L i f e S t o r y O n N e t a d e l i c a
After leaving college I worked for company A for five years and left to join company B, where I am now. I got the job offer from company A on the last day of college. Naturally, everyone was horribly drunk from 11am onwards. I'd blown the rest of my overdraft on a wrecked car the day before for some bizarre reason (I couldn't drive, it was a Vauxhall Viva that cost 150 quid). After the day was spent in pubs, someone came up with the idea of driving around in the college grounds for a bit. I crashed the car before we'd left the car park (I said I couldn't drive). We went back to the pub. In the evening we found our house; a housemate was lying unconcious in the hall, phone still in hand. As soon as I put the phone back on the hook it rang - it was my soon-to-be boss offering me the job at company A! Hooray! I was pissed! I couldn't speak. "Haaaaaaaagh great, 'sreally good, thanks". Someone fell down the stairs. I broke open the cherry vodka and we tried to watch Withnail & I again. Fade to black.
I worked at company A for five years and lived in five houses in the time. After six years of shared house existence, including student time, I'd had enough. I yearned for a place of my own, so I decided to give all my salary to the worst landlord in the country and rent an apartment for myself. Here's a photo of the house.
I rented the roof. It consisted of a small bedroom, a small front room, a square metre behind the front door, and a kitchenette. The kitchenette had two square metres of floorspace and a Baby Belling (two antique hobs and an oven you couldn't fit a tin of baked beans in). It had no window, and the ceiling sloped grotesquely. Hot water was supplied by a box on the wall with a pipette pointing towards the sink.
The flat had no heating or insulation. It was ten feet away from the River Thames and the whole house had been neglected since 1840. The result was that, even on a hot summer's day, the flat was freezing cold and damp. The sun never pointed towards a window (there were only two windows anyway). I rented the flat in summer 1991. By autumn I wished I was dead. That winter, the pipes froze (no heating). I couldn't afford to buy a fan heater, so I used to sit on the damp sofa all evening in my overcoat, shivering uncontrollably. Everything was infected with that horrid, dead, icy dampness. The flat was so cold that in winter it was warmer on the street than inside. I actually opened the windows in the depths of winter to warm the place up a bit. I felt so desperate I remember crying because I couldn't even make that British standby, a cup of tea (no water to make it with).
After the landlord blamed me for the pipes freezing ("You've got to keep them warm"), I decided to buy a Calor gas heater. It would take five minutes' effort to light, and once it was burning, would last half an hour before sputtering out. Another effect of the dampness. I contracted some kind of chest infection and spent the next three weeks coughing my guts up. I was like a moth to a flame with that gas fire and used to sit on the floor a few inches away from it, increasingly fearing that I would one day seize up and be found dead of hypothermia. Soon, I began to see Jimi Hendrix' face in the flame. This was not hallucigenia - other people confirmed the apparition. Perhaps they were humouring me. I began to lose it. While I never actually freaked out enough to lose my job, I did go through a private hell that seemed to have no end.
Here's a recipe.
Mix of sunflower/rapeseed and olive oil in a big saucepan
Add onions, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and garlic
Tin of tinned tomatoes
Vegetable stock cube
Teaspoon of Marmite
Half teaspoon of mustard
Herbs and bay leaves
Three handfuls of Vegemince
Two handfuls of chopped cabbage
Two handfuls of chopped carrot (optional - it changes the character of the dish)
Bit of water if required to cover everything
Leave to simmer for 40 minutes or more. Cover the pan if you can.
Eat with pasta
It's heart-warmingly delicious and satisfingly robust (you can muck it around as much as you like and it'll always be a good meal). It's surprisingly easy and quick to make, and it doesn't require you to go out to the shops and buy ridiculous ingredients that you never have in the house, like some recipes do.
Back to the plot. During the summer, the flat was pleasant enough to be able to write in, so someone took a photo of me doing that (note the jumper even in summer).
This is my company B publicity photo. It's not good, so I took the liberty of bending it around a bit (all facial features are mutated, honest).
That's all for now. Lots more ramblings to be done soon so don't forget to check this page daily (you know you want to).
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