My quest is over. I’ve found a place to live, and it wasn’t easy. After leaving Dovecot Towers, and indeed because of Dovecot Towers, I had a list of cast iron requirements. Sadly, what I now consider essential in a home is in reality up there with diamond encrusted door-handles and platinum floors.
I was only asking for basics, like a strong door. When I lived in Dovecot Towers and discovered that miscreants had stolen the main door, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but my new block has a good door on it. A fine door. A safe door.
The post room is still communal with shallow boxes, but it’s safe. The building has a proper concierge (hooray!) which isn’t as grand as it sounds. They’re caretakers, really; the difference is, they will sign for post. The idea of having someone sitting at reception acts as a deterrent to people forcing their way in, but then the architects and developers have also hit upon a totally sci-fi innovation, usually found only on spaceships. It’s a main door that actually closes properly.
Regular readers aware of my proclivities might be curious for details of the cupboard situation. The news is not all good. I am not overburdened with yawning storage so vast that suitcases look lonely, or acres of shelving (sigh...) but there is a utility cupboard, for my mops, brooms and washer-drier. Let the joy be unconfined!
There’s a separate kitchen. Old-fashioned tenants accustomed to boiling their smalls on the hob appreciate separate kitchens. Personally I am not so inclined, but even so I’m grateful that I can shut the door so the entire flat doesn’t reek of whatever I am cooking.
There’s also a small balcony with a door that opens inwards so you don’t knock visitors over the edge, and a view. Hardly a stirring panorama of snow-capped mountains, but at least I’m not staring into someone else’s flat with a distance of just five feet between us.
And it’s larger than the average flat, but unfortunately, it’s painted white throughout and must stay that way. There were nails ready in the walls begging to be hung with pictures. I can’t hear my neighbours music, or their toilet flushing or any other diverting Dovecotian delights. There’s a recycling bin, and a water meter. There’s a well-posted fire assembly point (but with a decided lack of arsonists hereabouts, I doubt I’ll find myself standing there at dawn in my curlers.) The landlord seems to be a reasonable man who simply wants to let his flat and therefore needs a tenant.
Speaking as a former resident of the gruelling dystopia that was Dovecot Towers, I know from bitter experience that these matters are vital, even in buy-to-let developments. Security, a good, sturdy design and efficient management should never be considered as indulgent extras beyond the reach of renters. Safety is not a luxury.
So that’s a great flat, an apparently secure building, in a quiet area (all it needs now is a pseudonym; any suggestions?) What could possibly go wrong?