One week of love later, I realized that I only had 1 week left to find a new home. I called Dan to find out if his friend Simon, my former landlord, had a room available in one of his houses. Dan’s answering machine informed that he was in Taipei to visit his parents. I managed to reach Raffaele who knew a girl from Rome who had a room to let.
I called the number Raffaele had given me and I spoke to Alessia, a girl from Bari who was renting the second room in the flat. After a short description, I said: “OK, I’ll take it”. I could not be too picky with my budget and waiting another hour could have meant losing the bargain. My move was planned for the following Monday. I did not see the need to view the flat: it could have not been worse than the one I was living in.
As the accommodation problem was solved, I only needed to get a job. Easy task. 24 hours later I started working for my previous employer at the fast-food restaurant. “It’s just a temporary job. I need it to pay the bills until I’ll find a better one!” I kept on telling myself, while I was trying to convince my future boss I intended to start a career grilling burgers there.
The following week, on Monday, I had arranged to meet Alessia at 3pm, right in front of Brixton underground station. That day, at 2pm, I walked to Edgware Road Underground Station with my huge and extremely heavy two bags, I went down the stairs and I read the sign that the trains were delayed due to signal failure. I sat and waited, my mobile phone was out of credit and I knew I was going to miss my appointment. Two hours later I was in Brixton, I came out of the station and I saw no one was waiting there. I thought Alessia must have returned home and I went to the phone booth right next to the tube entrance to give her a call. My bags were way too big to fit in the telephone box, so I left them outside and I kept the door open to keep an eye on them. I took everything out of my pocket, grabbed the BT telephone card, placed my wallet and the piece of paper with Alessia’s contact details on the small black shelf and I dialed the number. Alessia was indeed at home and she promised she would have reached me in 15 minutes. I went out to move my bags a couple of meters away, as I saw a woman going into the phone booth. I followed her quickly and I managed to grab my wallet before she did. Grinning, she turned her face and said: “Nearly… Welcome to Brixton”.
The flat, which was somehow better than my previous one, had its down sides as well. Alessia had converted the living room into her massive bedroom, excluding me from its use, except on laundry days. The kitchen was clean but tiny. The right wall of my bedroom was wet due to some leaking water, which seemed coming down from the flat above. In the bathroom an extremely old washing machine was uncomfortably placed between the sink and the bathtub. There was a box of tools under the sink, which was needed on laundry days. During those unfortunate days, I had to remove temporarily the pipe from the sink and fix it to the machine, place the dirty water pipe into the bathtub, connecting the machine to the mains with a 6-meter extension cable through the hallway under Alessia’s bedroom’s door to the only functioning plug in the flat. Last but not least, the electricity had to be “charged” at the drug store around the corner through a blue plastic key.