when I was young

To quote my beloved John Grant: some days are just chicken bones. Let’s make that the whole bloody week.  There were various smallish irritations which culminated in our fucking house falling through.  To be honest, I was not surprised.  The whole business has been an infuriating, expensive exercise from start to finish, so I was largely unsurprised to hear that the sellers have just arbitrarily pulled out of the deal.  I expected to be more upset / annoyed by it, but it’s possible I’ve simply run out of emotional reactions.

So, it’s back on the horse, minus about a grand and a half.  I’m starting to feel a bit like the housing market equivalent of romance hero. I’ve had one mildly bad experience, which has led to me to conclude that everyone is evil and I should be the biggest arse around in order protect myself from future vulnerability.  I hate that trope, by the way.  It just makes everyone look like an adolescent.  You were meeeeeean to me, so now I’m going to be meeeeeeean to everyone back back and it’s okay because other people were meeeeeean first.

But I am being a bit more hard-nosed about things, though not necessarily in a wanting to screw people over way.  I still can’t be arsed with too much game playing but I was quite assertive to an estate agent yesterday for attempting to sell me a dilapidated 2 bedroom cottage for 300k.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a charming, dilapidated 2 bedroom cottage but there was no fucking way it should have been on the market for 300k. I honestly have NO IDEA what the sellers were thinking.  H says people tend to over-invest in the value of the things they have, especially things like houses into which you pour all your memories and stuff, but it, honestly, just made everyone look completely deranged.  It felt almost like some kind of personal insult – as if someone turned up with a dead cat in a bag and was all like “I will give you this dead cat in a bag for 50 meeeeeelion dollars.” I basically told them straight off I wasn’t even going to contemplate making an offer based on such a misguided evaluation. And then I felt bad and hastily added that I though the light was lovely in the breakfast room. God, I’m fucking hopeless.

We ran around like blue-arsed flies today seeing other, thankfully more sensibly priced properties, and found a couple of places that we quite liked so I, err, put offers in on both of them.  Well, why the fuck not?  If other people have the right to pull out of the process whenever they damn well please, I might as well do the same.  Nobody loses out – I mean the worst that happens is that they both get accepted and I feel morally obliged to buy two houses … err no … the worst that happens is that they both get accepted and I have to make a slightly awkward decision.  Also one of the properties was, um, kind of on a flood plain so my offer reflected that.  I probably shouldn’t buy a house on a flood plain but, um, I like it?  The house I mean, not the flood plain. I can take or leave the flood plain, ideally leave.  Also, there’s only a 33% chance that it’ll flood before the Council institutes flood precautions.  That’s not the worst odds I’ve ever heard.

Also I think looking at houses brings out all the most oppositional qualities in our natures.  I’m always some giddy kipper exclaiming over period fireplaces and H is always “dude, this room is really small. Today’s discussion went something like:

Me: Oh, it has so much character, I love it

H: Is that … A RIVER down there?

Me: It’ll be fine, it’s at the other end of the garden.

H: Dude, our gardens abuts A FUCKING RIVER.

Me: But it’ll be lovely in the summer.  We can sit there, drinking cocktails.  We could get our own punt.  Or a canoe.  You could row to work!

H: We’d be living on a river.

Me: But I love the river!

H: You will not love the river when it’s in the kitchen.

And, yeah, I probably won’t. But I’m sure there are, like, things we can do.  Or something.  Anyway, I can fret about it if one of the offers gets accepted, which doesn’t seem entirely likely because they were both my extra special ‘there’s a river right there’ rate.

