Hampstead Walk

And so back to Hampstead. The difference a year makes!

This time, a year ago, I met some new people and I was indoctrinated into a slightly odd walk for Halloween. We were going around being creepy in Hampstead. We did it and it was glorious. At the time I was just transitioning out of Mel’s Flat up there. I was still trying to use it and keep it in good nick, but somebody oblivious to the practicalities had filled the landlords ear with spurious figures. “On Parliament Hill? You could be getting a squillion squids! And she’s paying you how much?”

The boiler was fucked, but we worked around it. We could make it work and we knew what made it stop. It was liveable. The washing machine was fine so long as you know how to replace the fan-belt. The carpet in the bathroom was horrible with damp. My friend had dealt with a total lack of engagement and improvement from her landlord for twenty years. She spent her own money when she had to, but only when she absolutely had to, knowing that it was going to take years through the landlord and she’d never get anything back. I learnt from her by phone how to fix the washing machine and the boiler. She had made many DIY spot-fixes over decades of prompt rent, but the bulk of it the place was just bust – it needs gutting to justify the landlords behaviour. Insecure windows, crumbling grout, bad carpets and plumbing and lights… I lived there in the summer of lockdown though and it was beautiful, partly for the geography. Sadly the landlord decided she could get much more… I don’t think she will. I would lay money that she now has an empty flat. She was being baselessly greedy, and she made my friend homeless. A baseless and damaging gesture by someone who has never really thought about what they have for free.

A year ago though, I was still there. I was part of a team making a spooky walk around the heath. The walk is happening again. The locations are different. I’ll have to find / make up different stories. And I won’t have the wonderful common blood of working in Hampstead and needing to be there the next the morning as well to pack boxes, with a bed to sleep in over the gap. So yeah, October: anybody you can think of in Hampstead who might need a catsitter, send them me. I won’t be going to Uruguay until November and not at all if my current run of filming carries on …

Right now I’m home after a scout, and thinking of the difference between rolling home to Hampstead last year and going all the way to Chelsea now…

I took no photos but of this thing, one of many plugged into a wall. I’m just trying to work out what the heck it is… Our best guess is that it helps stop the ancient wall from bowing…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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