I have experienced many lifetimes since I last took finger print to key. I feel like some Buddhist illuminates who knows that he has died and been reborn in ever lower guises in the course of history.
Moving, as is well known, is one of the top five Most Stressful Experiences. Our move has been well within the tightest parameter of the top of the top five.
It is difficult to know where to start to illustrate the sheer horror of the whole catastrophic sequence of events, so I won’t bother. I will merely take you back to the day of the inspection by the owner.
Toni and I had sweated blood to get the flat looking as fine as it possibly could so that there could be no reason for The Owner (this time with a capital O for Ogre) denying us our full deposits back and, much more importantly, returning me my aval which amounts to six months’ rent.
We had cleaned in a way which would have delighted my mother’s father who was painstaking in the extreme in these matters (probably something to do with his having been an accountant and town treasurer) and even he would have found it difficult to have discovered any slight faults in our cleaning. We had plied bleach as if it was free, we had used every other cleaning agent on woods, glass, plastic, laminate, veneer, tile, fabric, steel, and several other more difficult to spell surfaces. We had painted ceilings to mask the growth of mould and Toni had siliconned every joint in the bathroom with specially bought, extremely cheap white stuff – and we were winning.
Every time we cleared away, something else would appear to take its place. Car load after car load of bits and pieces gradually revealed the full majesty of the tile floors which were sparkling with sweat!
We worked right up to the deadline which was the appearance of the Owner and the representative from our awful estate agents. Toni went out to take a last load of rubbish to the skip and I did yet another inspection of the property to ensure that we were leaving nothing.
Fifteen minutes to go and the inspections were, by now, mere confirmation that we had done our stuff.
My cursory glance into the utility area was satisfying: everything as it should be. Next door, or upstairs was taking a shower, but what cared I for neighbours who were soon to be ex-neighbours! The sound of the shower sounded oddly close. Too close.
With the sort of sick apprehension that is usually described in the more obvious detective stories, I opened the door of the utility cupboard and saw that the noise of the shower was actually that of a water pipe that had sprung a leak!
I heard Toni coming back up the steps to the door and, in the immortal words of Tom Hanks (the well-known non-actor) “Toni, we have a problem!”
It was the sort of ironic timing that only happens in books and not in real life, but however hard I tried to write the problem off to literary ineptitude, the hissing of the water kept reminding me that there was indeed something wetly wrong.
We had to turn the water off and, as we did so, the Owner turned up.
He was accompanied by a serious, officious looking young man who immediately read the utilities and started taking an inordinate number of photographs of all aspects of the flat. Walls, windows, lights, fittings, anything that looked significant and lots of things which looked amazingly insignificant were focused on and shot. I became increasingly suspicious and annoyed, as it looked like a clear prelude to a whole series of reasons for keeping the deposit.
The Owner however was supremely indifferent to everything going on and engaged in an animated conversation with Toni on the evil of our Argentinean neighbours in the flat below. Their crimes against humanity are too numerous to explain here, but their having seven dogs in a flat did not endear them to me. Toni actually used the conversation to say that their general attitude was the major reason for our leaving. This is nowhere near the truth but it did help our campaign for the return of the aval.
Formalities concluded we left for the house.
Our arrival was the point at which our lives, as we had known them, came to an abrupt end.
I have worked harder than I want to remember of any time in the past. I have gone through mere tiredness into the realm of hyper-fatigue where the world gradually appears to be more akin to the conception of Dalí than, say, Constable.
Gradually the house is beginning to have the appearance of a home. No room is without that transitory appearance which is the hallmark of the recently occupied house. There are boxes in every room and chaos peers round every corner, but there is an outline of what might be to come.
Everyone has his own story to chill the heart of the most optimistic mover and I have to say that I can top most of them with the experiences that we have had over the last six days!
Tiredness has become a way of life for us and we now accept it as a normal part of life, so I should concentrate on the house itself.
No one is interested in mundane facts about bedrooms, though I could tell you stories about the b ringing up of the new mattress that would make your toes curl.
We at last have an en suite bathroom which has been designated mine by Toni who has commandeered the guest bathroom as his.
My bathroom suffers from the taste of past times. The bath, sink and bidet are coloured in a tint which may be best described as ‘excreta light’ which is offset by a glaze of green tiles with tasteful stylized flower as a design motif! The light is a bulb hanging by a single wire on the glass. The mixer tap doesn’t really work and the toilet leaks.
The painting of the house is in poor order; there are no shelves in the kitchen cabinets; the glass is falling out of the studio glass door; the front gate is on its last legs; wood is rotting and so on and so forth – and we love it.
There is no comparison between the flat and the house. I don’t miss the beach view and rejoice in the space and the different levels.
I am typing this on the third floor balcony while Toni is looking through the telescope I bought him for his birthday a couple of years ago and cooing with delight as he inspects the craters on the moon.
It will take time for the idiosyncrasies of the place to become clear but we already realize that we have catapulted ourselves into a voyeuristic contemplation of a frenzied domestic situation which is being played out next door.
The family seems to live its life outdoors sitting round a table placed in the space under the house, shouting at each other while the television blares unnoticed – except of course by us! It appears that the adolescent girl of the household had made friends with various undesirable kids whom the mother denounced as ‘drug addicts’ and you can guess the rest of that scenario. I am sure that this particular soap opera will play itself out over the next couple of months.
As the kitchen has been a truly depressing space with few actual spaces between the boxes we have been eating out. Our most local restaurant is in the Maritime Club of Castelldefels and I have been impressed with the quality of food there. I have had the best pizza in my life there, though god knows the last time that I actually ate one!
We are yet to get a fridge, washing machine and dishwasher, but at least I have a little more cash now as my school has Done the Right Thing and paid me a double pay for June as would be traditional for all full time teachers and, much more importantly, I have had my aval back.
This means that I now possess the sacred bit of paper that is worth six months’ rent. As soon as I had it I went to The Most Hated Bank in the World (BBVA) and demanded the money be paid into my current account.
The woman in my bank in Castelldefels took one look at the form and said, “You have to go to Terrassa because that is where the aval was issued.” At the time that the aval was taken out I did indeed have my account in Terrassa but it was moved to Castelldefels. The aval is from BBVA paid for with money from my account. The money is to be paid into a BBVA account from BBVA. But I had to go to Terrassa!
When I got there they took the aval, photocopied it (of course) and handed me back a stamped photocopy and told me that the money would be paid to me on Monday, oh no, not Monday because it is a Bank Holiday in Terrassa, Tuesday then.
Just to remind you: the money in BBVA is to be paid to an account in BBVA, but it would take four days to complete. A few key strokes on a computer are far too technical a concept for that bunch of incompetent thieves to contemplate.
I intend to make a formal complaint about the breathtakingly appalling service (I’m not even going to put that word in inverted commas as their laughable approach to customers is beyond irony) and I am waiting for a full itemized list of the charges that those comedians have extorted from me for keeping my money for their use before I change my bank.
Tomorrow more work and a possible deadline for finishing the kitchen. The studio is almost complete and at least there is a comfortable bed in the bedroom. By the time Gwen and Dianne arrive there might even be reasonably comfortable beds in the guest room.
But that is too far into the future to be taken seriously, especially as there are boxes to be opened and essential items for the house to be found.
Bed seems both inviting and terminal.
And I don’t think that I can face another IKEA screw.
Until tomorrow! Until tomorrow!