Although, secretly, I do kind of love that the river is right there – I know flooding is bad, I’m not an idiot, but I have always absolutely adored houses with gardens that run directly down to a river.  When I’d just finished my first degree and basically had no job, no money, and very few marketable skills, and I’d just broken up with the love of my life, I spent a while living in this … well … okay the building was later condemned by the Council, so that’ll probably tell you what is like.  A derelict Victorian pile on an island, basically, with only occasionally running water and no central heating.  The rooms were rented out on an individual basis and they were pretty cheap because, heh, they were shite, and there were no facilities.  I had a ground floor room with floor-to-ceiling windows and severely rising damp.  The walls were brothel red, where they weren’t mottled with mould, and there were deep pits in the flaking ceiling were a chandelier once used to hang. I had to light it with candles because there weren’t any other light fittings.  And the only furniture I owned (and could afford) was this enormous baroque bed. It was ghastly and I loved it.

But I used to lie there, on my ridiculous thread count sheets (because I am, and have always been, the sort of wanker who would clear out his bank account for a single bottle of champagne rather than, y’know, buy food), watching the sun rise and the mist curling over the mirror, smoking myself silly and, y’know, angsting my heart out.  Because I was 21, and that’s the sort of lifestyle you practice when you’re young enough to get away with it.

And, whatever it gave me (incipient consumption, I suspect), it also left me with an abiding love for being close to rivers, and nearly ten years of trying to learn common sense can’t make a dent.

absurdity, indulgence

9 Responses to when I was young

  1. Issy says:

    You aren’t alone… I always wanted a house that had water at the bottom of the garden, although I only wanted a stream, I wasn’t ambitious enough to want a river… but I blame too many Enid Blyton books as a small child 😛

    • Alexis Hall says:

      I dream big, baby 😉 I mean, I guess, a stream would be better, and less likely to trash all our shit, but it’s not really an option…

    • Sarah Frantz says:

      For me it would be too much Anne of Green Gables, who always lived with a stream/river at the end of her garden. 🙂

  2. Susan says:

    I always think rivers/streams = mosquitoes and bugs. Lovely and peaceful in theory…until you’re eaten alive and scratching all over the place. 🙂

    • Alexis Hall says:

      Oh, it’s no so bad in England because the weather is temperate. As long as you’re not directly on the river, it’s fine. The depressed heart-broken bohemian house was directly on the river and the problem was not so much the bugs but the river rats. Now I quite like rats, I used to have one, but river rats are something else. They are HUGE. And very very like “you talking to me.” There used to be one who used to come in and just sit in the middle of our kitchen like he was saying “you wanna make something of it?” I tried to encourage his departure with a broom once, and he actually knocked it out my hands.

      • Susan says:

        Oh god…you LIKE rats? Rats are AWFUL! I am paralyzed with fear by them. Miraculously, I have lived in NY for over a year and have YET to see a rat here…although most people see them daily, hourly even. They sound a lot like your river rats…huge and badass and out to frighten little Asian women trying to live peacefully in the mean city. ha! I was going to google a picture of large NY rats, but my fingers LITERALLY refused to type it in the search box…I was that freaked out! Now I’m terrified about coming to your parts…if I run into a river rat w/ an attitude and a broom, I might pass out. 🙂

        *NOT a spammer – confirmed*

        • Alexis Hall says:

          Only by the river, I promise. The centre is town, and second floor flats, are completely safe from rats.

          Also, nice rats are not like river rats, or NY rats with attitudes. I don’t normally get on with animals, but rats are clever and affectionate and loyal, and don’t require endless looking after. I had a black one and a white one, called Banksy and Algernon respectively, and I sort of got stuck with them when a friend moved overseas and was like “dude, take my rats or bad things will happen to them.” I wouldn’t have *chosen* to have rats. But they grew on me, and I was quite sad when they passed away.

          • Susan says:

            R.I.P. Banksy and Algernon.

            …oh, which reminds me: in San Francisco there was a homeless lady who stood on the corner of a very busy street in Financial District. She had a luggage cart that had stacked tupperware (do you guys know tupperware across the pond?) Inside each tupperware?…a street rat…(*pause while Susan’s vomits just a little*). She’d stand on the corner with one of her street rats on her shoulder and scream at people “rats are better behaved than children!”

            God, I thought I had repressed those memories…*shivers*

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