Stains…On My Conscience (An Ideal Tenant Confesses Her Hidden Secrets)

Home, House, Sink, Interior, DesignI have a confession.  It still weighs on my conscience after all this time because I suppose I did not do the strictly right thing…you know letter of the law and all.  Nope…it was definitely not right, because the old conscience still tugs at me and says “Naughty Girl!” I have not even told my beloved parents because they would have pointed out exactly what my conscience already knows.

I lived at home with my parents until I was 25. no 26…hold on, I think I am wrong again. I moved out of home six months after I had the the fourth and last in a row of surgical operations and I was finally given the all clear after a two year battle with illness…which means I was…gulp!  Am I really that old?

Let’s start on a more cheerful note…hold on if I was born in…how frightening it is that I am not sure of my own age?  Well what is age?  I don’t see why we should not live forever.  The most important thing is that I only have a handful of grey hairs.  Like my Dad…Dad is seventy…he is still a kind of dark blonde with the occasional honey streak and a rare grey hair…I would be so chuffed if I have inherited Dad’s hair genes and at the age of seventy am still mostly golden headed.  There is nothing wrong with silver hair.

Back to my shameful confession.  After I left home, I had several different forms of accommodation.* (SEE FOOTNOTE IF YOU ARE REMOTELY INTERESTED IN THE DETAILS)  But this is a story about the first time I rented a little flat and had to sign a twenty-eight page contract with a landlord.  It was kind of scary to me.  Looking back, there was nothing really to fear.  In fact I liked having such a clear understanding of the terms.  I do like rules…they make me feel secure.

Now, if you have been reading my previous posts, you will know I really enjoy cleaning, house-keeping, ironing and pretty much any “domestic” activities and practical work. Sorry to sing my own praises…but I am a dream tenant!  I keep my accommodation immaculate.  It’s just the way I have been trained.

But I have a confession to 20180601_192241-1make.  I have a stain on my conscience.  I have a secret that goes back to when I was newly in the little flat and had just signed a formal contract.  I was a bit nervous of my landlord.

So the incident that I am going to reveal occurred within a few weeks of my moving into the lovely little flat.  It involved a bottle of red wine.

I took the wrapper off the top and then plunged the corkscrew into the cork and twisted it tight.  As I was turning, something did not feel right.  The handles were not raising as they should have.

I realized there was something wrong with the cork.  It was crumbling.  The corkscrew was not effective in a crumbly cork.  So instead, I tried to dig the cork out.  Little by little it came out.  It was an excruciatingly slow process.

Then something truly awful occurred.  As I was digging out cork I did not realize that I was also pushing the cork down slightly.  There came a point when the pressure from the implement I was using pushed the cork right down the neck of the bottle and it crashed into the red wine.  It was so fast and furious I could barely take it in.  A moment later I stood there with red wine dripping down my face and all over my clothes.

sofaBut that was nothing compared to what I then discovered to my utter horror.  Red wine…splattered all over the kitchen worktops, down the cupboards and all over the sofa.  The sofa!!! Dark red spots.  I knew that was the urgent priority.  I doused the sofa with water…I was distraught.  My insides were in knots.  Thoughts of being evicted were racing through my mind.

After I had soaked the entire sofa…I knew I would have to wait for it to dry.  I then wiped all of the kitchen work surfaces, the cupboards, the floor.  Every time I stopped, I noticed more wine splashes and streaks.  I was really kind of tearful.

As for the wine bottle…I was so grieved by the catastrophe that had just exploded ruining my plans for the evening (which were to relax with a glass of wine) that I was at first inclined to pour it all down the sink.  I rejected that idea as I am such a penny pincher, I don’t like to waste anything.  I poured some out into a glass.  It was full of crumbled cork.  Aaaaah sigh.  So then I took out a large water jug and put a sieve over it.  I poured the wine out and most of the cork was trapped in the sieve.  But there was still little remnants of cork in the wine.  So I sieved it once more, but this time with some kitchen paper.  That seemed to do the trick, although I am sure some wine was absorbed by the kitchen paper.

