Sunday, October 24, 2010

Moving on by standing still

I don't understand that title either, so I'm sorry in advance for what is likely to be an oddly philosophical and potentially off-kilter post.

I did not have a great week, it's fair to say. I thought I was kicking goals at work during the week but I received a couple of emails that dented my confidence. Admittedly those emails were poorly worded and written by somebody generally accepted to be moron of the highest order, but they were still enough to put me in a funk by week's end.

Saturday I spent the whole day out and about, seeing two flats on opposite sides of town. The first room was small and the apartment building entirely uninspiring, but the second flat was just right. Exactly the sort of place I wanted, in exactly the sort of neighbourhood I should be living in. Unaccustomed as I am to the protocols of renting apartments in England, I left the flat in high spirits, sneaking around the corner into the neighbour's driveway to text the landlord (who I'd only just left 20 seconds before), to tell her I wanted the flat to be mine. I knew she had other people coming to see the flat, but I wanted her to be assured that I saw the place as mine. Marvelling at my wonderfully swift decision-making skills, I almost skipped down the street in relief. I made it as far as the end of the block when the landlord texted back to say that somebody had already put up the money for the room, and I therefore couldn't have it. Have you ever been kicked in the stomach? I haven't, but I expect that I now know what it feels like. Where had this sneaky cash-giver sprung from? Who walks around London with enough cash in their pockets to cover a room deposit and first month's rent? Certainly not me!

I was pretty upset for the rest of the afternoon, not just mourning the loss of the room, but because I seem to be fighting a losing game. In looking at apartments, I don't want to be embarrassed by where I live. I know you can't judge a flat on the building's exterior (especially not in London, where ugly ex-council flats have been done up so beautifully inside). All the same, I don't want to live in a dodgy, ugly neighbourhood. I want to be able to invite people over to my flat (though who these potential guests might be is anybody's guess right now). I want my bedroom to be an oasis - a comfortable, spacious, clean and bright living space. I want a kitchen I can cook in, a bathroom I can use without fear of foot fungus, and all this in a clean and safe environment I can come home to every night.

If this reads as snobby, fussy, or princessy in any way, it's not my intention. Or maybe it IS my intention but all the same, I make no apology for it. Most people I tell this to understand my feelings, particularly locals or expats who have lived here a while and have done their dash in dodgy share flats. My strongest advocates seem to be the UK police whose guidance I have sort in the course of my dealings with them at work. The UK police have been a great source of advice for areas of London that I should definitely look to live in, versus the areas of London best left avoided. If anyone's going to know about safe vs unsafe neighbourhoods, its the people that patrol the streets, right? Unfortunately none of these uniformed Good Samaritans came forward with offers of spare rooms or empty flats I could rent from them.

So for now at least, it's back to the drawing board for a new week, and with (hopefully) a new attitude.

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