Incurably Curious

How Not to Move House

Icon36--MovingHouseI left home for real a couple of weeks ago, which is why I’ve been a bit of a Slack Alice on the blog front recently. Turns out, moving house is actually REALLY time-consuming, expensive and fraught with frustration. Who knew? Anyway, things seem to be getting sorted out now, and I no longer have to wear a gas mask to bed to avoid getting asphyxiated from toxic paint fumes. Which is, you know. Nice.

Anyway, these are all the terrible things that happened in the last two weeks:

The Grime

When we arrived at the flat to check-in with the property, the letting agent looked me straight in the eye and told me with a straight face that the place had been professionally cleaned from top to bottom. Unless the cleaner had had no arms and no legs and had just spent the whole time rolling around frolicking with the dust bunnies, the place had been clearly untouched since the last tenants decamped (leaving – amongst other things – a television, about seven non-working bedside lamps and a lingering odour of mould in the master bedroom). After a certain amount of wrangling with the agent we were given a proper cleaner, who was called Sylvia and also Polish, which meant she really went to town on it. Even now, the inside of my wardrobe smells of Pine Fresh. She was one of these very jolly types, but her only downside was her refusal to accept that I wasn’t living with ‘two boyfriends’. I tried to explain that one was very definitely not interested in me (or any other women, for that matter) and the other has had an enormous question mark floating over his head for the eight years I’ve known him, but she wouldn’t have it. She winked at me so many times I ended up feeling a bit seasick and had to go and lie down in a darkened room for thirty minutes.

Although Sylvia managed to blitz 95% of the house with the terrifying efficiency that seems to come naturally to people whose forebears got utterly shafted by Soviets/Nazis, she wasn’t able to make even a dent in the countless layers of fossilised shit encrusted in the bowl of the upstairs lavatory. To date we’ve tried black tea, lemon juice, all sorts of bleach, limescale solution and specialist bog-cleaning products (amusingly called ‘Bloo Solid Rims’) but the best we’ve achieved so far is just permanently turning the toilet water bright blue, which although an improvement is not exactly the effect we were going for. Knight even brought back a two litre bottle of the dirtiest, nastiest cola he could find. If it could rot teeth and clean pennies, we figured, it could certainly do a half-decent job of dissolving human faeces. Not so, apparently, which just proves you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. The only thing we haven’t yet tried is vinegar, which is tonight’s option. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Paint Purge Palaver

Beside the grime, the flat didn’t come to us in brilliant condition. The person responsible for choosing and executing the colour scheme, who we can reasonably assume had an advanced case of cataracts, had selected various sickly, hospital-inspired shades with which to decorate with. In the interests of maintaining our sanity (and not being embarrassed to invite our mothers over), we decided to repaint. For starters, there was no way I could live with my bedroom’s existing paint job, a queasy combination of institutional yellow and an orange the exact shade of what I threw up once when I had Heinz tomato soup for dinner followed up with about a gallon of Smirnoff Ice (ah, 2005! What a classy year.) One of my other housemates had to deal with wall-to-wall baby blue, so I wasn’t the only person totally grossed out by the previous tenants’ abominable taste in home décor. I’ve never decorated anything before in my life because my mother is the kind of woman who won’t let anyone else near a paint roller and spends three weeks going round the edges of a room with a children’s face-painting brush every time she does a room. Compared to my housemates Ellis (the offspring of a professional carpenter) and Knight (the sort of person who not only owns eighty types of wrench but also takes delight in explaining to people how to use each of them), I am the most inexperienced in matters of the home by a country mile. It’s not even like I’m a budding DIY aficionado stunted only by the mother’s absolute refusal to let me do so much as clean the paint brushes; I have next to no interest in interior design whatosver. I probably wouldn’t even know Laurence Llewelyn Bowen if he rugby-tackled me to the ground, wrapped me in wallpaper and spat on my face.

