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.