Penguin crime. Lego. Drinking with thin friends. Cat.
Monday, January 23, 2012
My boyfriend is a statistic. You see on the news about graduates applying for hundreds and hundreds of jobs without getting an interview... well, he's that statistic, plugging hopelessly away at a job market where suddenly even a trainee junior assitant intern (unpaid) must have an MBA and fluent Mandarin.
His first job vanished while he was on holiday. He came back to find the office literally gone. For a while he washed dishes at the local pub. And now, finally, he's got a job saving the world in... Manchester.
Now, I love Manchester. It's a wonderful city. And Salford Quays, like any shiny sky palace by the water, has a certain bleak grandeur. But my boyfriend's flat is in Salford – the bit in-between.
When we went up to view it, it seemed nice enough. Horrible street, but the flat itself had been the victim of a gay decorator with more money than sense – an explosion of halogen, chrome, wood and granite, beams exposed, surfaces angled and a Juliet rail dangling over Salford's only tree. It was, in other words, lovely – and the flatmate very laid-back. Mind you, when there's a remote control for your curtains, why wouldn't you be laid-back?
The snag came when I visited for the weekend. It turned out that last time, the laidback flatmate had done “rental tidying” - whipping up a cupboard jumble of ashtrays and magazines that now spilled over everything. It was filthy. Not in a bohemian way but in a “I'm not sure I'd even piss in that toilet” way.
Stuff dangled from the ceilings – some of the wires had held up a fish tank. Others had held up a sling. One of the mirrors in the bathroom was apparently “two-way”, but was luckily so filthy that it no longer worked.
So we spent the weekend tidying and bleaching until it reeked of swimming pool. It's made me cheerier about the cat-hair squalor I live in. Much cheerier. I may take the next year off cleaning.
Salford does have some charms. We've found a Polish Shop that sells 12 flavours of Vodka. But that's about it, really. We sat outside a drag casino waiting for a bus for 20 minutes in rain so fierce even the old ladies tutted, their knuckles tightening on their shopping trolleys.
Mostly, we walked around the Arndale Centre, buying cleaning products and talking brightly about how we were going “to make this work”. And by last thing on Sunday night, we'd kind of done it. It still looked like a brightly sparkling recycling bin, but you could at least touch things without feeling like you were in one of those adverts for “the hidden germs that lurk in your home”.
Come Monday morning I woke up and it felt nice. I even managed to walk back from the shower without my bare feet crunching on a domestic gravel of breadcrumbs, dust and cigarette ash.
Back in the bedroom, my boyfriend was waiting for me. “I've made us coffee,” he said. “We've got five minutes. We can sit in bed and drink it.”
My boyfriend is brilliant. He can salvage any situation. This was, I thought, as I picked up my coffee and sat down on the bed, going to work after all.