So last Sunday morning I got up and started to mask off all the floor and electrical fittings with unfamiliar gusto; suddenly decorating seemed a lot more interesting now that the alternative was living in a Heinz-tinged vom-shack. With the help of my more able housemates the vile orange was purged and replaced with ‘Polaire’, a crisp neutral with cool, fresh undertones (i.e. white). Predictably, we soon discovered that as well as having no interest in DIY I also have no talent. I hope nobody has been keeping count of the number of brushes I’ve ruined by leaving them to go hard or cans of paint I’ve left to dry up by not putting the lid on properly; apparently I am a shining beacon of incompetence. I guess it’s just lucky the guys conform to stereotype and know pretty much exactly what to do whenever I fuck something up (which is practically every time I pick up a paint brush).

The Great Gloss Saga

Once the Polaire white paint had dried, it was time to crack out the gloss – the finishing touches (or so I thought). Turns out I’m as woefully ignorant of paint drying times as I am of poncy long-haired DIY programme personalities. My room has a sort of built-in shelving unit at one end, like a bank of cubby holes, but they were so stained and scarred by years of neglect and seemingly random drilling that I just thought I’d do the whole thing in Brilliant White Satin Gloss. Unfortunately, because the cabinet is made of such dark wood, it took about twelve coats to get it completely covered. I felt like Adrian Mole when he tried to paint over his Noddy wallpaper with cheap black paint and had to go over all the hat bells with a Sharpie. It was AWFUL. And the worst part is that gloss is just the foulest, most disagreeable substance known to man. It’s like white tar; you just CANNOT get rid of it. It’s oil-based so using water only makes it worse, and the only way to properly eradicate it from your skin is to really go at it with a nail brush soaked in white spirit. My inescapable clumsiness combined with a totally retarded decision to wear a vest top and little shorts for painting proved to be a recipe for disaster, and before long I was completely covered in the stuff. Even now, I estimate at least 4% of me is covered in paint.

Carla came round to help one day and fashioned a sort of jumpsuit out of bin bags and rubber gloves, which made her look like a fucking idiot (but also, in retrospect, a bit of a genius). I’d recommend going down that route if you’re thinking of glossing anything yourself.

The Mattress Fandango

As well as my ongoing gloss problems, the mattresses were also a massive problem. When we looked around the property we were told that the mattresses would ‘of course’ be replaced. Unfortunately we took this for granted and didn’t think to get it in writing, so when we arrived to find we were expected to carry on using the old mattresses – practically solid from years of dried sweat and goodness knows what – we were basically told to fuck off by the landlord when we protested and asked for new ones. We finally managed to get the council to pick them up yesterday, which means the rancid flea farms are now out of the house, but my new mattress still isn’t arriving for another ten days. Until then I am sleeping on an air bed on top of the divan. It’s generally okay, but seems to deflate rather quickly and last night when I rolled in completely blotto at 12:30am I was too out of it to blow it up so more and had to sleep like a starfish to distribute my weight evenly enough to not be touching the base. It’s definitely better than the scabby old mattress I’d be sleeping on otherwise though; I don’t know how old it was, but evidence suggests that the previous owner was an incontinent nymphomaniac who also suffered from a very heavy flow. Gross.

The lesson here? Get everything in writing and carry an emergency air bed at all times. You never know when you’ll be expected to sleep on a sweaty, pissy, blood-stained mattress.

The Egyptian Cotton Affair

To compensate for my shitty mattress (in every possible sense; I reckon there is at least a 50% chance that somebody had actually defecated on it at some point) I went a bit mental on the bedclothes front. I bought a whole set of crisp white bed linen and some goose down feather pillows. My bedclothes are probably now the very best thing about me (which would be a bit sad if you hadn’t ever slept on them – they are sublime. It’s like sleeping on a fat angel’s arse.) My housemate Ellis looked on enviously, and told me that actually I’d overdone it and that I’m going to have a bed that was too comfortable. I scoffed at him, mistaking his wise words for bitterness, but it turns out he is right. I now have a problem in that I absolutely cannot get out of bed in the morning. I had a day last week when it took me an hour. AN HOUR. Even my tried and tested technique of throwing myself out of bed like I’m suddenly on fire and lying on the floor for a bit in the cold doesn’t work. I need to sort it out; I can’t keep on being late for work like this. Any suggestions are welcome.

