So, we left off at me and Missy retrieving the key to the house from the neighbour. It was this key. One solitary, very expensive, hard fought and won key.
We took our courage and entered in to the house. First impressions were that the place was grimy, as though a house full of greasy handed adults had lived there. The air smelled dusty and dirty. A carpet on the stairs was threadbare and torn.
Some items including an armchair were left in the living room but it wasn’t bad at all. The bathroom was dirty. The bath – I just don’t know how a bath gets that gloopy with gunge. The bathroom cupboards were occupied, the understairs cupboard was filled, the living room cupboard was filled, the bureau that we fought over where I ended up giving up my furniture in favour of making space for his furniture – was sat there, abandoned and containing stuff… lots of stuff. The conservatory wasn’t too bad on first inspection but fish tank stands were screwed in to the windowsill and the blinds were broken and unusable.
A photo with my face scratched out but you can still see my smile was left behind.
The sheet detailing the police record of his taped interview was in the drawer.
Love letters and cards to his ladies, Linda and Louise, were left for me to find. Apparently he helped them get through their darkest hour and everybody loves everybody.
The kitchen, I didn’t want to touch anything, the grime was evident on all surfaces and handles. All the cupboard doors were wonky, many of the cupboards were filled with unnecessary clutter, lots of clutter.
Upstairs all the blinds had been removed so we were open to view from neighbours on all sides, cupboards were filled, Missy’s room was kitted out in full furniture including a dining table and bar stools (really, bar stools), a broken bed, a tv stand, all her toys we’d not been able to take which were now for children not adults, her wardrobe was empty.
The third bedroom has built in closets, full to the brim. Aircon units were left which will end up being handy in the summer if they work. Bathroom sink in a box was left. A bathroom cupboard in a box was left. DIY tools and tool boxes were scattered around the house.
The main bedroom, to be greeted by the king sized marital bed was disturbing. I could see the impression from where he had lain these past four years, with my side undisturbed or indented. Other items of furniture abounded. My bookshelf over the chimney in the bedroom lay untouched, none of the books read, all dusty and as I left them.
Black mould in the cupboards and in the corners of the room. How can someone knowingly live with black mould in the room they sleep? It is unfathomable to me.
The boiler was broken with an error message indicating trouble with the intake vents.
Wires, cut, severed, uncapped or made safe, were dangling from the boiler.
Black mould behind two kitchen cupboards.
Plumbing piping on the outside of the house had been smashed.
Debris littered the rather decent for an English house’s garden. Canopies tangled and broken, rubbish all around the garden, paddling pools were strewn across the grass, the giant fire drum which stands at around 8ft tall was filled with hedge cuttings but from where I do not know as the hedge had grown to be as high as the upstairs windows and covering much of the garden and garden buildings. The sheds were filled to the brim. They were filled with abandoned tools, with 4 lots of bathroom sets of wash basin, pedestal, toilet and cistern. That was around 16 sanitary items had to be taken to the tip! There were old dishwashers, freezers, fridge freezers, tumble dryers, shower trays and surrounds. The roof of both sheds had caved and ripped, one worse than the other. Behind the sheds we had a hip high, 30ft wide expanse of broken and discarded wood and weeds.
The front of the house as you pull up on the drive looked perfectly respectable. As you entered the home and moved further through it became a more shambolic representation of the truth rather than the façade. For a man so fastidious and aggressive regarding all things housekeeping, the condition of the place was a shock.
In that moment, once I recovered from the surprise of how grimy and unkempt this house had become, I determined that I would invest the capital required and invest the elbow grease necessary to make the house habitable again.
It would take many days, dedicating myself to the task, and calling on service providers and accepting the help of those who wanted to assist including my mum to get it to a point where we could move furniture in. The house needed to be decontaminated of mould, walls needed to be stripped, everywhere needed to be painted and repaired, carpets needed to be laid.
It took a skip, a gypsy scrap dealer, another flatbed truck for garden debris, a mass of furniture donation including saying goodbye to the marital bed, and 15 estate car loads to the tip and we are still going strong to remove the unnecessary and undesired items from the house.
The Saturday before last we moved in our things. We’re now trying to close down the rental home and hand in the keys but landlords, gosh they make things difficult!!!
This house is littler than the rental so our furniture doesn’t fit, we’re having to be quite creative and repurpose items and continue downsizing but we’ll get there. This last weekend we managed to get 3 bedrooms set up, a washing machine plumbed in and find homes for lots of possessions, mostly keepsakes and bathroom stuff.
On the Saturday I moved us in, I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I felt like an interloper in my own home, I was a little upset for no tangible reason other than the mess that the removal company had left was a little overwhelming. A friend at Church on the Sunday suggested that Missy and I take a day off, that we just eat easy food, watch a movie, spend time there, don’t worry about the boxes. It worked. We bonded with the house and come the Monday I felt less like a stranger. So, thank you Julie Brann, you helped me get back on my emotional feet and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for your kindness toward us.
Now, and for the next 25 years while I pay down this mortgage, Missy and I will (fingers crossed) have a home to come back to, a place to call our own, a place to rest from the world where people aren’t inspecting us every 12 weeks on a Wednesday, where we can have friends over in an impromptu fashion, where we can hang pictures on the walls and plant our garden without wondering if we’ll be around to see it flourish. I’m looking forward to getting used to the idea that this is home. Pictures to follow.