Friday, 1 July 2011

Leeds Girl

For almost a year I've been sharing a room with my sister in a house I've lodged in for over a year and a half. I pay rent by the day on the days that I sleep there with no other bills to worry about and share with a teacher, card-maker and clown. My sister and I have not only shared a room, but also a bed.

Queue horrified gasps... It's not actually quite as bad as it sounds - the bed we shared was a single bed with a double camp bed frame pull-out and we somehow managed to avoid any major full-outs with only low-level bickering, despite one of us working by day and the other in a restaurant by night.

The house was a strong candidate for Kim and Aggie's attentions, sold to me as "not to every one's tastes" before I even clapped eyes on it. I'd grown accustomed to using the hob cover and bin lid as surfaces to prepare food on, although obviously using a plate or chopping board! Seeing the clown's pants hanging over the bath was a weekly treat, battling with temperamental locks a daily gamble and navigating myself with my weekend luggage through the small cleared pathway in what could be described as "the front room" became a necessary skill.

It was only when my sister moved in that the possibility of a move started being discussed. With such a great location, flexible landlady and cheap rent, I was prepared to continue living in this eccentric environment four or five days a week but little sis was not and craved her own space while continuing to have a rent-sharing partner.

Months after discussing potential relocations, I now find myself sharing a room in Finsbury Park. The flat is minutes walk from the station and located between a butchers and late night "sauna".
The glass in the door looks like it has been headbutted and the flat number is displayed on a piece of card sellotaped to the inside of this panel.

Our new digs come with its own nuances but also two single beds and a considerable amount of floor space. I'm once again struggling with locks, leaving myself an additional five minutes to secure the building on my departure and there's a special knack to using the shower. The room is incredibly light with two large sky lights that wake me up early in the morning with streams of light beaming through. On hot days it's best to keep the windows shut at night as the constant flow of traffic roars straight through the room.

On the first night in the flat, lying awake listening to the sirens, I was instantly reminded of a Grace Nichols poem that I used to teach called Island Man, describing conflicting memories of the subject's home land and his new life in London:

Confronted nightly with the "grey metallic soar" of our Capital and constantly traipsing between Leeds and London, Island Man has taken on a whole new meaning to me. But as the days have passed and my permanent return to Leeds draws near, I know I'll perversely miss these nightly noises and even the locks have warmed to me. Perhaps strangest of all, I might actually miss living with little sis - well, just a tiny bit.

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