I did not feel like drinking the wine though.  I was quite shattered by whatgirl dreaming had happened.  I decided I just wanted to be asleep.  That is what I did…I escaped my agonies by slipping into bed and drifting away into a state where I could dream happier thoughts.

The next morning I woke up and instantly remembered the sofa. I rushed into the kitchenette / living area where the sofa was.  I was filled with relief when I saw the sofa.  There were no wine stains anywhere.  I checked over every inch.  All of the red wine splashes had vanished.  The sofa was still a tiny bit damp, but I was sure that everything would be fine.  Aaaaah!  I was overjoyed that all my anxiety could melt away.  No eviction for me afterall!

I went out to work and forgot all about the incident with the red wine.  After a twelve hour shift I was pleased to return to my adorable little abode.  I made myself a light snack and poured myself a small glass of the red wine I had retrieved after the disaster the night before.  After I had eaten I lay down on the sofa to rest.

That is when I saw it!  Why did I not check the night before?  As I caught sight of the ceiling all my pain rose up within me again.  Huge streaks and splashes of red across the white ceiling!  I jumped up and climbed on top of the work-top with a damp cloth.  It didn’t help matters.  It just smudged and spread the red stains.  I could see that the only way to rescue the ceiling was with paint…white paint.

I knew I had seen some paint in one of the out-buildings.  I decided that I should have a look and see what I could find.  I had a little torch which I took with me as I crept outside and made my way into the outbuilding.  I had to climb over the lawn mower, tool boxes and step-ladders to get to the shelves with tins of paint.

paint tinsBy torchlight I looked through all the different types of paint.  There was a lot of gloss and wood stain.  There were oil-based and water-based paints of various colours and an impressive collection of shades of magnolia.  Could I find white emulsion paint?  Nope!  Then I started to wonder if my ceiling was pure white.  I came to the conclusion that it might be a just “off-white”.  It certainly was not a glaring white.  So I picked a paint at last, what seemed to be the lightest shade of magnolia on the shelves.

Back into the kitchen.  I did not have any proper paintbrushes at the time.  Normally if I was painting a whole ceiling, I would have used a roller  But I was hoping I could just patch up the the stains.  The only paint brushes I had were ones I used for dusting.  Well…one of them would have to do.

Well I had to put about six coats of paint on to the ceiling before the red stains were undetectable.  I hoped that the paint would dry lighter and resemble the rest of the ceiling.  Only…it didnt!

During the two years I was in that accommodation, nobody ever seemed to notice the big magnolia patch in the middle of my white ceiling.  Or if they did notice, they were too polite to ask.  I was too scared to tell my Landlord.  Pathetic I know!  I was young and very afraid.  They never mentioned it and I have never heard a word from them since asking me about the dark patch in the ceiling.

Whenever I have bought a bottle of wine since, I make sure it has a screw top…I don’t trust corks!

Aaaaagh…I may have “got away with it”…but I tell you the stains on my conscience over that red wine have still not washed away!  Perhaps this confession will help appease my troubled conscience!

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*Firstly, I was a lodger.  My landlord and landlady did not ask me to sign any contract.  I gave them the money for my lodgings once a week and I also prepared a little receipt which I signed and asked them to sign so that there were never any disputes about whether I had paid.

Then I moved to a very beautiful home on a great country estate. That was all sealed on a handshake…we had a “gentleman’s agreement”…which we both honoured.  Then I moved into some accommodation owned by friends who also owned a country estate.  They too did not want to have a formal contract, they just asked of me a certain amount of rent.

Then I became a full-time volunteer…that was a bit like being in the military…basic accommodation was provided (aaaaaaaah happiest days of my life…and that is where I am going back to, once as I have had a clear CT scan!…I still have unusual swellings almost three years after that night in the park – I just keep telling them it is because I am so brainy!!!)  I have also had some other tied accommodation roles as a house-keeper in various private homes.

