It’s Sunday morning. I get an email alert. I open it. I feel sick. I told you a few weeks ago that another crisis was brewing, but I thought it might be averted. It hasn’t been. It has landed.
The cottage I’ve been renting for years, and renovated for nearly two years, has been put up for sale. There online is my furniture, my lovely handmade Neptune kitchen. Marble work surface. The advert says the cottage has ‘a roll-top bath’. Yes, mine. Although I’ve had a mortgage agreed, as I knew this might happen, the amount I can borrow won’t stretch to the asking price. The reason it’s on for so much money is, of course, because I spent just shy of £40,000 on it.
When I moved in there was no central heating. Laminate floor that was curling upwards. The ancient hob caught fire, destroying the existing fake wood work surface. A cupboard door fell off, hitting me on the head. The bathroom was mouldy, the walls and ceilings covered in asbestos. In North Yorkshire, outside so much with the horses, I need to be warm. Plus I work from home. I got permission to do it up.
Now I’m being ousted. The cottage isn’t big enough for more than one person, so I imagine it will become yet another holiday let in an ocean of them. Or a second home. I might return and daub graffiti.
Of course, everyone, including my accountant, told me not to renovate a cottage I don’t own, but I felt I deserved a nice home. I don’t wake each morning thinking, ‘How can I stuff up my life today?’ But I always seem to be cornered, with no escape, no other option. I can’t live in a dump: I get depressed.
It’s expensive, renting. People ride roughshod over you. The estate agent had turned up unannounced and started taking photographs. Not even a ‘Do you mind if…?’ Not one single word, as if I’m invisible, although I’m standing there, weak with shock.
I’d had to move out for months while work was done. I stayed with a friend, which wasn’t easy as she was terrified I would give her Covid. Then renovation work stopped for a year due to lockdown, which meant I didn’t even have a kitchen tap. I put in new light switches and sockets, replaced the 25-year-old fuse box (the reason the cooker caught fire), a new boiler, flagstones, underfloor heating. The Devol kitchen taps alone were £360.
I don’t want to move again. It’s hard to rent anywhere with four dogs. And, most importantly, my horses and Nic’s horses are, currently, right outside. I would never cope with looking after them on my own if I had to drive anywhere. With Nic off sick, I’m on my knees, despite the trolls online who post chippy messages. Here’s one: ‘Oh dear. Liz Jones is having to look after her own horses for a change.’ I do that anyway, thanks (trolls hate it when you type ‘thanks’), but currently I have Nic’s to look after too. What would they like me to do? Sack her? Leave them unattended while I’m away for work? Someone else wrote, ‘It’s not like Liz travels anywhere to write her Diary.’
Yeah, you are so right! I’ve only been to Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Bolivia, New York, Paris, Milan, Canada, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Tuscany, Bali, Rome, Venice, Bangladesh, Florida, LA. All in the course of work. All last-minute: I was told to get on a plane to Venice with two hours’ notice. I had to hare down the motorway to Manchester airport, half-dressed, screeching down the phone to Nic: ‘Which terminal?! Which TERMINAL???!!!!’ Just leave the horses in the field to rot, shall we? The collies to bark and starve.
It’s funny, isn’t it, that the people who try to do the right thing always get clobbered the most.