When I first moved to the UK I was slightly taken aback that one could rent a flat furnished. It suited me perfectly well, having flow across the Atlantic with only enough belongings that could fit in an admittedly overweight case, but still, no room for a bed or anything like that. But when you go round and look at a flat, and realise that you’re going to be sleeping in the same bed that someone else has, along with who ever they invited as an overnight guest, you begin to get a bit fussy. However, with the rental market in London currently, you quite frankly don’t care who slept in the bed last as long as you’re next.
It was a similar situation when I was flat-hunting in Bristol. I was commuting to and from London, which, door to door took me the better part of two and a quarter hours, and I was competing with students. Now, I wasn’t competing with your average undergraduate students, I was competing with British students who were wealthy enough to have afforded the fees at Oxford or Cambridge, but didn’t quite have the grades to get them in. They were entitled and on the bitter side, with Mummy and Daddy footing the bill. I quickly realised I was going to have to lower my standards. Add to those students the postgrads coming from equally if not wealthier families from Asia, and it’s lucky I’m not living under my desk at the office.
So I took a flat that, if I’d had more time and energy to spend looking around, I probably would’ve have, but here I am. The bed, as it was, wasn’t much. It appeared, during the initial five minutes I spent in the flat before signing up to a six month let, fine. Upon closer inspection – and by that I mean after my incredibly sensible friend brought me up, set about unpacking , cleaning and putting sheets on the bed. She dispatched her boyfriend and I to do ‘A Big Shop’. We failed utterly. And by ‘my sheets’ I mean the ones they aren’t using anymore and had given me. I’m a fan of the hand-me-down.
The mattress was about two to three inches thick and there were stains. We did not discuss these but when we returned from Sainsbury’s she simply announced that the mattress was manky and that I was to buy a new one immediately. She also informed me that it would not be suitable for someone with my weakened spine to sleep on. I did not question her, I simply called up the website – not of IKEA, as that would’ve required far too many taxis – but of a nice little shop called, what else, the Futon Shop.
I have used their services before when I was in similar circumstances up in Glasgow. Called up the website, chose the best traditionally made Japanese futon I could afford and waited for the delivery, which in Glasgow took several days. But being as there was a shop just down the road from me in Bristol, I knew I could have it delivered.
I tried ringing a few minicab services that boasted six to eight seat taxis but they were having none of me. It’s a student town after all and I suspect they saw me coming a mile away. Never mind, a quick whizz round tinternet brought up a man calling himself KGB and boasting a van with hourly rates of £15. Done. Phoned him up and arranged to do the transfer that evening.
We met at the back of the shop and he hefted the mattress into the van and I hopped into the passenger seat. Turns out, though he’s Irish, he’d lived near The Mom’s in Canada for some time and rather enjoyed himself. We chatted away until we got to my place, which has in its name the word ‘Lodge’ which hints at far grander environs.
It’s a bit spooky in the dark what with the general lack of lighting and all the trees, but we got the mattress inside whereupon I asked if he wanted to heft it up two flights of stairs or take The Shining-style lift which is basically a dumbwaiter for people. He took one look at the lift and started climbing the stairs. The futon was installed in mere minutes.
It was, however, perched atop the manky mattress which was perched upon the box spring making it quite the effort to launch myself onto it each night. Eventually, I took the nasty mattress out to the garage – wrapped in the plastic the futon came in, don’t worry – where it will stay until I move house again.
I always look forward to having good sleeps when I’m home at The Mom’s, but I suspect the mattress I sleep on at home is not the one I’m used to. The Mom swears up and down it is but it’s in her best interests to do so. I’m considering bringing the new futon with me – or purchasing one of their handy bed in a bag things. Worst comes to worst, I can just unfurl it at the foot of the canaries and drift off to the sound of bird song.