Landlady: Social Climbing
It may surprise you to know that in the 16 years I’ve owned a flat in Hastings, I had never seen the rear of the building until yesterday. This is shameful, given the fact that I’ve administered the freehold for the last eight years. I suspected all manner of horrors were lurking behind, including a terribly virile skein of ivy which, in spite of the fact that it’s as dark as the black hole of Calcutta back there, has managed to creep its way to the top of the building. I did try to gain access in order to tackle the ivy about three years ago, but was met with a torrent of abuse from the basement tenant and a similar torrent of snarling from her hungry-looking pitbull. I therefore, probably quite wisely, opted to give it a miss.
Then, out of the blue, I last week received an email from a man in the house next door, suggesting that I might like to have a look at the rear of our building as he had scaffolding up, which would make access easy. He also tactfully suggested that there were some ‘issues’ which might need addressing.
Meet the neighbours and teeter around on the scaffolding
So, yesterday afternoon, I trotted off to Hastings to meet the builder, meet the neighbours and teeter around on the scaffolding, which was not how I wished to spend my afternoon off, preferring the cream horn and sofa option.
I was grumpy all the way there on the train, as I’d had to go directly from a gruelling kitchen shift at The Supermarket. But within half an hour of arriving, I was high up on the scaffolding in bright winter sunshine, shooting the breeze with my charming neighbours, who are gentle and interesting souls, owner-occupiers and painting the huge building themselves. They told me that a famous actress owns the top floor, and invites them all to her Tuscan villa every year… how Hastings has changed.
The builder, who came recommended by my letting agent, was equally eloquent and I’m sure he’ll tackle our ‘issues’ (dodgy render, poison ivy, flatulent facias, rotten roofing) with the greatest of skill. The charming neighbour didn’t even mind that we would probably destroy his beautiful, leafy, 3 metre high banana palm erecting the scaffolding, claiming that it grew from a foot high to a towering Goliath in less than three years. Clearly it’s been taking tips from the poison Ivy next door.