Ficklish Blog

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Home Sweet Homewares

So, Rip van Winkle and I have found a flat. The annoying paperwork is almost complete and so subject only to the payment of a significantly large sum of money it will be ours on the last weekend of November.

I’m excited: it’s in a great part of town, close to excellent pubs and restaurants, within walking distance from work, a major metropolitan railway station and some markets, and (both delightfully and alarmingly) just down the road from Dr Evil’s place.

Finding a great sharehouse is a lottery. My accommodation history to date has been a celebration of the (mostly) random that has worked out spectacularly well in some cases (and you know who you are) and horrifically bad in others. The fact that they have been random, governed mostly by chance and circumstance, has meant that I’ve never put much thought into what each house will be like before I move in.

Until tonight.

I had been a bit wary of sharing a flat with a good mate – I’ve done it before and it has worked well, but you never know what might wreck an otherwise perfectly good friendship. Rip van Winkle and I have discussed this, however, and have been very honest about our living styles and what we want: namely, our own space and the ability to sit for an evening with a book and a cup of tea (or glass of port, in Rip’s case) and to not have to talk too much. I think it’s going to work well.

So, we’ve covered some of the big questions already. We’ve agreed no to a television, but yes to a wireless modem. Yes to a cleaner, and yes to smoking outside. Rip van Winkle suggested that we meet at the pub tonight to plan what practical stuff we’ll need for the flat. I thought this was a great idea – it’s only ‘part’ furnished and neither of us have the years of accumulated house junk we lug around at home. I also thought this would be a good chance for us to continue to be frank about what we wanted the flat to be like – you know, open, honest conversation early to avoid misunderstandings and simmering resentment later on.

I was right. It was just like that. But oh, so much more.

Rip van Winkle, you see, is a planner – not merely by nature, but by profession as well. He fills his days thinking about design, and function, and ‘optimal use of space’.

In my mind, I had prepared for this conversation by thinking: ‘a good couch, a book shelf, the right kind of coffee maker. Those are the non-negotiables’. I figured RVW would have a similar list, we’d hammer it out over a pint or two and find common ground.

But Rip was prepared. He brought a list, and we spent a good hour and a half going through the elements of the theory of the planning and design process.

Here they are:

- Site analysis
- Opportunities and constraints
- List required/desired uses
- Develop themes
- Develop floor plans
- Appraisal
- Detailed development.

The list was a thing of beauty. I argued that it was missing an ‘evaluation and review’ phase, but apparently that’s all part of ‘detailed development’.

You know what? It was awesome. For a non-spatially aware person such as myself who also tends to lurk down the obsessive end of the spectrum, this was a very pleasing experience. I got to listen to a good friend talk about a subject he loves, and though I gave him shit about the list (as you do) I actually enjoyed thinking about what I want from my home in a very specific way.

And it’s amazing how much detail you can get into when you’re apparently just talking theory. We didn’t actually MAKE any real decisions. We certainly did not do a floor plan, or decide about whether we need a couch, an armchair AND a dining table in the living room, or where they’ll go, or what colour they should be.

We did, however, discover that we are in complete agreement about just about everything, including such important topics as:

- The superfluity of microwaves.
- The importance, if one must have Teflon, of using non-metal (preferably wooden) utensils.
- Knives.
- Drinking glasses.
- Dinnerware.
- Plants.
- Pets.
- Side tables versus coffee tables.
- Clothes-drying racks.
- Thin-handled cutlery.
- Wine storage.
- The minimum number of saucepans required for every purpose, from making soup to heating milk.

It was fantastic. There was no topic on which we couldn’t find at least broadly principled, if not energetically enthusiastic agreement. I had no idea that I had such strong opinions about household paraphernalia.

Dr Evil had very kindly offered to cook us dinner, so we adjourned to his flat, still lost in our conversation, continuing our journey of mutual appreciation of various everyday items.

“Good noodle bowls. The deep ones with steep sides, heavy ceramic.”
“Yes! And an excellent garlic press.”
“Oh, absolutely.”

