The darkness is closing in, and days like today are getting more and more precious. Especially falling on a weekend. I woke up in Hampstead in order to take photographs of appliances. Going out in the late morning sunshine just past the entrance to the heath, I felt like I was at a football match. I’m still more used to my solitude than to crowds. I felt a bit panicky, surrounded by all the summery shouting London people. I got a coffee and retreated once more into the cold dim flat.
The flat in Hampstead is still accessible to me even though the landlady has changed the chubb lock and told me about it. She could lock me out on a whim if she wanted, but for now she’s leaving it open. My friend is still in NZ though and I’ve decided to proceed as if she’s never coming back. This means I have to get increasingly intimate with her stuff and with her erratic and illegal landlady. Right now it’s a charm offensive as if I were to annoy her she could easily make things harder.
I’ve got a few boxes now. Useful boxes. Next Saturday is going to be all about putting things into them, and next Sunday will be ferrying them to storage. Like with selling other people’s antiques, I think this process at one level of remove is extremely helpful in guiding me towards a practical understanding of what I need to do in my flat.
“It’s a clear job, really,” I find myself saying. “If I were that landlord there’s only one thing I’d need to do. I’d just empty it, gut it and get the whole place turned over. New layout. New wiring. Sort the plumbing. It’ll be expensive. But fuck it’ll be worth it.” Then I hear myself, and realise I AM that landlord in Chelsea, and realise I have known that about my own flat for a decade and more and just brought in another load of hats and capes. It’s ALWAYS easier when there’s a separation. It’s useful for me to have these thoughts about a place that isn’t mine, as it might help finally smash the block I’ve had on sorting out my own place. So much to do. But doing these things we have allowed to sleep for ages sometimes feels Sisyphean. Starting is so often the hardest part. That’s always been my issue. I don’t enjoy the beginnings and the endings, but I love it when I’m just swept up in the middle.
My ghost walk in Hampstead starts next week. There’s a few happenings before it kicks off and I am keeping my head organised. But meantime, if anybody – ideally in North London – wants and has space for a York Fitness Velocity Cross Trainer (working? Not working?) I’ll deliver it to you next weekend for a tenner. If not it’ll go on eBay for a week and then freecycle. I know it’s her’s as I carried it down a road and into a black cab in Farringdon about ten years ago. Now it needs a new home. The mechanism still works but on a brief inspection I couldn’t make the display switch on. But this is the sort of thing I’m having to sort out.
There’s that, there’s the barrel of a Champion masticating juicer. The washer-drier is subject to a custody battle so I’m not getting involved. There are tables. A comfy sofa bed that I slept on for about a month once. God knows what else. I’ve got carte-blanche to sell everything electric from my friend. The landlady, incomprehensibly, wants to keep some things. I honestly think that if she really wants to turn the flat into money she can’t go half cocked. Gut it. Fill it with NEW. Rent it to some unimaginative bastard. Profit. But then I’ve lived years in a flat that essentially IS a red wine stain. Right now that prime Chelsea real estate is full of ghosts, strange antiques, things with faces and costumes. I need an Al to sort through it dispassionately and plan moves in advance and then stick to the plan… Maybe this will be the learn I need.
I still think it’s a shit situation for my friend…