Not A Social Drinker Anymore

Springtime, Spring, Flowers, Rose, Rosé Wine, WineMy Dad always used to say, “You should never drink alone”. He had a member of his family who was addicted to alcohol.

In all the years we were at home, there was no alcohol stored in our house. Dad was not against us having any alcohol at all. But he recommended that we buy a bottle and share it between us. He wasn’t keen on drinking it at all, but Mum and my sisters and I would share a bottle of wine – and then it was gone. There was no store of wine of any other alcohol.

Some of my friends think that was odd. I just accepted it as Dad trying to teach us moderation. Some of my friends actually have a similar approach as my Dad. They don’t usually buy alcohol to store at home. They would only ever have a drink when out with friends or family having a meal in a restaurant.

ccccccccchbvchbjBut of course pubs and restaurants are all closed at the moment. I was telling a friend of mine that I have started to buy a bottle of rose (which I dilute with lemonade) as a summer aperitif. It’s kind of odd…getting into the habit of having a tipple all on my own.

The one drink I would usually be offered at parties at this time of year would be Pimms. It is such an iconic flavour of summer (and it has been feeling like summer lately.)

Aaaaah sigh! I always used to be a moderate social drinker, or sometimes I would just have a diet coke. Now I find myself wanting to buy a bottle or something so I can have a tipple at the weekend and let my hair down.

First Day Of My New Job

I had been offered a post which included accommodation in London. We had agreed the terms of ten hours work each week (possible occasional overtime) and I would received £200 per week and free accommodation. It did seem unusual to me as I mentioned in my previous post.

I should write more about what happened in the two days prior to my arrival – it was probably one of the worst departures from my family I could possibly have anticipated. They have no idea to this day what happened after their fond farewell to me. But it was awful for me. On my way back to London – everything that could possibly go wrong with my journey did go wrong and to this day my family have no idea how much so.

leaving home.png

I even ended up sleeping in the long grass of a field not far from a railway station where my connection had been cancelled. This might sound crazy, yes, I actually think it was. But I did not have enough money to go and find a hotel room, I did not have a mobile phone, and I did not want my family to have to drive for hours to come and fetch me. I was not going to tell you that it was an ordeal for me. You might not think that roughing it for one night is that bad, but for me it was dreadful. I was a wreck that night. One year previously I had been lying in long grass whilst a stranger brutally … and left me to die. Even though I faced some awful challenges, I was so afraid of ever having to sleep outside again.

And looking back, I can see that I was an incredibly vulnerable mixed up cookie. I was so determined to get back to London and to get back on my feet. I did not want to be wrapped up in cotton wool by my family. If I had contacted my family they probably would never have allowed me to return to London – which is exactly why I did not contact them.

I moved into the “tied-accommodation” on a Sunday. I was very tired. The owner of the property was pleased I had arrived and offered to take me out to dinner that evening. I expressed my gratitude for his offer, but said I would like to settle and to have an early night because I was very tired after travelling. He went out for dinner to a restaurant and I was in the property all alone for my first evening. I did go to sleep very early.

headacheI was woken by the customary head pain which has been a part of my life since I was attacked. I showered and dressed and went downstairs. Nobody was awake yet. The house was silent. I had brought some cereal with me and so I boiled some water and ate my cereal with a mug of black coffee. I kept on expecting someone to appear, but nobody did. So I thought I would take a look at the cleaning equipment. There were various cleaning sprays and bleach and a couple of scrunched up and stained disposable cloths.

