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I’m developing a literary obsession

I seem to be, in the course of this blog, returning to certain themes. It might simply be old age, or something deeper, more insidious.

However, I seem to be writing a lot about the places I’ve lived in over and over again. And even now I have it in my mind to write about where I live now.

So…I will!

I rented a flat in an ex psychiatric hospital in Clacton on Sea, my home town, when I returned from India last March. This might seem odd, but I actually wanted to get a flat in it and as luck would have, I got the chance. Even more strangely, it was the former employer (when it was still a hospital) of my step mother when I was about 12 or 13. Besides being the bitch who encouraged my dad to tan my arse with a slipper if I stepped out of line, and gave away all my belongings in an attempt to get me out of the house more, she was a nurse.

Yes, there is a bitter irony in there somewhere I know.

Her favourite line was telling me that she wanted to have me committed in her hospital because she felt I wasn’t normal.

No worries. My Dad left her in the end for an ex drug smuggler, 25yrs younger, and they both did a bunk to Australia where they married and 20 yrs down the line are still together.

My step mum never got over that or him in fact.

On an interesting side note, years later, my nan, that’s my dads mother, got put into a nursing home where after a brief stay, she died. And guess who was the nurse in charge?

Yep! My step mum!

Odd eh?

But the flat?

I moved in and the day after I got through the door one of those To The Present Occupier letters. I opened it to find that the owner of the property hadn’t been paying their mortgage for months, so the building society were repossessing the property and I had a month to find a new place. So, I chatted with my letting agent and they got me a new flat, right in the town. It was bigger, though had a few disadvantages, which sadly I found out after the 6 month contract was signed. Disadvantages such as no heating, half the lights didn’t work and a flat roof.

For those who don’t know, flat roofs are a problem, because especially in seaside towns like Clacton, seagulls tend to congregate on them on summer nights and hold drunken orgies.

My neighbours at the time were your standard Essex crowd, and with walls paper thin, I was party to almost everything they screamed at each other. In fact, for months I thought the guy next door was named CUNT, cos that’s all I ever heard his girlfriend call him. Luckily they vanished one day and things got considerably quieter.

But, a few months ago I woke and staggered to the kitchen, my head still fuzzy from sleep, to make my first cuppa of the day. On returning to my bedroom I noticed a huge bulge in the ceiling outside my bedroom, which I must have walked under only minutes before.

It was huge, so I did what people tend to do when confronted by such domestic abnormalities. I poked it.

It burst sending several gallons of collected rain water onto the hall carpet and leaving a three foot square hole in my ceiling. Which months down the line, is still there.

I’ve been assured by my landlord that it will be fixed in a month or two, and the buckets and saucepans now in permanent residence beneath it to catch the rain water are doing a good job so far. The problem grew when I came home from a night shift a few days ago and the few lights that actually work in my flat, that was two by the way, had stopped working, because water must have seeped into the wiring and is constantly shorting out the fuse box.

So, now, at the coldest time of year I have no heating, a gapping hole in my ceiling and access to my kitchen only during the hours of daylight. If I want to use the bathroom at night, I do it my touch alone and just hope I’m coordinated enough to not miss!

And I pay £450 a month for this experience!

Now you might say I’m mad to put up with this, as my flat grows more and more uninhabitable, but I tend to be rather pragmatic in these situations. I’ve lived in worse places and seen how others live in places like India and Africa, and so tend to lend toward putting up with things. But I have the sneaky feeling that the place is slowly falling apart around me, and it is slowly moving up my Top Ten of Worst Places I’ve Lived.

What to do? What to do?

Watch this space I guess for the next thrilling instalment of domestic bliss.


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