Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I am finally a London householder

But it was not without its challenges, getting to this point. I set out rather later than I had intended today, as overnight brought dozens of emails from Australia, which had already had itself up and busy doing Wednesday. I learnt that Sydney had a bout of torrential rain (what else is new?) and that my house at Lindfield has sprung its usual leaks, with water pouring into the back corridor. I was so certain that had been fixed. So I spent some time emailing around about this and other bits of business.

But my morning business was as nothing compared to that of Dillon, the real estate agent with whom I am dealing for the lease of St Pancras. He spent all morning trying to convince the owner's solicitor that she should authorise entry for his cleaners, and release the keys to me. For reasons we can only ponder in puzzlement on this blog, she did neither. I took myself to the concierge desk of the apartments, where several impassive-faced concierges looked calmly at me and said they had to wait for written authority to release access or keys to anybody (entirely reasonable).

Dillon - he and I have become comrades du guerre - finally came up with an effective solution: he gave me the solicitor's phone number. Refusing to be put off by ploys like 'would you like to leave a message?' and 'everyone is on the phone', I held and held and stressed the urgency, and  - pausing only to do her nails and have a cup of tea - the solicitor in question finally deigned to speak to me.At first she tried some silly stuff about not yet having a copy of the signed lease (which Dillon had couriered to her that morning)...but I cut her short. I pointed out that she had my money (a lot of it), there had been an offer which I had accepted and thus there was a contract, and the lease began yesterday at noon, so in my opinion the landlord was already in breach of contract by denying me access. I also mentioned the van load of furniture presently outside in Euston Road, and told her that if I incurred any expense in having to return it, I would be making a claim.

I had the satisfaction not only of feeling much better after this fierce outburst, but also of my audience becoming rather more thoughtful. She said - wait for it - that she wasn't aware that the lease began yesterday. She drafted the document. In fact, it took her from Friday to Tuesday to re-draft the document changing only one thing in it: the date.

From this point, I was promised action. Luckily for me, the solicitor pulled out all stops and took only another half an hour to send through the required authority - consisting of an email. Whew! She must have worked her butt off! I called twice more during this slightly stressful half hour. Firstly she told me that she had "had a bounce back" but she "had a number somewhere". The urgency of the situation was clearly impressed upon her. On the third phone call she kept me on hold for five minutes. Just as I was being put through, the concierge signalled that the authority had come through, so I hung up on her. I sincerely hope she has little or nothing more to do with this tenancy.

That said, I did form a bonding relationship with the personnel of the concierge desk, all very nice helpful gentlemen who wear smart suits. I feel I maintained my dignity in my dealings with them (if you don't count that slight slip where I almost sobbed on their desk and said something about being 'desperate').

At the very moment that the keys reached my desperate little palm, the furniture delivery van reached the gates of the loading dock. To leap ahead, all the furniture is now in the flat, and looks fine, and the cleaners came and cleaned around the furniture men assembling beds and tables and so on. I won't dwell on the three or four hours that this tedious process took. After all, it wasn't me who had to carry it all up five flights of an admittedly beautiful Victorian staircase. The armchair and sofa are particular successes - very comfy.

I did manage to eat some lunch at 4 pm, and go to the supermarket (for toilet paper and such-like) at 6 pm; put my new dishes through the dishwasher and some of my new sheets through the washing machine. But regretfully there has not yet been time to celebrate with the necessary champagne - perhaps I will save that for the first night I actually sleep there, which won't be for a few days. My plan is to move a suitcase a day for the next few days. I am going to Hamburg (for the opera, of course!) on Saturday, returning Monday; and then I am off to Brussels, Athens and the Costa Brava beginning Wednesday. I bought my London - Brussels Eurostar train ticket today. That was one thing I could squeeze in, since the station is right there!

I also solved - at least for the time being - the problem of the hideous BT and their phone line shenanigans: I spent twenty quid and bought a 3G broadband pay-as-you-go USB modem from Vodafone (they call it a 'dongle', but that is just too stupid to be perpetuated). So there, BT.

Of course there will be much more to report concerning the newly acquired premises, but for today, I think this is enough. I am sure you will agree.


  1. I am now waiting for photos of the flat with all the furniture. Should be good. BTW did you have to pay extra to get things up the stairs? Many years ago we had to pay $HK100 per floor to get a piano down the stairs (It was over 20 floors as I recall).

  2. Hello Mrs Chan - no, no extra charge, but I gave the two guys a big tip!

  3. That's good. sorry about the Mrs Chan, that was my school log in. I forgot I had two. I haven't figured out how to delete one of them.