Thursday, 19 April 2012

Bleary-eyed and blue

Did I say 'it never rains but it pours' yesterday?  Guess what - it gets even more melodramatic. 

Last night, being tired and stressed, I went to bed fairly early.  I was woken from a deep sleep at 11.30pm by the unmistakable sounds of someone moving around downstairs in the house.  I was alone, it was pitch dark, I was disorientated and terrified, almost paralysed with fear for a moment.  I forced myself to get out of bed, put on my glasses and put on the light, and I went onto the landing as noisily as I could and called out 'Who's there?' loudly.

It turned out to be Emil, my landlady's daffy Polish handyman, delivering tools and equipment for some of the planned renovation work.  I went back to bad, shaking with shock and adrenalin, and couldn't get back to sleep until 3am.  This morning I texted my landlady to ask what was going on and was told that Emil is starting the first parts of the renovation work (installing a second toilet under the stairs) next week.

She has never paid any attention to the stipulation in the tenancy agreements I and all the other tenants have had about always notifying us and agreeing an acceptable time for a visit; she and her plumbers and odd-job men have always just rocked up unannounced and let themselves in (the previous handyman even used to come into the house to use the loo if he was passing through the area, rather than going to the public toilets near Sainsburys). 

But this was a really unpleasant experience that left me feeling very vulnerable, threatened and pressured.  I feel it's bordering on full-on harrassment.  So I am going to have to go back to the Citizens' Advice Bureau this afternoon to try and get more specialist advice on my position.  

Dear God, please solve this for me; I am not doing too well at solving it by myself.  I need help.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

It never rains but it pours...

My bl**dy landlady is now putting pressure on me to be out by the end of this month, as she has booked builders to begin the renovation at the beginning of May!

She is totally out of line, but she could make my life very uncomfortable.  I have never had a dispute with a landlord before (apart from that ridiculous business with Stuart in 2007, which was purely personal [his new girlfriend objected to me] rather than a tenancy issue).  I've never dreamed of having to fight for my rights and I really resent being put in this position.

Carrying on looking but nothing suitable as yet.  Grrr...

Monday, 16 April 2012


It's been an interesting week.

On the Thursday evening before Easter I was given one month's notice to quit the place I've been living for the last three years.  Only a short while before the landlady had asked me to help her find new tenants for the empty rooms by advertising them at Kew.  Then she sent me a text message to say the house is going to be renovated and giving me notice.  Gulp.  There went my four days of relaxing; replaced by four days of trying to relax and worrying non-stop.  One month is not long, to find a new place, in London.

But I went to the Citizens' Advice Bureau with a query about how to deal with the rent, as I'd been given notice partway through a rental period, and discovered that I can't legally be given just one month's notice; I have a periodic assured shorthold tenancy, and this means I have to be given two months' notice.  However, my attempt to confirm with my landlady that this is understood and accepted has so far gone unanswered (& boy, was that a delicate letter to write! - I really don't want to seem to be being awkward as I want a civilised departure, not to mention a reference and my deposit back).  At any rate, I'm now assuming that I have two months to find a new home - taking me into mid-June.  I'm on annual leave at the moment so am focussing on trying to make some progress on the problem.

I had got myself teamed up with another person working at Kew who was also looking for new digs, and we were looking for a two-bedroom flat.  But this morning she pulled out of the arrangement.  So I'm back to looking for a house-share or a flatshare, or a studio flat for myself.  Oof; it's a stressful business, and I hate moving.  The only good thing is that it has spurred me into doing some turning-out, which I really did need to do.  I'm delivering a lot of clothes to Oxfam and the local Hospice Shop; I can't afford to give as much money to good causes as I'd like, but clean, good quality clothes will raise a few quid for them, any way. 

I shall be so sad to say goodbye to the garden at Flanders Road.  I've been very happy in this funny, run-down old house, and having a garden to tend has been a blessing.

Big sigh...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Crikey, a month since I wrote anything!!

I seem to be forever saying “I’m so busy!” lately.  But tomorrow is Good Friday, which means church for my church-going friends and for the rest of us, a four day weekend.  Oof. A chance to catch my breath...

I worked through my lunch break today; but it was the first time in over two months that I have done that.  In the previous job I had to do it two or three times a week.  The new job remains refreshingly structured and organise-able compared to the old one, too.  And my new manager Paul still hasn’t shown his Dark Side – if he has one, which I am beginning to doubt.  So busy or no I am feeling decidedly cheerful about work. 

Of course there is the odd chaotic group planner, and the odd startlingly rude one, and as always from time to time I have IT problems.  Next spring is going to be a harder sell than usual because we don’t have our regular Trop-Ex tropical flower exhibition in February, which is a great pity.  And the weather has turned chilly after a beautifully mild March.   So it isn’t all shiny, but shiny enough for now.

But Kew is looking lovely, with delicate new leaves opening everywhere, glorious displays of magnolias and crab apple blossom, the first cherry blossom, early lilac species and azaleas, and great banks of native fritillaries near the river; and my own little bit of garden in Chiswick is looking lovely too in its more modest way.   I have been busy outside of work with sketching (I’m having a real fit of duck-drawing) and sewing, and tidying the garden, and I’ve been to the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy (wonderful: if you possibly can, go!) as well as two very enjoyable mixed bills by the English National Ballet and a couple of excellent concerts, including Britten’s “War Requiem” with Mark Padmore, the chap who was at school with my brother Steve, a heart-rending tenor soloist. 

ENB are in good form, though I managed to get rather a lot of Dmitri Gruzdyev, a dancer I find dismally uncharismatic, both nights – I would much prefer to have seen pretty much any of their other men as Nijinsky’s Faun, never mind as Balanchine’s Apollo – I don’t mean to sound bitchy, but Apollo he ain’t!!  The three Muses I saw were lovely, though, and Erina Takahashi was a terrific sacrifice in “The Rite of Spring”.  David Dawson’s “Faun/e”, a new piece on me, was gorgeous despite the men’s silly “will it fall off or not?” costumes, and “Suite en Blanc” looked even more luscious second time around.  

Steve, incidentally, has got his plaster cast off and is progressing well with physiotherapy.

A ray of watery sun has just filtered through the clouds; may it be a good omen for the weekend ahead! 

Against the blanched white clouds
Where last month there were only
Dark branches like scars, now
Everywhere I see shivers of green. 
Birds sing, or hop scuffling
Among the flashing celandines.
The swans stake out their usual demesne
By the lake, and a thousand coots
Chase one another like ninja chicks
Across the grey spring waters.