If you are blessed with a mathematical brain (of which I am not) then it will be very easy for you to work out the fact that we spent some un-pregnant months as a newly wed couple. Oh and about two or so months into those un-pregnant newly married months, my brother lived with us. In our one bedroom flat. On our sofa.
My only wish was that we had a bigger sofa. It just wasn't big enough for two medium and one ample (mine, don't worry I'm not down trodding myself...I was just blessed with a generous butt size) sized bums. So we would (Bryan or my brother) would sit on the upturned punch bag. We also had some more interesting bits in our furniture collection: a cardboard box as a table and a suitcase as a wardrobe.
I can't remember when the mould moved in, but I think it was after winter time.
Our landlord - a lovely guy named Ken who my Gaydar told me was gay but I was totally wrong because I got the shock of my life when I called up to say our rental payment would be late by a few days one day and his wife (a woman) answered - had used mould resistant paint on the walls. I knew this because my brother and B found a tin of the stuff in one of the hall cupboards and I decided to Google it in case we needed more and it had been discontinued. Unfortunately it didn't do a very great job at resisting the mould.
We had crappy electric storage heaters. As soon as my sister saw the heaters she gave me the look that said it all and then proceeded to warn me about how much money these little beauties (ha) ate up. And she wasn't wrong! £20 a week is what they cost us - and that was having it on three days per week for about an hour or so. It was fuh-reezing in that place. Our oil froze over it was so cold. Our breath was visible. My lips turned blue at one point and I honestly didn't think I'd thaw out. We also had a pay as you go meter which was hilarious if you were in the shower and it suddenly conked out. One time it did that to me and showered me with some vitalising cold water then conked out!
I went crazy thinking Bryan was playing a really mean joke on me but he looked completely clueless. We worked it out that our electricity was gone and so we plugged in our first "emergency fiver." Those with these kinds of systems will know what I'm talking about. For every one else there's South Western Electric to explain it.
I am thankful we did have that kind of meter because one time I was running out the door to go to a job interview and I left the radiator plugged in and turned on...with a towel on it. I never do things like this, ever. I'm the kind of girl who unplugs the hair straighteners, goes back to check they're unplugged, has breakfast, checks they're unplugged, goes out the door, comes back, checks they're unplugged...and then I will text my younger brother to unplug them. He'll say they're cold, sitting on my bed and unplugged already and I will ask him to check again. Seriously. This actually happened once.
And no. I don't have OCD. A person with OCD would not be so laissez-faire about leaving a storage heater turned on and plugged in and forget about it.
I remember when I first saw our little love nest for the first time. We were frantic about finding a place of our own (you all know our wedding story and if not, wait for February while I re-tell it for the fiftieth time on our Second Anniversary) and very desperate that we didn't live with B's parents. I love them but I can't imagine starting married life on that note. I have lived with people I would walk to hell and back for and wanted to murder them in their sleep after a few weeks of sharing space with them. Love really doesn't conquer that whole living together thing. It makes you homicidal. And it's nice to enjoy the people you should enjoy.
So when we saw an ad in an abandoned shop window after we'd prayed to find a place we phoned up Ken straight away on the mobile. He agreed to see us that afternoon and I felt sickeningly hopeful and positive - although very nervous and anxious we weren't being shown around a pit of a place, like a few of the other properties we'd been too.
And in one case it wasn't so much the state of the property, it was the creepy estate agent who kept saying "do you understand?" after every sentence as if we were his lab rats. He honestly spent forty minutes lecturing us both in B's parents living room...and I don't know why. It was like we were being interviewed by God. Except God isn't creepy. Or middle aged. Then he took us to the property and kept stressing we basically whisper in our own home because there was a sweet old lady across the way who didn't like noise. Or young people. Or children. Or...well I'm hard pressed to assume she liked anything.
So, I was anxious. Ken led us into this lower property flat with a charming Spanish style (or so I thought) hall way. I'd seen properties like this on that TV show my Mum likes so much where British people move to places they can't speak the language and it all goes belly up. Then it was into "our" living room. I loved it. There was a screen separating the bedroom and the living room - now, right now, as I'm typing this it sounds like my worst nightmare, but this was nearly two years ago - and I remember thinking "this is so Japanese!". Haha. I was young. The kitchen wasn't memorable, but it was a good size. The bathroom shower was massive - I wasn't concerned about having a bath at all, we were child free and I'd been having showers for the past eighteen months I had lived in London.
I wanted to sign on the dotted line there and then. Then Ken announced he had another flat above the one we were viewing. Not wanting to pass on an opportunity like this we agreed to see it immediately. I was quite aware that he might have used this as a tactic - show them the smaller flat, which is cheaper, then show them the bigger flat which is more expensive. But to be honest, it was only £30 or so more expensive so it wasn't a big deal.
We went up to the bigger flat and I honestly felt so excited. I knew it was where we'd live. I'd have my own kitchen. My own bathroom. My own bedroom. My own sofa bed. I was giddy with excitement because I'd never had this level of independence before.
I loved our first flat, but then when the mould appeared it ruined my feelings towards it. I wanted out badly. I tried everything I could to get rid of the mould, but no matter what I did, it would grow back! Mould with a vengeance. I can see the crappy B-list pound shop DVD on the shelves already.
There was a World of other stuff going on with everything in my life, as well. Like having no jobs or money - put that in your pipe and smoke it, self righteous tax payer. I didn't really have anyone to talk too because I wasn't at that "let it all hang out" stage of a friendship with anyone close by. And I think, deep down, I was ashamed of myself and my situation.
Looking back, I realise things happened out with my control. People get sick, they lose their jobs and there's not a damn thing people can do about it. Except receive all kinds of treatment and judgements and snippets of advice from all and sundry. Some good, some bad and some ugly.
All I know is my truth and I'm quite happy to laugh at all the other things in between because that's what keeps you fuelled - laughter.
After I tested positive (and had a freak out) when I did a pregnancy test, I knew we were going to outgrow our flat very quickly. I was a mess in the first few months of pregnancy. I wasn't sure what I wanted any more and again feeling very isolated didn't help matters.
We of course pitched up our camp in Falkirk and we faced another set of equally scary and exciting challenges ahead of us. My brother moved out to live with our cousin and Roman moved in.
So the dynamics didn't change at all. We went from two boys and one girl to...two boys and one girl
...but I wouldn't have it any other way.
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