My Neighbours – The Good, The Bad, and, The Ugly Part 3

February 12, 2009 at 10:10 am Leave a comment


I lived in London twice. The first time was just after university. I moved because I had got a job in London. 1987. Twenty years ago. I had to share a flat with another bloke who had joined the Company on the same day as me, Simon. Simon was a drinker. He was a drinker who thought he was bright and was owed a living on a plate. He was not as bright as he thought he was. He was a drinker, a diabetic and a crack addict. I forget the number of times that I had to revive him with a sugar cube or an emergency Mars Bar.

We lived in St. John’s Wood in an ex-council flat above Barclays Bank. Most of the other flats on our floor were still council flats. The tenants were quite elderly and doddery. Many were house bound. We rarely crossed paths. The only time that I would see the old girl across the corridor would be on Sunday mornings. She would struggle across the landing using her zimmer frame to knock on my door. To inform me that my flat mate had passed out on the landing or at the top of the stairs. It was quite a regular weekend occurrence. What must she have thought of us? How embarrassing.

I was glad to leave the flat in St John’s Wood. And Simon. He left the Company. By mutual consent. Something to do with expense claims I think. Or it could have been his regular afternoon naps in the toilets. He was an odd one. He ripped off a bunch of colleagues by organising a fictitious trip to Moscow. He was a raving lefty. And, I once had to bail him out of jail after he had been caught stealing books from Waterstones. We didn’t keep in touch. I suspect he will have drunk himself to death by now, or have been killed by some victim of a scam, or, he may well be a millionaire.

My experience with Simon made me adamant that I would never share a place again. Except with C and Maslow of course.

On my second spell in the Smoke, I lived in Kilburn. Little Ireland. Well, not so little in fact. Kilburn has the largest Irish community in the world outside of Dublin. It was the safest place to be during the IRA bombing campaign of the late 80s. The only time I remember Kilburn being effected by a bomb scare was on St. Patrick’s Day evening. I suspect it was a hoax aimed at disrupting all of the Paddy’s Day celebrations.

I lived in a one bedroom flat on he first floor of a two-storey house conversion, opposite a launderette where the local hoodies would hang out and which once figured in a Crimewatch reconstruction following a murder. Nice.

I only met the girl who lived below me maybe twice to talk to. The first time was on the night I moved in. Not being a southerner I “knocked on” to introduce myself. She was very welcoming, invited me in, and offered me a glass of wine. An hour later we were exchanging spare keys, in case of emergency.

The second time I saw her was a bit more embarrassing. C and I were in the shower. This was not long after we had got together. Apparently, C and I were oblivious to the fact that the spray from the shower was hitting the tiled wall at the side of the bath, running down a hitherto unnoticed crack, and exiting through the light in the kitchen of the downstairs apartment. My neighbour had been knocking, apparently, but we hadn’t heard her. She had let herself in – with the spare key – and was coming up our stairs as I was walking out of the bathroom. We avoided eye contact ;)How embarrassing. We didn’t keep in touch after I moved.

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