As I come to the end of my first year here in London, I can sit back and reflect on how this tumultuous year has gone. London is not an easy city to move to and teaching in the UK is not the easiest of jobs to have a first year in, but I’ve made it out alive.
One thing that has been less than great here in London and which has added a massive strain onto my happiness and mental wellbeing is the rental market. Anyone in the know will be aware that London is a mine field of a rental market, notorious for dodgy, extortionate lets, paying 650 upwards a month for a room that is not fit to live in is not only not unheard of, but rather a commanilty that us hapless wannabe Londoners who aren’t lucky enough to have parents who already live here to save us the experience of paying a good proportion of our monthly salaries on a shit hole.
My experience is no different but needs to be shared for catharsis and also to bloody shine a light on the London housing crisis, highligting but one experience on the weatlth of shit that is out there.
The end of my year will see me moving for my third time. Each time moving for very different reasons. My first experience was in a shared flat in an ex-council block in Hackney. Four of us shared the flat, including the landlord and his lovely docile Staffordshire Terrier. Everyone in the flat was laidback and of similar enough ages and the dynamics worked. That flat did not become a problem for me until I got to know the landlord a bit better and realised that he was neither cut out for the role of landlord, neither did he want to fulfil his role as landlord. The man, whilst being interesting and entertaining to talk to was a 38 year old child with a God complex. He never bought his own food and instead raided the cupboards of his tenants shamelessly. Whilst laughing that we are unlucky enough to pay tax. Silly law abiding peasants!
That was something I could put up with. Just. The other grating thing about his personaility was that he thought he knew everything and would patronise us by telling us after a conversation about our days at work, how we should have done differently. He knows. Because he is omniscient.
Again this was not even the most annoying thing, actually, his conversations about his 6 month stint at a temple in China, his retreat to the Amazon and the witch craft he admits to personally enocountering were bizarre and entertaining.
Even the fact that he would stay away for days at a time or go on two week trips leaving his beautiful dog to wait for him, presumably starve and look depressed did not put me off. We would walk her when we were in and make sure she had food. Not through any request from him. That dog was nigh-on neglected, not through a lack of love but through the sheer selfishness of her owners and seeing her everyday made us feel sad. And in the end knowing we had to leave her at his mercy made us feel sad.
The final push to leave was made when actual water started coming up through my carpet. Water that spread and did not stop spreading. Water that made the carpet damp and smell like wet fish. Every mode of communication he ignored. I then pulled my bed out to discover black mould that had clearly been there for years behind where I would lay to rest at night. Still no response. For over a month I had to get my socks wet on that carpet and live in that damp, mould infested room. What a prick. In the end I could no longer take it and felt I had to find somewhere else.
Which leads me to my next, equally shitty situation for opposite end of the spectrum reasons. I write this post awaiting to move out of the next hell hole and into what should be my haven from the outside world… More to come….