This is based on a series I’ve been reading on The Billfold which always makes me laugh. The last time I had to remember all / most of my addresses was when I applied for my NI number – which was about 10 years after I got to the UK.
Queens Road, Teddington (London), 1998 – £100 (sponging off of my kind aunt)
This was one of the best. I never realised I’d got it so good really. She worked at the airport and was rarely there. She also had an adorable small dog who I walked in the park opposite. I had the front room of the house which was basically huge and I lived in a state of extreme untidyness. I worked in a pub and then found a proper job in Richmond. I bought a car as well – it took me years to realise that a car was pretty much pointless in a city with brilliant public transport.
Broad Street, Teddington (London), 1999 -2000 – £200 at start, £400 when useless ex moved out.
This was a 3 bed flat above an expensive lingerie shop which had been cleaned and decorated before we moved in. Me, Useless Ex, and 2 other people rented it for a year. This was the first time I got stitched up on when getting a deposit back as the owner died, left it to his kids who decided that we’d destroyed the place afterwards (we hadn’t) and we were all young and foolish. It was one of the best places ever – on a busy high street, mini supermarket opposite, indian restaurant about 3 doors down and endless places to eat and drink there. We mainly drank at this stage and I have great and terrible recollections of frequenting an amazing place in Kingston called McCluskies. Useless Ex moved out about 8 months into our tenancy and all of a sudden the huge bedroom was all mine and I expanded into it. Awesome.
Surbiton Hill Park, Surbiton (London) – 2000 – £550
This was my first experience at living alone and I both loved and hated it. I was terrified of being alone in the house at night, but utterly loved having all my own space, knowing how much milk there would be at any given moment and generally choosing my own stuff. Defining features – a huge mint green sofa bed that smelled very strange (inherited from useless ex’s kind father) and the spiders. Basement flats are pretty epic for spiders and one weekend Liz came to house sit and left about 5 bowls upturned over dead spiders.
Short interlude where I went to stay with Useless Ex’s very kind family for 3 months, then moved into a bedsit in Teddington (previously tenanted by my mother) , a flat in Twickenham and a house share in Bristol.
Sandyleaze, Bristol, 2003 -£240 a month
This was amazing to me – such a cheap rent, space to part the car outside and loads and loads of room. I was earning London money and worked up in Thornbury – doing a very easy 35 hours a week. I didn’t know anyone in Bristol, having moved here to be with the useless Ex and broke up with him the week before I moved. I went to the gym a lot and got very slim. I had some very weird house mates here tho – a 20 year old girl whose parents had divorced and she was living alone for the first time. She was terrified and got quite depressed living by herself but managed to get herself together for the last 6 months. First boy tenant was utterly weird, never paid his rent which caused endless grief and obviously had no idea what he was doing with money as he either didn’t eat or just ate pasta with pesto endlessly. He never came out of his room and he obsessively cleaned the kitchen at all times. Which was both good and bad. He was evicted and we had a semi-famous Bristol footballer move in while he waited for the tenants of his plush central flat to move out. He was a sweetie.
Move random flatshare followed in Ashtead and Epsom and then finally, I moved into my own flat in Camden.
Arlington Road, Camden, London – £900 a month
This was the most expensive place I’d ever rented and was a lovely flat. 3rd floor, set into the roof, had a bright and airy lounge, smallish bedroom which I filled with a super-king sized bed and a neat little kitchen. I spend a very happy year here, working at the other end of Arlington Road. Downstairs lived 3 boys with directional hair and too-short trousers who were definitely in a band, and the ground floor was a great hairdresser. I got up for work at 8:15 and got home at 5:45. I saw a million bands, made loads of trips to European cities and was exceptionally happy. Eventually tho, the high rent, the homeless men’s shelter at the end of the road and walking outside to find half empty cans of Tennants Super on my doorstep got a little bit old and I moved into a flat share with the man who was due to become my sister’s boyfriend.
to be continued – Mornington Crescent, Surbiton, and Bristol.