By Antonio Castellano
I haven’t planned to write about this story but a lot of my classmates asked me to type all it down in a SCAB because it is paradoxically so funny. So here I am. All these facts really happened, unfortunately.
I start saying where I am from. I lived in Rome almost all my life. My house is really big, it has 4 floors 2 gardens and a lot of rooms. It is very quiet and gorgeous. So yes, I may say I have high standard of living.
I came here in London 3 weeks ago. I spent the first 2 weeks in a sublet room. The flat was in the ground floor. The first night at 4 am a strange guy knocked at my window. I said “un attimo, arrivo!” (One moment, I’m coming!), thinking I was still in Italy. Then I realized what was happening. I also heard another guy talking, they started punching and swear each other. That situation was so weird that I just force myself to go back to sleep and pretending to realize that the next morning. Aside from this episode and a fox skull in the garden, I had a nice time there and the flatmate was very good.
From the first day I came here I have been looking for a room to move in. I responded to 50 rental ads. I just got 5 reply. The funny thing is that I am truly a good flatmate. I’m quiet, very clean and friendly. I am looking for an ensuite room with decent window frames near Brixton. I saw a lot of rental ads and, among them all, my fav one was one we will call Dishwash. It was just the perfect one for me, and I got a reply too! It was a room to share with an 31 Australian girl named Nancy. I’ve never been able to talk to her, I messaged with Adam, the roommate who was going to leave. He told me that I could come to see the flat the next day, Thursday, or in Sunday. I chose Sunday for several reasons even if I planned to go to Brighton that day. Sunday I texted Adam to give me the address but he didn’t reply. I tried to call him too. I waited for a message from him all evening long. I was so naive. I didn’t expect some British people were so rude.
The days passed, I saw a couple of more flat. One was suggested from some Italian priests in Oval. The landlord was a 90 years old Italian woman who married a man who is treated as shit from her. The first time I saw them they looked funny, they seemed to belong to some episode of Mr Bean. The room was basically a studio, 2 and an half rooms. It looked a bit dirty but the price was good. I viewed it in the late evening it looked decent. I had no other reply from other ones so I took the this one in Oval.
Even though it was more expensive and it was not a studio, in my heart there was only Dishwash. Even if I’ve just seen it on internet I fell in love with it because it had everything I needed. When I felt sad I wrote to my shitty friend Adam, asking update about the room. He hadn’t replied me so I didn’t know if the room was still available or he had just had a change of mind about me. I also asked him to Nancy’s number to be able to talk to. Nothing. I wanted to convince her to meet me at least and decide after. How can you say no to someone who is telling to be a perfect flatmate if you have never met him? If the room wasn’t taken than I could have tried to convince Nancy, maybe bringing to her a plate full of my perfect pasta bolognese.
I knew her first name, the age and the nationality. I tried the only way I had. I downloaded Tinder looking for her.
In the meantime I moved flat in Oval. The more I looked around the rooms, the more I saw dirtiness. But I thought that it would have be fine after an hour of cleaning. It was Saturday night, 10 days ago. I went to dance with some classmates. I returned into the flat at 4 in the morning. It was freezing but the OL (old landlord) told me the room was the most warm one of the house so I thought “no problem”. But there was. The window couldn’t be closed completely. I spent 30 minutes trying to close it. At the end I filled the gap with tissues. I froze. I slept 3 hours. And in the morning I had a letter under my door saying “you flooded my kitchen! Don’t use your bathroom!!!”. Wow, what an amazing start. That day was horrible. It was Sunday so none could come to fix the problem. At least the OL managed to close the window. There was a proper technique to do it that only her knows. I went out to buy something to eat. It rained all day, I got wet and the was also a cold wind. I came back into the flat, I tried to cook something but the stove made just a weak flame. It took me one hour to cook some peans… Then I started washing my hand but the water from the tap became orange and full of dust. I called the OL and she said it was normal because nobody used the sick for months. The water turned normal again. I took a picture of the tap from under. You can check the photos down to see it.
Dishwash kept living in my mind. Every day I saw the flat while I’m going to school. I kept using Tinder but I couldn’t find Nancy. I have been regretting I haven’t gone to see the flat on Thursday rather than Sunday because probably it was taken that day. I wanted to put an end to that situation. I planned to understand if the flat was already taken so that I could say farewell to Dishwash. I asked help to Lucky, a lovely classmate. I made her write to Adam pretending to be a girl looking for a flat. During the same day I wrote him if I could have the room If I had paid an extra £50 each month and he finally replay after almost 3 weeks. He said the flat was already taken and the next flatmate had already paid the deposit. He replied to Lucky as well saying the same thing. Farewell. </3
Back to the new flat, I started cleaning everything. I haven’t finished yet. It is so dirty it takes me an hour to clean just a corner. I didn’t take any pictures of the most dirty spots because I was focused on cleaning. But trust me, that grease was years old. The only friend in all the dirtiness was my cleaning products. I’m fidelize to Dettol. It has been with me all this time, cleaning all the flat. Everything in that place showed up to be bad and old. There were stains in the most unexpected places I could be able to check during the first viewing. Why haven’t they cleaned it? I asked to OL and she said that I was just too picky and the last guy who lived here was young and he didn’t clean… wow. Great answer.
