Monday, February 28, 2005

through the keyhole
Viewing one went smoothly enough but TA didn't like Battersea at all so the flat would have had to have been magnificent for him to agree to buy it. Of course, the flat was not magnificent, it needed more work than I remembered and TA kept muttering: "bad location, limited potential".
Viewing two, well viewing two was an experience. As Lloyd Grossman used to over enunciate: who would live in a house like this? It was filthy, stank of cigarettes, the kitchen and bathroom both begged to be completely gutted, the floors were covered in stained and matted carpet... I didn't look in the bedroom because the current tenant was asleep (it was three in the afternoon). We left the flat. I had a quick peak through the kitchen window of the flat next door and it really did look lovely, snug, but very smart. I cautiously said to TA, "well?" Excited, TA started muttering: "Great location, think of the potential". And I agree, Aldgate is a much better prospect than Battersea, but just think of taking on that amount of work - ripping out the kitchen and bathroom, redecorating the entire flat - and the associated costs. Are we going to be able to take on a project of that magnitude? My DIY skills and abilities have never been tested and I fear that TA simply won't have the time to devote to it. In the back of my mind were all of Ms Jones' house renovation blog entries. We went back and forth all weekend and I still have reservations. The asking price has already been reduced once, but we still want to put in a significantly lower offer. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

it's a date
Two months from today, or before, TA and I will be departing Badger Mansions. On 10 April, or before, Housemate C will be leaving us for the land of the stetson. So long cowboy, it was fun while it lasted. Sadness, anxiety and excitement: a strange cocktail of emotions. I'm queuing up for a rollercoaster ride.

Friday, February 25, 2005

it's not snow, it's risotto
Is the only quote from the Young Ones I can ever remember and comes to mind whenever the white stuff falls to the ground (frozen water, not overcooked rice).
We have two flat viewings tomorrow - wish us luck. I'm feeling pretty bleak about it all and to make things worse the risotto seems to be killing my crocuses.
home truths
Dear TA,
With a limited budget and a small deposit (borrowed from Badgers Senior, natch) it is not possible to by a warehouse conversion in the centre of town. And, no, it is also not possible to buy an unconverted warehouse/loft-type building in zone one - those were all bought in the early 1990s. What is possible is to buy a reasonably sized apartment in Middlesex (turn left once you're past the Milky Way) or a poky 'in need of refurbishment' flat in zone two. Yes that's right - zone two. Believe me I've looked for lofts and warehouses, but without a spare half million we're not going to be living somewhere like that anytime soon. And, no, it's not that I wouldn't much rather live in a suburb, I like the idea of urban loft-style living as much as you do. As to your fear that if we don't live within spitting distance of the West End our social life will disintegrate I offer two rebuttals: many of my friends live further out and we still see each other semi-regularly; and, since you are often moaning that you have no social life now, I hardly think adding the extra hurdle of a tube journey is going to make an appreciable difference. So, moving forward, where would you rather be: Battersea, apparently not going to the dogs quite as much as it appears (two tube stations each a 25-30-minute walk away), or Aldgate East, known by locals as twinned with whatever warzone is most in the news since the local brats have a nasty addiction to throwing fireworks at windows, in bins, through letterboxes (probably, although I've never actually seen this happen) and at each other, but at least the tube stations are close by and we could, were we feeling athletic, walk into town? Oh! And remember, we need to make up our minds soon.
Why do people say buying is stressful?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

the three little pigs
A new drama comedy set in central London (for the time being)
dramatis personae:
Little pig one, played by Badgergirl, is a young, hip girl about town
Little pig two, played by the animator, is a young, hip Australian
Little pig three, played by Housemate C, is a young, hip American dude
(All the little pigs are handsome/beautiful, lithe, astoundingly intelligent and witty)
Wolf, played by nearly everybody else in this story

Little pig three has decided to jet back to his homeland for a few weeks. He'll be back but not for long since what he really wants to do is wear a big stetson and live in a town where all the apartments have pools and gyms. Little pigs one and two spend long hours discussing what they should do now that the third little pig has grand plans for a big apartment of his own (with pool, gym and stetson). "I know!" says the first little pig. "We'll find our own house! We'll buy it and it will be lovely." Little pig two is unconvinced and wants to stay within walking distance of Covent Garden. The two little pigs talk to a representative from the piggy bank and marshal their scant resources. Little pig one starts to search. Here's one she says: it has one bedroom is a 30-minute walk from Vauxhall tube. She visits it, the building smells of wee and the flat needs a huge amount of work. She visits another flat in the area that doesn't smell of wee, but still remembers little pig two's desire to stay near zone one and her heart quails. She visits a third flat - this one is in Finsbury Park and has three bedrooms. "What's wrong with it?" Says the worldlywise little pig. "Nothing," says the estate agent. "It's built out of concrete," says the owner. But the first little pig has fallen in love and keeps pushing - what kind of concrete? Surely it will be okay because it isn't a high rise. The man at piggy bank says "Yes!" It seems he used to work for Del Monte. The little pigs push a pile of imaginary pennies towards the wolves. The man at the piggy bank calls back - "No! Stop! I gave them the address of Badger Mansions - a house made of bricks - your new house might look strong but these large panel slat (LPS) concrete houses are fragile. This is a straw house and the bank is wiser than you - we won't lend you any money to buy a house made of straw."
Piggy two is secretly relieved. He has found his own house in Marylebone, a one bedroom flat in need of modernisation. It is a brick house he says proudly. Look at the picture! Piggy one agrees it is indeed a brick house. But wait! Read the small print! The small print says that the leasehold only lasts for another six years. Little pig one is sad, she tells Little pig two the bad news: "Your brick house is built on stick foundations. The Del Monte man from the piggy bank won't say yes to this."
In the next episode the little pigs continue their search for a house made out of bricks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

