broken-glass-filled cake was dumped unceremoniously into K’s lap at the end of the Monday, or C-day as you might call it. Finishing off a rough day; a day of once again stopping thick workies from chewing at the futon, or scratching up the carpet on the stairs, or pissing in the garden; and as she exhaustedly sat down at the dining-room table: she peered into unexpected darkness to find the dining-room table light had vanished and not been replaced.
This is what our house has become: the infested dwelling-place of a horde of flying monkeys in the thrall of some wicked witch, snatching away from us anything we might need to turn it into a home. I rang the agent the next day; between us, we’ve yet to squeeze two foot of cable and a bare fucking bulb out of Missus Mother-of-Voile, so watch this space.
Poor agents. Let our contact there have the last word: “I appreciate that this must be one of the maddest things a landlord has ever required of you, but trust me: it’s not the maddest thing I’ve heard from yours.”