I wanted to have the password of Wifi, at least. I haven’t met the guy downstair. I know he was 40, italian and gay, because the OL said “he’s such a lovely guy, he has just a problem: he is of the other side”. He doesn’t seem to be a nice guys, he wrote me that bad letter the first day I moved in. Anyway I couldn’t be able to contact him for days, I wrote a letter to him asking the password, I went down knocking at his door, I also spoke to him at the front door while he was going to work but he avoided me. “Such a lovely guy”. Finally after a week I met him. We spoke a lot, he told me that the internet was so slow that he can’t nearly use it alone so it impossible to use in 2 people. He gave me the password and basically it was like not having internet. It took minutes to load a website. Wow, another good news from this flat! He also told me how bossy the 90 years old OL was and how he was planning to leave from the house as soon as he would have had a new job. He informed me that OL’s husband usually collect stuff from the street that probably use and share and I should have been aware of it. In fact when I asked to the OL for a colander she gave me one so deeply dirty, painted red by some liquid or I don’t know what. I’ve never used it lol. But the worst thing he told me was that the OL and his husband usually went inside his room, moving and using some items around. He once saw them eating his chocolate bar. Anyway, I start thinking I was wrong about that guy, he seemed like a victim of that house as well as me. But…
The next day I met him by a change on the street. He asked me to share our phone numbers so that I could write him if I needed any help. “Ok”, I thought. The next morning, while I was having my breakfast, someone knocked at my door. I opened and it was him. Naked with just his underwear. Asking me if I wanted to do some exercise with him “at the park”, he added a second later. I decline saying I had to go out for shopping. He told me he could escort me. What a situation… Come on! I thought it was an ally! I went out alone and then I texted to him that I was going to my girlfriend flat (just a white lie to make him understand I don’t like him). He texted “fuck her hard so that I can hear her screaming from here”. I’ve never wrote him back.
I started setting some “traps” around the flat to check if they went in when I was not there. I have always locked the door with the key but they have another key so it’s quite useless. I still set these traps because for two times they told me they went in and they used the bathroom too. I complaining and she just said she let one of her guests using the bathroom. I complain and she said she won’t do it anymore…
So basically there isn’t almost anything good there. During the night it’s so cold. I asked for more blanket an the lovely OL gave me 3 more but they are more like tablecloths. I have been sleeping with a warm uniqlo undershirt and 2 pajamas. I haven’t stop looking for a flat from when the nightmare started two Sunday ago. I don’t get replies, so sometimes I write to them again begging to meet me once at least before declining I’m not right. I’m a good flatmate! I’m cleaning all this freaking flat! For free!
Anyway, unfortunately I haven’t told you the worst part. Last Sunday I started writing this SCAB, I was in the flat typing and reliving all that sad adventure. During a break I went to the toilet to wash my teeth and the water for the tap turned orange once again. I was SO upset inside at that time. I knocked at OL’s door several times but she didn’t reply even though she was there, I could see the light and the TV sound. So I called her at the phone. I told her the problem calmly, she came into my flat to check I wasn’t lying. She just said “I can’t explain why the water from this tap is orange and from the other one is clean because it is the same water”. I asked her to just call a plumber. She refused. It went on for 20 minutes. I was always polite. She ended up saying. “If you don’t like here fuck off!”.
I was shocked. A 90 years old lady from Italy just said me to fuck off when I gently asked her to call a plumber for a problem in a flat I’m paying for. I said to her that I pretend apologies from her but then she said she never spoke like that. I asked her to get out and leave me alone. It was a nightmare. It was just a joke. It’s already difficult to move in another country away from your friends and family, to stay in a bad flat freezing every night. All of these things, one after another.
My research for a decent flat haven’t finished yet unfortunately. But it will, sooner or later. The bad thing is that I haven’t been able to find my comfort zone so that’s means I’m feeling like I’m always out and it’s harder for me to give the real 100% of me to the school yet. But I will.
That night I couldn’t be able to complete this SCAB but I’m doing now, two days later. I’m inside SCA studio, alone, waiting for the security man to come and lock it. I do like this place. I already know I will like even more during this year, and in a blink of an eye it will be july and I’ll miss all these sofas and chairs. These mugs and these tables.
I’m here alone in the third floor studio of a church in Brixton.