La Vie Domestique: (house) pride goes before a fall…

Before launching into this week’s barrage of news, I’d like to quickly acknowledge the incredibly positive reception my last post (about depression) received from family, friends and even strangers. Thank you for all the overwhelmingly lovely messages; I’m delighted that people thought it worth sharing. 

There are various reasons that this week’s offering is once again late: firstly, I’ve been laid low with a cold which, during one of my fruitless (geddit?) attempts to fix myself with orange juice, rendered me delirious enough to pour said beverage onto one of my increasingly scarce English Breakfast teabags, so I thought it best to wait until my thoughts were more coherent. Secondly, as many of you know, something VERY DRAMATIC has caused my mood to swing 180° mid-post, for reasons that will become apparent when you reach the twist in the tale.


Without further ado, join with me on a voyage into the past. The scene: young, naive past-Rowan is embarking on a new blog post in her lovely flat… *ethereal harp music and sounds of typing*
So, I’ve recently moved into an amazing, astonishingly cheap flat in the city centre, which seems almost too good to be true. *Thunder rumbles ominously and, somewhere in the distance, a dog howls…* This has been my best month in France so far; it turns out that coming back to a nice place with a super-cool flatmate is better for the soul than skulking along a long, busy road towards a bare and lonely cell. Allow me to give you a guided tour of my current residence, using my best GCSE French.

La cuisine: There are many important things about this room, not least the presence of a freezer and a pressure cooker. In the last 2-3 weeks I’ve made ridiculously huge batches of chilli, bolognese, chapatis, 3 varieties of soup, more bolognese, and chicken jalfrezi, not to mention cake. We also invested in lobster claws oven gloves. 
I became very domestic and removed EVERYTHING from the kitchen cupboards (which I subsequently cleaned right to the back), then itemised, sorted, and put it all away in order of usefulness and size. Oh, and I actually looked up kettle-descaling tips online. To my great dismay, I’m apparently destined to be a maid or a housewife. 
In the cutlery drawer may be found: some forks, many spoons incl. one VERY TINY SPOON, a few kitchen knives and an ominous 10 steak knives. Also various unidentifiable metal objects which were dubbed “the psycho implements”. 
Où est le four? Il est dans le cuisine. I had previously thought that muffin tins were a scam. I paid for this misconception in fairy cakes, which ended up being scraped up with a spatula. LIKE MY DREAMS.

Cakes I made for our housewarming. It seems that given the chance, I really don’t do things by halves. I’ve also started shopping in arm-wrenching increments of approximately 60kg, due to the dangerous proximity of LIDL and my inability to pass by a bargain. I’ve bought enough flour, tomato sauce and sugar to last the 4 months I have left here… *A large black cloud forms on the horizon, momentarily blotting out the sun. The wind wails the song of a thousand broken hearts*
The living room: Fig. 1. For the first time in my life, I have a television. I struggle to switch it on, but I’ve somehow managed to connect my laptop to it and have therefore decided I am Steve Jobs.

Fig. 2. Yeah, we have a spare room. With a bed and everything. Isabel and Kate came to visit at the start of term, which was great fun despite me getting fined 30€ on the tram, and literally everything we tried to do being inexplicably closed. (Examples: the aquarium, two cafés I’d found online, and ALL of the restaurants we tried to go to despite my extensive research. This led to a rather embarrassing situation where I pretended to be vegetarian in order to escape a restaurant which transpired to serve nothing but entrails, cooked in a variety of expensive ways).

Fig. 3. See how my piano doesn’t dwarf everything else in the room? And is at a sensible height? Isn’t it great?
La Crémaillère: This was an unprecedented success, with loads of people turning up, eating cake and apparently enjoying themselves! (That’s my “Yeah I have friends and they came to my house” face). Like the soldier in a war film who tempts fate by showing someone a picture of his fiancée, I am engaged in telling people how great it is living here. *In the dark recesses of a swamp, an innocent frog croaks cheerfully as it hops towards the mouth of a waiting crocodile*
I’ve never been so excited by utilities. The remarkable thing about the linen closet is not that we have one, but rather that I became deeply enamoured with the fact of having one that I tidied it. I may need help.
This is my room, which has a mezzanine and is therefore a ship. *Waves crash and the ship veers alarmingly towards an jagged outcrop of impenetrable rocks, around which bedraggled seabirds swoop in forlorn circles* 
 Top left: the view from my window. Top right: our building. Bottom left: self explanatory. Bottom right: This is where the builders doing up the place below hang out. They are almost certainly no more than 12 years of age and have a fluffy dog. I’m slightly worried that the Famous Five may have moved in.

The local area is pretty nice apart from the fact that a) someone stole Bonnie’s bike and b) someone very heartless stole my 2€ plastic ladybird shaped bike bell. Perhaps I should have taken this as a warning of what was about to happen… *Beat. A solitary raven caws a requiem for all that is good and true*

The happy photo was taken just before we found out the news, with the intention of showing off my new room. *Cawing of ravens intensifies and a lightning bolt splinters across the ragged, purple clouds, rending a gnarled oak tree in twain – owls screech, terrified, scattering in all directions and dissipating into the endless night*

End of melodrama. Here’s a quick outline of what happened on Monday night, when we went to speak to our landlord to put to bed our misgivings about the spate of visits from potential buyers (during which we were foolishly obliging).

Us: So, about the flat… are you sell-
Him: Oh yeah, I’m selling it. Thinks: and would not have told you until LITERALLY a month before
Us: ………….?
This may have been the longest silence ever to have occurred anywhere, ever. 
Him: You have to move out by April.
Us: ….
……….. help?!?!
Him: It’s fine, there are loads of flats. I need the money.
Us: …..
………..B-b-but we live there!?!
Him: Not any more, you don’t! (Laughs a malicious laugh, turns into a bat and flies into the darkness)
UsBritishly: Terribly sorry to disturb you, we don’t mind one bit, have all our stuff, be my child’s godfather, don’t worry at all, it’s fine, so sorry!

We leave, feeling guilt-stricken and ashamed. 5 min later, realise we have been royally screwed and become Very Angry. And then Very Drunk and hysterical. 

So there you go. I know they say it’s better to have lived in an apartment than never to have lived at all (Actually, that may be a misquote) but I feel kind of cheated, bitter and resentful. Yes, all of the stuff in the pictures above is still great and I plan to make the most of it, but the giddy delight of having a washing machine has paled into insignificance compared to the knowledge that we are going to have to house hunt. The best metaphor I’ve been able to think of is that it’s like someone gave me a bar of chocolate, then mugged me for half of it: technically, I’ve won, but it doesn’t really feel that way.

It’s a shame to have the rug pulled out from under me just when I was really settling into a life here, but it’s not all bad – lots of things are going very well, such as my volunteer work. Also, I’ve still got a flatmate, and in between fits of impotent rage and disappointment we’re actually having a reasonable amount of fun house hunting. We shall see if this zen-like state of acceptance continues…. À la semaine prochaine. 


One thought on “La Vie Domestique: (house) pride goes before a fall…

  1. Good one Rowan. The two unknown objects in the cooking utensils photo are a fondue set, the pot to go on top with little insets to hold the fork things and the meths burner it stands on tokeep the oil hot while you cook delicious pieces of horse or whatever. 🙂 Dad


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