Saturday, February 27, 2010

Alternative London

I hung up the phone and rejoined my friends in the queue. I was shaking. Lise put her arm around me. Everyone knew I had been arguing with Taylor but didn’t want to pry. ‘You ok?’ Mel whispered. I nodded. I could understand Taylor but didn’t know what to do, I wished I had the balls to tell him to leave me alone but it would crush him. Was it best to just cut all ties and tell him to get on with it or let him carry on as he was with the hope that I just needed a bit of time to get my head together? We went into the club and Lise and Mel went straight to the dance floor to burn it up. I hit the bar, I needed a beer. I took a massive gulp of it and took in my surroundings. I was at an indie club in the west end. I’d never been here or anywhere like it before. Everyone was so meticulously alternative it was painful. I glanced down at my outfit, black t-shirt, jeans and pink converse, and felt so plain it was untrue. I swore that there must be a props cupboard in the building because everyone that passed by me had better, bigger and more exquisite accessories: feather boas, trilbies, huge sunglasses, ties, flowers, belts. And the hairstyles were unmentionable, one guy couldn’t see where he was going his hair was blow dried and sprayed across his face like a net.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just like home?

The room was big and plain without much furniture apart from an old double bed next to the window. ‘It’s £100 a week plus bills,’ the proprietor told me. I looked around me, this was the cheapest place I’d viewed and it was a shithole. He showed me the kitchen, it was average. ‘You’ll be sharing with a French guy. He’s nice. We’re all nice, we’re like a big family. One of the girls even sleeps in my room with me if she has her friends staying!’ I smiled through gritted teeth and tried to imagine myself fitting into this ‘family’.

‘A few other things,’ he added ‘you have to pay me in cash on the first of every month. The deposit must be in cash as well. If you wish to use the washing machine you must pay me £3 per use and if you have visitors to stay it is £10 per person, per night.’ I was shocked ‘What, even if it’s a friend who can’t get home last minute?’ I asked. ‘It’s cheaper than a hotel,’ he said cheerily. I couldn’t believe it, what a cheapass git.

‘You must make up your mind now,’ he said going downstairs ‘there is another girl interested in the room.’ We went into his front room on the ground floor where a girl waited, ‘Hi’ she said in a German accent. Poor thing was clearly going to get bent over and royally screwed. I didn’t want a confrontation, ‘Do you mind if I let you know later this evening?’ I said politely. He shrugged his shoulders disinterestedly and showed me out of the flat.

I walked as quickly as I could to the nearest tube station and didn’t look back. I emailed him that night very politely saying I wouldn’t be taking the room.

The next morning I had a reply in my inbox:
‘I knew you were a timewaster as soon as I met you. You wouldn’t know a good thing if it hit you in the face.’ I’d clearly made a very good decision.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I got my phone out of my handbag for the fifth time to check for messages or missed calls. Nothing. I was sick to death of flat hunting. I’d been searching for over a week now and all I’d achieved was a better knowledge of London (from constantly getting lost), a lot of wasted time and encounters with a number of weirdos. Fingers crossed this place in Sheperds Bush would be the one...

However, my situation wasn’t looking too good, the guy I was supposed to meet was nearly an hour late and what I’d seen of the area so far wasn’t great: a guy had pushed me off the bus, there’d been a fight just up the straight and every person who had walked past me looked decidedly dodgy/Australian.

An Indian man came out of the house and approached me with a big smile, holding out his hand: ‘Sarah?’ I nodded and put out my hand ‘Pleased to meet you, I'm Saeed’ he said as he ushered me past past him through the door to the town house. I followed him into the hallway past an old bike, several stacks of magazines and some other general mess. We went up a narrow staircase, the carpet was worn and dirty. Saeed pulled a huge bunch of keys from his pocket and opened a door to a bedroom. My mum had always warned me of men with big bunches of keys...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Still looking

He showed us to the bedroom and bathroom and began demonstrating how the washing line worked. Great.

Back in the hallway Charles pointed out a large photo of a wrinkly old woman sat before a huge Christmas tree in the living room. ‘That’s my mother, bless her. I can sense her here sometimes.’ He pointed to the plastic framed photos covering the walls of the large hallway. ‘I took all of these’ he proclaimed proudly. We went into the kitchen where he showed off his vast appliance collection. ‘So, I have a few more people coming to see the flat but it’s £400 including bills.’

I thanked Charles kindly, as we backed out of the door, and tried desperately not to engage him in another conversation. I breathed a sigh of relief as he closed the front door. ‘So that place was really nice and quite cheap’ Joe said, biting his lip. ‘What an absolute weirdo, no way.’ We burst out laughing as we recalled the strangest moments from the encounter. ‘You seemed to get on well with him, you wouldn’t shut up!’ I exclaimed. ‘Only because you were stunned into complete silence.’

‘Oh finding a flat is such hard work,’ I moaned. He linked arms with me and pulled me into a pub ‘Let’s go for a drink’.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The search goes on...

I hopped off the tube at Putney and exited the station. Joe wasn’t there so I got my compact out and checked my face and hair. My phone beeped: Be there in 2. I sat down on a bench in the sun to wait. This was the first time we'd seen each other since the 'incident' at Easter and although I knew it would be ok, I was nervous. There was also the fact that, officially, me and Taylor were still together. He walked round the corner and I smiled, he gave me a massive hug ‘Good to see you’. He smelt amazing.

‘Are you sure you don’t mind doing this?’ I asked as I consulted my map for about the eightieth time. ‘Of course not, I’m quite interested actually.’ We walked down an alley in the direction of flat number five. After getting vaguely lost a few times we arrived outside a grand looking building, defaced with scaffolding. I pressed the doorbell for flat 04 and waited with anticipation. I couldn’t even remember which flat this viewing was for...

A small bald man answered the door and stuck out a tiny hand introducing himself as Charles. We shook it in turn and he showed us into the flat. It was big and very clean and tidy. He led us to the living room and we sat on the sofa in the big red and green room.

‘So this is my place,’ he began. Definitely gay I thought. He started talking and talking and talking... An hour passed and we hadn’t moved. Joe shifted uncomfortably on the sofa. Charles opened a cupboard to show us his extensive DVD collection and I decided enough was enough. ‘Um so do you mind if I see the rest of the house?’ I enquired...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Joe is the one who got away.

The one I will always wonder 'what if...' The one I sometimes dream of and consider moving heaven and earth for.

From the minute I met him I loved his hair, his accent, his smell. It is an almost stalker like obsession I can only put down to not having had the opportunity to actually go off him, chances are his fear of commitment, lack of faith in relationships and no desire to have children would have got to me in the end but... alas I'll never know.