Both of us so were wrapped up in expressing the secret utensil and cookware desires of our innermost hearts that we didn’t care how ridiculous we sounded.

Until we heard Dr Evil wheezing with hysterical laughter.

At the time, Rip van Winkle was showing me the glass lemon squeezer he’d found at an op shop the other day – it was absolutely perfect, just how I’d described the one I wanted twenty minutes before in the pub.

Dr Evil: You know, you should rent out fly-on-the-wall camera access in your flat. You two are freaking hilarious.

At one point, RVW proposed an elaborate scheme for streamlining dishwashing processes, whereby we would each have ‘our’ designated plate, mug and bowl (he did mention the phrase ‘with our name on it’), for use solely by that person and to the exclusion of all other crockery and glassware, thereby ensuring minimal pileup of dirty dishes.

By this stage I was weeping with laughter too. I could see his point (and endorse it), but holy hell, we’re a freak show. I love it. This is going to be fun.

jLo: You know, when we started this conversation I had no idea that we would agree so closely on so many things.

RVW: I know! We are so symmetrically anal.

(A pause).

jLo: You know, there are gay men out there who never find that.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Too Drunk To Blog

Okay, so it's not Monday. And as much as I don't want to be the girl who starts every blog post with 'oh, sorry you guys, it's been so long' etc, it's the truth. I am sorry. I'm just weak.

I have these friends, you see. And they corrupt me in ways that I cannot justify. For some reason, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time away from my home, enjoying many dissipated and unproductive hours away from my computer and failing to communicate with those I love from afar.

First, there's the friend formerly known as Mr F, because I couldn't think of anything better to call him. We've finally come up with a name, and it suits him perfectly. He loves the pub almost as much as I do, but he has a disconcerting (and hilarious) habit of falling asleep as soon as we get home. So from now on, he will be called Rip Van Winkle. He's awake now, but not for much longer.

Then there's Dr Evil. He lives in a fabulous flat, a huge warehouse studio just outside of central London where we have spent countless hours drinking, talking and dancing the night away. He is known as Dr Evil because he is the single most corrupting influence in my life at present. An innocent afternoon at a local pub, having a wholesome Sunday roast, becomes a night of debauched revelry whereupon I find myself catching the tube home at 7am to shower and change for work, simply because I am unable to resist his entreaties to stay: "jLo! You can't go home now! We're going to watch movies and have pizza at my house!" Oh, okay, Dr Evil. Lead the way.

My arm isn't rubber, it's jelly.

And there's Madam Fox. She is hella foxy, funny and smart and a most excellent dancer. I wish you could all meet her. She's the awesome.

So, right now, when I had planned to be at home, having had my delightful roast lunch, updating my blog and answering email, I am instead at the lair of Dr Evil, where I spend too many nights per week to even mention. I walked in, he handed me a beer. When I said I felt like writing, he handed me a laptop and told me to go for it. This is as close to heaven as I have right now.

It's been a good day, you know. I really do have a lot to tell you. Valencia was great fun (I'll post photos soon), I'm moving into a new flat (with Rip van Winkle, just down the road from Dr Evil), the feather-hat-macaroni thing is right there on the wikipedia once you have the motivation to look. Today I spent the morning chatting with the lovely J, The on the skype, then adjourned to a fantastic pub, now I'm sitting on the floor in a cool studio, about to head out to the balcony to watch the London skyline at dusk.

This is a great town, and I really like it here. I wish I wrote to you all more often, but there's not much more than that to say.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Goodness, I've so much to tell you. This week: the flat situation looks like being resolved in an unexpected but delightful way, I joined a crazy dancing mob and got my photo in the paper, we celebrated Mr F's birthday in spectacular style and I finally learned what 'stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni' means.

These stories (and more) have to wait, however. I am about to make good use of the number one reason why living here is freaking awesome, that is, the ability to jet off to exotic European locations for the weekend. Many would say that this opportunity should be used to make sure that one visits as many different places as possible, I say when you're on to a good thing stick to it.

