Last year my house wasn’t great. Yes, it was shelter, and I will forever be thankful for the various south-westerly storms it shielded me from, but it just wasn’t up to scratch – especially considering its Exeter price tag.
This cautionary tale begins in September 2013, as the major obstacle encountered became the electric meter – an invention I personally had no clue still existed. The trips to Saunders corner shop to top it up quickly started to drag, but the real struggle came whenever that meter hit zero, bleeping relentlessly and cloaking all in darkness. If lucky enough to happen at night, the only solution remained to wait for the return of natural sunlight to use the human gift of eyesight again, and get down to Saunders swiftly when it opened come morn.
In terms of interior, the kitchen came fitted with a beautiful carpet of slug slime, whilst the lounge was furnished with sofas lush only to retirement home standards, in a windowless room that could only really be likened to a cave. I don’t think I would’ve batted an eyelid if Smaug arose from that deep abyss of darkness.
Once jokes started to spread, others began to come check out our pad for a good laugh – this is not even an exaggeration. “Oh, I’ve heard about your house” became a frequent conversation-filler, whilst welcoming a newbie into our downstairs space was a great way to test the quality of their poker face, as they contorted a smile and assured us it wasn’t that bad.
All this may have been bearable had we been gifted with a landlord vaguely concerned and keen to help. But, alas, this elusive figure seemed to ignore all issues that arose, with the urgent point of conversation apparently being when we’d all go down the pub for a pint – a social event that I was passionate in avoiding. I was filled with even more confidence when the handyman revealed he had been using the downstairs room essentially as a sex dungeon for various hook-ups he’d been having over summer. A nice guy, with some not so nice stories.
So why did we go for this particular house, I hear you cry. Location, location, location, as Kirsty and Phil say (ironically, they would’ve run a mile) but also from growing panic while the clock began ticking, as we feared we were running out of time.
The moral of the story is: don’t settle, and make sure the landlord is a vaguely functioning being. I’m still growing accustomed to seeing milk in liquid form (since the fridge also didn’t work for the majority of the year, nor the replacement) and am still realising that an Exeter property can in fact provide a steady flow of hot water. Our old address still gets the odd nostalgic shout-out, prompting laughs and winces of pain, but we do look back on it fondly in a weird way… Plus, I’ve heard tales of dead rats in sink cupboards and poisonous mould consuming the walls, so maybe my abode was a pretty humble one after all…
James Pidduck, Online Comment Editor