My soon to be ex-landlord is a strange, almost fraggle like, man. He lives upstairs with his wife and children and Will and I used to speculate about his excessive compulsive nature (the inventory for the flat included such gems as “three teaspoons – one slightly bent, two doormats – cut to fit steps”) until we discovered that he was on the board for the national Neighbourhood Watch Board. And then it all made sense.
With Will all packed up and gone I’m all alone in to face the music over the cigarette burn in the carpet (after explicit instructions from the mad fraggle never to smoke, either inside or out, because even outdoors the smoke could drift into an upstairs window) and the oily handprint on the bedroom wall. To explain either incident would mean revealing a little bit too much about my (now) defunct relationship for my liking so when I heard him walking down the stairs last night my first impulse was to run into the bathroom and hide in the airing cupboard.
I open the door. There he is all quivery, his white moustache leaping around his top lip.
“Hello… (He never remembers my name), sorry it’s so late but we’ve just got home. I’ve had a look around the place and everything seems to be fine.”
NB: because of the cold I’m wearing figure hugging wool Long Johns which he suddenly notices with a flinch. They’re a bit of a Scooby joke, because in recent history, I’ve got very drunk and leaped around in them much to the horror of anyone watching.
“I’ll come down and fix the handle of the fridge for you in the next few days. They never seem to stay on.”
I can’t quite believe that he hasn’t noticed the burn / stain. The Head Prefect in me wants to come clean about it but instead I lean against the door frame, nonchalant in my red and blue striped under garment. He twitters on about how difficult it’s going to be to find someone to take the flat and how sorry he is to hear about Will and I breaking up (my guess is that we’ve been a hot dinner party conversation for the past few months “Oh Sebastian, you’ll never guess. We have gays living downstairs! More sherry anyone?”). I’m almost beginning to like him when he looks despairingly at the three large bin bags, filled during Will’s big move, and clears his throat.
“And do make sure you put the rubbish up tonight. I talked to Will about the recycling but… (he sighs) with everything that’s gone on… Just make sure you put them up in time.”
Like I do every Thursday morning. On rubbish day. Stupid patronising fraggle.
We give insincere goodbyes and I shut the door before spontaneously executing a few wobbly pirouettes in celebration and knock over one of the chairs with a loud crash that I hope to hell he doesn’t hear upstairs.