Oh yes, my friends. It's time for jLo and Valencia: The Return. I can't freaking wait. Talk to you Monday!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


As you all know, I'm a pretty easygoing person. I don't get angry very often. Some folks froth and bubble and seethe at the slightest of inconveniences, I tend to take things in my stride and don't really get upset if there's nothing that can be done. This approach works both for me and against me: it means I'm more often contented than not, but it also means I miss out on things because I don't feel like making a fuss in order to get them.

Having said this, I am REALLY FREAKING ANGRY today. So angry that I’m going to type in ALL CAPS and runmywordstogether, even more than usual.

And it's not for a great reason. And there's nothing I can do about it. I'm just really, really disappointed and angry that someone else's failure becomes my problem.

I'll start with the blog post I should have written two weeks ago. It was all there, in my head. Here is how it would have gone:

Guess what, you guys? I've found a new house! Hooray! And it's in a GREAT location! Seriously. A half-hour walk from work, right in the heart of a very funky area of town. Around the corner from one friend's house, a hopskipjump away from another. Close to shops, a gym, fabulous pubs and restaurants, buses to everywhere. The people are lovely, and the price is good, and .. get this… I found it on only my second day of looking! There were dozens of applicants for this house, but I very quickly recognised its potential and promptly set my awesomeness beams to stun; dazzling my way past the other hapless hopefuls, triumphantly prevailing over a bottle of wine and sparkling conversation with my new housemates.

It's all organised, I'm moving in mid-October. I've given notice on my flat, Mr Juicy is searching for my replacement. I am very, VERY, reallyalotohmygodit'sgoingtobesogood excited - I've shared my glee not only with my friends and colleagues, but have surprised several random strangers by stopping them in the street to share the good news. I am dizzy with possibility. It really feels like London life is falling into place: a good job, a great flat, a great posse of playmates - in fact, I am starting to preemptively mourn the fact that my time here is limited. It's time to get serious about looking into my visa options. I can really settle here!

Ah, the blog post that never was. So giddy and hopeful, I was - the mere thought of my new digs was enough to have me tapping a happy little dance along the street. I planned my décor, mapped out the route to work, and daydreamed happily of the weekends to come in my excellent new neighbourhood.

I felt like the Gods of the Househunt had decided that I suffered enough last time and it was time for me to catch a break. I knew they would strike me on down if I wasn't properly appreciative of the fact that I'd struck such gold with such apparent ease, and so I made my grateful thanks and bequeathed as many of my future progeny as they should ever require.

But, you know, maybe I didn't go far enough. Maybe, just maybe, I got a little smug. Another friend was looking for a flat and I confess that I may have given in to the temptation to boast of my success. "I've paid my dues", I said. "It was my time. Yours will come! It was so easy!" In fact, I suspected it was almost too easy.

And I was right.

I got a call tonight from the girl whose room I'm supposed to be taking. "Oh, I'm having trouble finding somewhere else. I think I might stay."


“I’m really sorry to do this to you, you seem so lovely and you’ve been so accommodating!”

(She didn’t even ask me to pardon her terrible pun).

Listen, sweetie, let me tell you plainly:


Seriously. I hate your guts right now.

Why on earth would you advertise your room as available when you haven't found anywhere else? I don't want to freaking hear about the places you saw, and how they 'really just weren't very nice'. FFS, YOU are the one being an asshole here and yet it is ME who is homeless. I'M the one who has to find somewhere else, to go through the freaking heartache of looking at one dingy flat after another, my will being progressively beaten down until I just take whatever I have to in order to have a roof over my head. And winter is coming.


And the worst part is, ain't nowt I can do about it. I can rant here, but she's in the room and on the lease and I am not. I can hope that she gets a festering karmic bee sting on her arse, but that's about all.


Those Gods of the Househunt are vengeful, malicious fuckers: pretending to grant me my heart’s desire only to cruelly snatch it away. They’re laughing their guts out right now, I’m sure of it.

I know it will pass, that lalala of course it wasn't THAT good, I can find something better, et cetera whatever rationalisation bollocks. But for now? I am really, royally, incontrovertibly, steamingswearingwantingtopunchsomething PISSED OFF.

Rant end.