But, you know, of course it isn’t all bad. I mean, I’m currently as poor as fuck but the good things definitely outweigh the bad. I guess the rediscovered independence and twelve fewer hours a week spent commuting are the big ones, but best of all is not having to put up with my mother’s appalling habit of leaving used teabags in the sink. It’s bloody brilliant.

14 comments on “How Not to Move House

  1. Epiphannie
    September 27, 2012

    Loooool you make me laugh soo much!!!!! But I’m happy your hard work is for a good reason and I know you will be fiercely protective of your room for years to come loool Ill buy you a round to celebrate your moving house success

    • CuriousEmily
      October 3, 2012

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. Now it’s nice the landlord’s going to have a real problem getting us out; if they ever try I might have to write a blog post about claiming squatters’ rights…

  2. Becky | lifestyleflash.com
    September 27, 2012

    I could laugh but I feel your pain.

    One thing I’ve moved from moving house – ALWAYS get it in writing. Even then, don’t expect landlords/managing agents to ACTUALLY honour their word and/or give a shit (we’ve had the old mattress problem AND the ‘cleaning’ problem, at separate properties).

    Enjoy your new home!!

    • CuriousEmily
      October 3, 2012

      Thank you! I don’t mind about the mattress too much as if they’d provided one it would have been a cheap-ass £49 job but I bloody wish I’d known in advance so I wasn’t sleeping on an air bed. I’ve definitely learned my lesson now about getting everything in writing. Facepalm.

  3. Hannah (Palindrome Poppet)
    September 29, 2012

    hahahha! How the hell have you managed to have such a disaster prone move in?! haha I work part time at a letting agents and luckily it means we can steer landlords to treat people properly but occasionally there is landlords like yours!! Happy move in ;)

    • CuriousEmily
      October 3, 2012

      To be fair I think the letting agents were just doing their job, but the woman who actually owns the property sounds like a champion bell-piece! I think we’ve sorted it though, and I’m now gloss-free. :)

  4. Maria
    October 1, 2012

    Luckily when I moved we only had a few problems (one of them was the landlord telling us that the rent was £40 more a month than we had agreed ER NO) but since then I have had to pester our agent… VERY jealous of your comfy bed too, I have the same problem!

    Maria xxx

    • CuriousEmily
      October 3, 2012

      Jesus, really!? That would really suck – at least you managed to sort it out though…? Our agent originally misread our electricity meter by about 5000KWh – lucky we checked. Don’t be jealous yet, it STILL hasn’t arrived!

  5. Marc
    October 1, 2012

    The mattress fandango is pure genius! Hope Knight isn’t driving you too insane, give him a slap when he gets outta line, that should sort him.

    • CuriousEmily
      October 3, 2012

      I’ve warned him I’ve had permission to slap him and he looks suitably afraid. ;)

  6. typeandtalk
    October 17, 2012

    Oh I do love you emily!

    Anyway for the loo you need harpic… the original one and lots of it. Sounds like ‘dried in limescale over the years’. I don’t know how people can live with them like that! also try those overnight toilet tab that fizz away, i know for a fact that gets rid of stains!

    the mattress thing is VILE. they should also way steam-cleaned between tenants if not replaced.

    • CuriousEmily
      October 22, 2012

      Oooh, thanks for the tip! The lav is still as shitty as ever so I’ll pop out and buy some Harpic on the way home from work. :)

  7. Moor
    March 3, 2013

    Landlords. Hah! Don’t trust any of them. Ever. My opinion of them is that they make the Kray brothers look like angels.

    • Natalia Brady (@natalia_brady)
      June 6, 2013

      I’d trust a landlord over an estate agent. They’re the devil.

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This entry was posted on September 27, 2012 by in Lifestyle, Things That Make Me Furious and tagged , , , , .

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