CHIRPSES

HOME IS WHERE THE SLATZ IS

After twenty five years of living in the Smoke, I made the decision to finally up-sticks and fly the nest. My decision was based partly on practicality – being closer to work – and partly out of aspiration to the evergreen buzzwords of “self-sufficiency” and “independent living”.

I’m Slatz and this is the third in the series of my semi-regular irregular columns about my life.

After twenty five years of living in the Smoke, I made the decision to finally up-sticks and fly the nest. My decision was based partly on practicality — being closer to work — and partly out of aspiration to the evergreen buzzwords of “self-sufficiency” and “independent living”.

My destination; Harrow. The metroland, as John Betjeman described it. Vast suburbs linked together by the metropolitan tube-line. Provincial living with oyster card attached.

It took just thirty minutes for me and my dad to drive the 12 mile distance from my parents’ home – where I had been living – to my new address but as the clogged A-roads gave way to narrow suburban parkways it became clear that this wasn’t London anymore.

Pulling up our hired van outside the property, I pulled out my new set of keys and attempted to open the front door. The key went into the lock but wouldn’t budge. After trying various combinations of pulling the handle down and up and jiggling the lock, I gave in and rang the door bell.

A man opened the door and looked blankly back.

“I’m Slatz,” I said.

Nothing seemed to register with him. “I’m moving in today, I’m the new housemate,” I added, trying to convey the context for my visit.

Suddenly a familiar voice welcomed me from inside the property — the girl who I had dealt with when viewing the property who also lived there. After exchanging pleasantries, I began unloading my stuff to my room upstairs. A pile of bed clothes and a sleeping bag adorned my double bed. The girl apologised and removed them — someone else had stayed the night but had now left.

The room seemed extremely well lit and it quickly became apparent as I looked up that this was because there were no curtains, save for some thin lace ones. A brass curtain rail adorned the floor like some oversized ornament.

Forced to improvise as the sun began to set, I hung some duvet covers from the elasticated top of the lace where they have remained ever since.
I was assured that this would be sorted by the following weekend but as I sit here typing this in my second week here, the contrasting styles of a blue striped quilt cover and a red and white panelled duvet cover line the windows.

The girl then revealed that one of my housemates unexpectedly had some guests staying with him until the end of the month. Not really notable, I thought. Until I found out the guests were his wife and young child.

I had nothing against this in principal but memories from university of having a case race while watching Soccer Saturday or blasting out music at all of hours of the day seemed to take a back seat with the notion of a tot running around the place.

Nonetheless I put these thoughts to one side and me and Slatz Sr. drove to a local Tesco Express near a petrol station where I stocked up on food for the week ahead before saying our farewells.

The next day whilst preparing lunch, I was startled from screams and shouts from the bathroom. The housemate whose family were staying with him apologised for the noise, saying his daughter didn’t like showers. No shit, I didn’t retort.

A few days later a male housemate who lives adjacent to my room was playing his Xbox 360 in the living room. A stocky, young Eastern European with a slight mullet, he stated that he was only playing on the console as he hadn’t been correctly install the first-person shooter Counter-Strike on his laptop.

“In my country this is the biggest game,” he lamented, “But it is not working for me.”

He enquired as to whether I could help understand the complex English expounded in computer error messages. I quickly sorted the problems and successfully loaded up the game for him.

“Now it is time to fight!” he beamed. I told him I was unable to join in the battle as I had to shortly leave for work. “When you return, I will be dead because I will have been shot at so much!” he laughed.

When I returned eight hours later; he was still sitting in the same chair laughing as he snipered the AI controlled soldiers.

He turned from the screen, greeting me by saying “Welcome home, sir”. His address seemed overly formal but it rang through.

Welcome home.

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