When I picked up the keys to the house on Friday 30 January, I was excited. I was expecting the place to be clean and empty, apart from the furniture the previous owners had kindly agreed to leave us. On the boat, the furniture is all fitted, so we have none we could take with us.
I was disappointed: the house was neither clean nor empty.
I found, amongst other things:
- a clothes horse;
- an undefrosted freezer, with more ice than there should be;
- a paint-spattered cap hanging on the coat rack;
- cleaning products galore; obviously none of them had been used recently;
- kitchen bins;
- used dish cloths hung up to dry on a dirty washing-up bowl;
- a plastic tub of batteries;
- chopping boards;
- a huge pepper mill like Ainsley Harriot’s Percy Pepper pot;
- a water filter jug with water still in it;
- an electric kettle with water still in it;
- a jar of tea bags;
- handwritten instructions for how to fry batter to make pancakes. I already know how to make pancakes;
- peach kernels in a drawer;
- a packet of Lockets so old they were oozing through the packaging;
- a lot of red elastic bands in a drawer;
- jars of pickled things: could’ve been onions; could’ve been eyeballs;
- litter and rubbish;
- dead insects on the windowsills and lace curtains; mainly flies, also a butterfly;
- a floor candle holder with dead candle;
- video tapes;
- a gift box with sugar packets in it;
- two beds, which we wanted; we didn’t want what I found on the beds:
- an old lady nightie; and
- used tissues poking out from under the pillows;
- bog brushes. If there’s one thing worse than a bog brush, it’s someone else’s bog brush;
- a used bar of soap;
- an ancient, massive CRT telly and stand;
- a halon fire extinguisher; halon fire extinguishers have been banned in the UK for over a decade, and should all have been decommissioned by the end of 2003. They’re permitted only for certain specialist operations now by, for example, the military; and
- a book of perfect Masonic ceremonies
I’m not sure why the previous owners haven’t managed to get rid of all this stuff: it was put on the market in September, giving them four months to clear it out and clean it up.
I have spent much time sorting this junk into black plastic bin liners and taking it to Milton tip.
I can barely lift the telly and I fear what it would do to Henry’s suspension. I imagine we’ll have to arrange for the council to pick it up, along with an armchair we said we’d have but I’ve since changed my mind about it.
I still have the halon fire extinguisher because the man at the tip refused to accept it. I buy a house; I break the law. Maybe the arresting officer will be in the Masons, and I can perform some secret ceremony on him to let me off.