I haven’t been in London for six years yet but I have already been in more than ten addresses. I stopped counting on the eleventh. There was a point where I would go to one of those places where you have to notify about your change of address, and the woman at the desk would look at me in disbelief: “Is this your permanent address now?”. “Permanent or no permanent, it is the only one I have”, I thought. “Yes it is”, I said.
So when I was offered this “short life” tenancy, I didn’t mind that it was only guaranteed for six months. It actually sounded like a long time. It turned out that the only accommodation I have had with the word “short” on the contract has been the longest I have ever had in London.
Of course there is a trick. There is hot water, and the boiler is fairly reliable, but there is no heating and one of the walls is clearly in the process of collapsing. There is also dry and wet rot, although I have only recently learned about them.
Now that it looks like this period of my life is to end too, I need to decide between a small flat or a big, communal-living house. Both have the word “permanent” in the contract, but I no longer believe in promises contained in tenancy agreements. For D. it is all a question of sustainability. Apparently each human being using an individual water boiler, a sink, a washing machine, a cooker, is not sustainable. It is more sustainable for the planet, and more humane for the individual, to live in a community and share all those things and more. Like the housing co-op where he lives now, he says. Apparently it was me that talked to him about this co-op in the first place, and made him think about moving there. He keeps talking wonders about it, I keep remarking just how far away from the centre of London it is. He convinces me to apply.