I have a home again! Me and my NEW FLATMATE have already made soup together and frozen some of it in an effort to be Healthy, Wholesome and Frugal. We love soup. We've made two different types and we're going to make more and live off soup and fill our freezer with soup and think of new soups and eat our soup, feeling smug and soupy. Although we both agree that the big chunks of fried chorizo we sprinkle liberally over each soup we have is the best bit. In fact, I'm not sure that we don't just love cured, fatty sausage rather than the actual soup.
It feels weird calling it 'my flat', as if I shouldn't be allowed because I don't really live here... But I do live here, I moved in on Sunday. It doesn't feel like I've moved in properly yet because I've just gone one big bag with me, full of clothes- I haven't been back to Any Northern Mill Town since I arrived. Not sure what outfit I had in mind when I packed one pair of jeans, three black skirts, three tops, a jumper, a leotard, my kimono and five jackets. Maybe I thought nobody would notice I was wearing the same outfit every day for six weeks on the trot if I kept changing my coat?
The nice thing about staying with friends is that I've been able to wear all their clothes. I miss Clare's tapestry pencil skirt and Beth's green coat with the big lapels. It feels like the skirt and coat are kittens that have run away in the night. My clothes are like the mingy dog that stayed behind, that I didn't want in the first place... apart from my kimono.
It's not kimono weather though.
What was I talking about?
Ah, I wanted to talk about how I have been staying with friends for so long, in an attempt to subtly explain myself to all the imaginary people that are slagging me off, saying things like 'Can't believe she has been staying with friends for so long.' They might be imaginary critics but their comments sting.
I never intended to couch-surf for six weeks (or, more accurately, 'bed hop', as I've been sleeping in beds the whole time but 'bed hop' makes it sound as if I've spent the last few weeks exploring the London swingers scene) but that's the way it had to be.
It meant living make-believe lives in each part of London: busy Brixton bee with Clare, walking home from south London pubs and parties; a lady who calmly lives in one of the swankiest parts of town, with TC and OJ; a young professional, crossing over canals on my to the tube with Lauren, Claire and Jen in east London; and for the last two weeks of my prolonged 'mooching' period I lived with Beth in North London, not too far from where 'my flat' is.
The weird thing about North London is that I faintly remembered a life lived there. Since I was little I've always imagined the north of the city when I've thought about London and I've thought of tall houses, leafy streets, mohair jumpers, autumn. When I went to stay with Beth it was exactly how I'd always pictured it, felt it. When I moved to my new flat on Sunday the feeling that I was stepping into a memory was even stronger.
After I'd moved in, my mum called me. She mentioned that she and my dad used to live round the corner from where I'm living. I don't know why she hasn't mentioned this before, I didn't even know my mum and dad lived together when they were in London!
My mum said she always remembers it being autumn when she thinks back to living in North London, exactly how I described it.
It's obvious to me and my mum that memories were passed into my subconscious, either whilst I was in the womb or by magic. I've told a few of other people this spine-tingling story and not all of them were supportive of our theory. When I said 'maybe it was a memory I have from the womb' to one person (who shall remain nameless), he said 'maybe you are mad'.
Mad about North London baby! From what I remember of it as a foetus inside the womb... haven't had chance to explore it yet, this time around.
I did have something else I wanted to tell you.
When I was staying with Beth, she needed to take the keys one day. She told me to just shut the door behind me. But when I went to open the door, a couple of hours after everybody else in the flat had left for work, it wouldn't open. One of Beth's flatmates had locked the door on the outside.
After my initial panic, I went into the living room to see if any windows were open. I'd completely forgotten about their balcony and luckily, the key was in the door.
I stepped out onto the balcony and looked down. They live on the second floor, but the flat below has a balcony too, so I considered lowering myself down onto it. A builder was walking past and I yelled to him.
"Excuse me have you got a ladder? I'm locked in the flat and I need to get to work!"
He was coming to look at the gas in the flat above, so I suggested climbing up onto their balcony, then he could let me in. He said he could only let me in if the residents were at home to give permission. He went into the building and I looked up at the balcony above- it was a ledge that stuck out directly above my head, there was no way I could get up there.
A woman in the car park suddenly shouted up at me, she was a maintenance worker and she'd spoken to the gas man in the stairway. She told me she didn't have a big enough ladder, but she'd seen some painters up the road doing up the front of a building, so she could go and ask them.
By this point I was rather enjoying the drama of the whole thing. I rang the pub I told them I was going to be late. (Luckily the manager didn't think I was a big, fat liar.) I kept trying to call Beth... no answer.
Two painters rolled up, without their ladder. They wanted to assess the problem first, as if the maintenance woman and I needed a second opinion and a different flat-escaping method could be employed. After a quick conversation shouted up to me on my balcony, they agreed the only thing for it was a big ladder. I felt just like Juliet, only instead of declaring their love for me, they said "If you fall, it's not our fault. You can't sue us."
They came back with the ladder and put it against the wall next to the balcony, where there was a wide ledge I could step onto. I climbed down without falling off and was only fifteen minutes for work!
That seemed like such a better story as it was happening. I'm afraid this might have been my most boring blog post ever.
I had some really, really lovely food the other day, The Boy I Went For A Drink with' is very versatile, he can turn himself into The Boy Who I Ate Some Food With quite easily. We went to a Pakistani restaurant in Whitechapel called Needo's. That's the kind of food I missed when I was in France, it was spicy, but actually spicy, not like the 'spicy' Thai soup we used to serve at the restaurant and French customers would often send it back because it was too hot for them even though it tasted like coconut flavoured yoghurt.