I’m not cut out to be a land lady. I’ve tried it, and have failed miserably. I promised the last tenant faithfully that I’d decorate the kitchen when they moved in. A year has passed, the kitchen remains untouched and the tenant’s leaving.
I’m rubbish at this stuff. In fact last week my tenant reprimanded me for leaving the bathroom light on when showing a potential tenant the place. Clearly, showing people round and turning lights on and off is too much for me. I have instructed an estate agent to help me. They were inundated with requests and booked in lots of viewings, which Nipper and I had to accompany, as holders of our tenants keys.
The first couple we met scared me. The woman belonged to the feted ‘Y’ generation. Why ‘Y’, I don’t know. But I’m an ‘x’ and maybe a little too laid back for these ‘y’s who seem far wiser and far sharper. She actually thanked me for coming round and I replied; ‘no problem, thanks for having me’. Before showing her and her meek boyfriend out.....
Yesterday morning Nipper and I went to meet an Estate Agent and a lady keen on renting my old flat.
We arrived early;-mainly because we'd got the time wrong and thought the appointment was 9:15 not 9:30, so our arrival at 9:25 meant we could change the panicked expression to one of smugness.
We parked the car in our old spot and walked around the block to find an elderly lady peering through the flat windows.
'Have you come to view the flat?'
'Pardon dear - you'll have to speak up, I can't hear a thing'
'Have you come to see the flat?'
'Yes! Are you the estate agent? And who is this?'
'I'm Vikki and this is Nipper - this is our flat. We used to live here. Would you like us to show you round?'
‘Yes please love – it looks lovely from what I can see. I’m Dot by the way.’
We then took the smartly dressed 'Dot' through the communal door and into the flat. As we held the door open for her, I couldn't help but be slightly startled by the azure blue of her eyeshadow, and marvel at her snazzy dog-tooth checked trousers and platform boots.
She told me she was a widow of 82 and that she'd recently had a fall (nothing to do with the platformed boots apparently - but all down to her careless landlord leaving bricks in the garden).
She told 'us' (because by this point Nipper was transfixed by the patterned trousers and continually nodded at everything Dot said) - that she was looking for a ground floor place as she couldn't do stairs. I explained that the agent had let it the night before and that she was going to ring her to explain. Dot said she knew this but was still keen to come down 'as you never know what might happen'.
She had a real sparkle in her eye. Unfortunately she didn't have a spring in her step to match. She was really quite wobbly (maybe partly due to the platform boots) and I felt the need to take her arm a lot. We glided about the flat together on the silky wooden floors and we showed her the bathroom with it's death trap high-sided bath. I just couldn't imagine Dot getting her leg over (so to speak) in there. I knew that if she took the flat, then I’d feel duty bound to come and remove the bath and fit a nice safe shower, with hand rails and everything.
The Agent finally showed up, but not before Nipper and I had fallen a little in love with Dot. I knew it would be hard for Nipper to tear herself away from the dog-tooth check, and I wanted to have more chats with Dot about her husband (dearly departed) who'd worked on the farm in Eynsford 50 years ago. I also wanted to know more about her two adopted sons and her one biological one - who'd popped out when they'd least expected it after years of hoping for a child!
The agent explained to Dot (quite coldly actually) that the flat was gone, but she was top of the waiting list. We took Dot by the arm and walked her (very slowly) to the waiting car - hiding her biological son Alan. We said goodbye and then I asked the Agent if she would try her best to find somewhere for Dot to go as she couldn't cope with her stairs at home.
I would have loved Dot as the tenant but the Agent had started the paperwork the night before and the new tenant has paid the agent the deposit. N pointed out though that I'd end up feeling responsible for Dot and would worry about her. I didn't tell him that I'd already played out nightmare scenarios in my head featuring Dot falling from her bed and smashing her hip on our hard shiny wood flooring in the flat. N's probably right, but Dot would have loved living in the flat. She would have been by the river, and a stone's throw from the Village Hall where she would have enjoyed 'Tuesday Club' - where the girls and boys of the over 80s go to play scrabble and drink tea on a Tuesday.
If I’d not taken on the estate agent, then I’d have chosen Dot in a heartbeat, but the estate agent was already halfway through processing what she referred to as ‘a very sensible candidate’. Sensibile? Cripes – that means they’ll expect the kitchen to be decorated then.....and the lights turned off......
Anyway, Dot's back in her three bedroom rented house in Pett's Wood (shudder). She'd love to come back to Eynsford where she lived when her family were young, and when the farm was a proper working farm and when the flat (she liked) was an old paper mill. So, if anyone knows of a ground floor flat going for a reasonable rent in the village, please let us know, we know a very smart lady who’d love it.