“Oh!” I exclaimed, the disappointment and surprise in my automatic response transparently obvious, “there’s no window.”
When I found this vacant room on Gumtree.com in a six bedroom house share it appeared ideal. Cheaper than I was willing pay with all bills included in the weekly price, no bond required, great location, friendly flatmates, and a large room with a double bed. As I made my way to North Acton station, I couldn’t help but be excited. And a little smug. It seemed so easy, so…perfect. Just like the rest of my experience in London. The horse shoe I had up my butt was apparently still securely lodged.
Four years ago when I went to visit my sisters in London, North Acton was where they were living. And since I ended up getting sick while I was there, I spent most of my time exploring the area. I felt a strange sense of familiarity when I arrived at the station. It was the same, but now, as a slightly seasoned Londoner, the fear of the confusing tube line and scary street traffic was no longer a concern.
As I walked along Horn Lane towards the flat, I thought about how strange it was to feel a connection to a place that was so far away from home, a feeling that I also had in Thailand at the train station in Bangkok. By the time I had left, I had stopped at the station at least 8 times. I fell in love with the fried chicken sold by women with limited English and still salivate at the memory of the pepper and shrimp sweat buns.
The flat was easy enough to find. Located about 10 minutes up the road from where my sisters used to live. I knocked loudly and then rang the doorbell. I was greeted by a nice looking man. In his 20’s. With a slight South African accent. He showed me to the room. It looked just like the pictures, except the one wall where there should have been a window was boarded up with a large piece of particle board. And the walls were concrete. I heard my mother’s voice as my excitement deflated instantly, “a concrete death trap!”, she muttered in my head. I looked at him, unable to disguise my horror, “my mother would absolutely kill me if I lived in a room with no window”.
I let him show me around the rest of the house. It was tidy, but well loved, to put it nicely. He showed me the bathroom with the shower and I gasped as he turned on the light. Two, bright red, bloody handprints confronted me on the white shower curtain. I laughed nervously, “um…nice?”
I told him that I would think about it and email his girlfriend the next day.
Then I ran home.
I huddled up under my white lovely sheets, in my lovely room, in Alayne and Daragh’s lovely flat, in lovely Notting Hill and vowed to never leave this lovely place ever again.