With Jessica’s death from multiple myeloma now a matter of time, Lindum House was sold in December 2006 and I began a return to London.
Using Chestertons, a national estate agent of renown, I had rented a one-bedroomed flat in this salubrious area of Central London. It was being refurbished. Despite my misgivings, during the six weeks prior to my occupation I was constantly assured that the work would be finished. It wasn’t. I arrived in the evening to be told I couldn’t take up residence because there was no gas certificate. Remaining firm I advised the agent to obtain one immediately because I wasn’t leaving. This meant a fitter making a hectic trip across London. A document was eventually produced. My furniture was to arrive in the middle of the night. I stayed put. There were no curtains or blinds. The shower and bedroom were full of builder’s rubble. A cupboard still contained a defunct boiler which I had been assured would be removed. Only half the new power points worked. A live wire was hanging loosely from a wall. I sat on one of the loos and was horrified to find a pool of water surrounding it when I got off. Neither of the WCs had been fixed to the floor. I decided to have a bath, turned on the hot tap and walked away. On my return the bath was full of cold water. The taps had been put on the wrong way round. To drain the bath took an age. Goodness knows why. The gas cooker was subsequently declared unsafe. I could have blown myself up. There was no splashback to the kitchen sink, and the kickboard fell off when I was nowhere near it. I could go on. However, you’ve got the picture.
Most of these problems emerged during the three weeks I was there. I would visit the agent with a supplementary list almost daily. On one occasion, when I said I’d had enough, the agent said she’d see if the landlord would release me from my contract. ‘Landlord release me!’, I screamed. I went into a high-pitched rant. When I’d finally finished there wasn’t another client in this vast open plan office just off Marble Arch. I’d cleared it.
There just has to be a washing machine in this story. Except there wasn’t. There should have been. But it never arrived. When I’d accumulated several bags of washing I gave the agent a choice. She could either pay for a visit to the laundrette or I would bring her my laundry and drop it in the middle of her office. She took the payment option.
The Newark removal firm had asked to arrive in the middle of the night because of anticipated parking problems. I left warning notes for the other tenants and waited up. The removers didn’t arrive until early in the morning when it was pouring with rain.
I then developed only my second bout of bronchitis. The first had been when I moved out of Amity Grove thirty five years before.
I eventually received a total refund and a very nice three-bedroomed mews house off Bayswater Road for the same price.