hope and hopeless
So, to recap on recent events in a way that is clear and yet protects non-bloggers' privacy:
  • Housemate C's parents were involved in seperate freak accidents while holidaying in South America, his Mum is on the mend but his dad is still very poorly
  • Housemate C has been offered a job in the US

After some consideration, TA and I have decided to attempt to become homeowners. Last week I looked at three flats. I fell in love with one - it was amazing: three bedrooms, lovely area, good transport, in good nick... TA looked at it at the weekend, he said let's go for it. We knew getting a mortgage could prove tricky because of it's construction, but the broker sounded hopeful. Today the broker said yes. We made an offer, it was accepted, things were moving fast. Broker rang back, actually no, no mortgage. Back to square one. Deflated.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

look, a post!
Life has gone completely bananas. Housemate C has had an incredibly tough couple of weeks and Badger Mansions is in upheaval. There will be news soon, but currently all is embargoed. Watch this space as they say.
Given that my mind is doing its best impression of a rodent on speed competing in the wheel-spinning Olympics, I'm more or less incapable of rational thought let alone composing a worthwhile blog entry. The lights are strobing and the person who is home is hiding under the bed. Sanity may return in a couple of weeks, but I shan't hold my breath and neither should you - I wouldn't want us both collapsing for lack of oxygen.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

putting the urban back into the UB
This week has been more interesting than most. On Tuesday I had a ‘team offsite’ where a senior manager (if you can, imagine an American mixture of David Brent and Nathan Barley) talked to the team about the Microsoft account, but first we watched a corporate video of said manager getting made over, it was called PR Eye for the Geek Guy. Sigh. After all the chalk and talk we were sent off in teams on a treasure hunt. We scoured Covent Garden for hours, it was dark, I was cold. I left my team members as they headed to the pub and met up with TA for a coffee. TA had been to hospital for more tests. We felt so sorry for ourselves we thought it necessary to treat ourselves to a restorative dinner of steak and chips washed down with a bottle of rather nice Rioja. We used to do this kind of thing loads when we were first dating and TA was working for a merchant bank, but now it seems like a real luxury to be able to throw caution to the wind and just go out because we feel like it. Strolling home we stopped off at the supermarket for ice cream. Ice cream, Baileys and an episode of 24 - nice.
Last night, however, we really went bonkers. I met TA outside the Curzon cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue after work. We bought tickets to the 11pm showing of Steamboy, a Japanese anime film set in industrial revolution England. With four hours to fill before the film started we should have gone home, but instead we found ourselves strolling through Chinatown and then in Leicester Square. Our naughty feet took us down the spiral stair of the Cork and Bottle. For three and a half hours we drank, ate, talked and watched the world go by around us. By the time we’d finished our coffee I was ready to fall asleep, but the night was not over yet.
The Curzon was packed with human oddities – I love the sheer wealth of difference you see on the streets of big cities. There were the geeky, nerdy guys – all pale sweatiness and black tee-shirts; there were the boho girls dressed in strange combos of bright green and red, beads and straggly hair; there were anoraks, literally; there were the slightly overweight computer programmers; dyke girls with bleached and savagely cropped scalps; there were the design boys with their thick black-framed specs; there was us.
We filtered in and found our seats. All around us the theatre was filling up. TA reached forward and flicked the ear of the man sitting in the seat in front. As his head turned I recognised the diplomat’s son that TA went to Central St Martins with. We’d not seen him for months; he’d been travelling, skiing. Small world.
The film was beautiful to look at and the story was engaging, but still I slept through twenty minutes of it. I woke up wondering why TA had the television on so loud and why I was still wearing shoes.
We walked home through the still busy streets of early-hours London. There was a woman trying to chat up three workmen – asking coquettishly why they were digging up the road at this time of night. There were the foreign students and backpackers for whom mid-week partying is de rigeur. And there was a car full of rowdy boys who drove past us at a crossing. One lary lad shouted to TA “Your girlfriend’s a lesbian!”. TA was bemused, but I thought it was hilarious. Birdsong had been audible as we walked past Russell Square, but as we got closer to home the poor time-puzzled birds’ song got louder, sweeter.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

salad days
Today's experimental salad: grated beetroot, apple, green olives, lemon juice and Cornish yarg (a cheese that comes wrapped in nettles). A bit of a messy salad, but not without virtue.
As for whether these truly are my salad days, well I'm feeling jaded not youthful and although much of this is due to inexperience of the job, somehow salad days still sounds inappropriately upbeat and delicious for how I feel. Perhaps wilted salad days, seen better days or congealed mashed potato days would be more accurate. Not good.