I decided I would need to obtain some decent cleaning equipment and I fetched my laptop to see what I could order online. I ordered a flick duster, microfiber cloths and a buffing cloth and some white vinegar. I had noticed there was lime-scale all over the chrome fittings and glass in the bathroom I was using and all over the kitchen. I intended to go into battle against that lime-scale. I thought I could walk into town later and buy some toothbrushes and sponge scourers for cleaning. I also sent an e-mail which I copied to several members of my family telling them everything was fine and the journey had been smooth. I did not want anyone worrying about me.

laundryThere were some clothes that had been drying on an airer in the utility room. I decided to iron them and fold them neatly. I had noticed the hard floors looked very grubby so I swept the hard floor in the large kitchen dining area and mopped the floor. Of course now that the floor was wet, the owner of the property appeared in his robe, looking half asleep still and asked me what on earth I was doing. It was almost lunch-time by now and I had been waiting for him to appear since about eight o’clock in the morning. I just explained that I had not been sure where to start so I had done what I could see needed doing.

man in robe.jpgIt turned out that the night before when he had gone out for dinner he had eaten and drank rather a lot and arrived home very late. He told me he did not normally sleep in so late. I showed him what I had done and he thanked me and said it was not really necessary and not to wear myself out. He said he wanted me to relax and enjoy myself. I told him I would like to walk into town to by some personal things. He offered to drive me once he was showered and dressed, but I said I would really enjoy the walk. He seemed a little irritated that I wanted to go out on my own, but I knew I had done more than he had expected on my first day and I wanted to buy some useful cleaning equipment.

I was out for a couple of hours. I bought the cleaning equipment I needed and also some food and toiletries in the supermarket. It was June and the weather was delicious. It was really good to be out in the sunshine. I was so glad to be back in London, although this part of London was completely new to me. I felt a bit better now that I had found my way around the town and knew where important shops/services I might need were located.

When I returned the gentleman seemed a little disgruntled that I had taken so long and asked me if I had been all the way to Timbuktu to do my shopping. I apologised. I asked if there was any work he wanted me to do that day. He said I had done more than was needed already. I showed him the cleaning schedule I had drawn up on my laptop that morning while I was waiting for him and asked if he wanted to make any changes. He just laughed and asked what was the matter with me. He told me just to take it easy. He wanted to get to know more about me, after all, we were going to be living in the same property. He said he would stay in and have dinner with me that evening and that he had bought some vegetarian ready-meals from Marks & Spencers for me. He said after dinner he wanted us to sit down and have a chat so he could get to know me better.

So that evening, after a Marks & Spencer vegetarian ready meal, we sat down to chat. He had two sofas either side of a coffee table, so we sat facing each other. He offered me a glass of wine. I declined, but he was rather insistent, so I accepted. I sipped it very slowly. He started with asking me general personal questions about myself and my family and where I had grown up and my goals in life. I tried to ask him the same questions but he didn’t seem very forthcoming with information about himself. He wanted to know more about me. His questions started to become more and more personal and he started talking about sex and asking what I enjoyed.

If you could have seen what was going on inside my head at that moment, it would have been pure rage. Now…I think any employee would feel more than a little uncomfortable with their boss asking these questions on the first day of employment – but I feel I had extra reasons after I had been the victim of a serious crime just a year earlier.

I tried every response. At first I tried to deflect the question, then I out rightly stated that it was a personal subject I did not want to talk about. He told me I needed to loosen up and relax.

He tried to top up my glass. I told him I did not want any more wine. He took my wine glass and poured more wine into it. I looked at him with a stern expression. I suddenly felt very angry with him. But I had to control it. I had very raw emotions that he had triggered, but he did not know what had happened to me, so I could not explode. I had to be able to deal with men who made me feel uncomfortable without treating them as criminals. This was his home after all. I had to learn to be assertive and deal with any unacceptable behaviour in a dignified way.

I stated that I hoped he was going to drink the wine he had just poured because I certainly was not. He told me to drink up. I was very firm. I told him that wine makes me sleepy. One glass was enough.

“I am feeling very tired after the wine I have already had so I am going to sleep now.” I stood up and walked away. He looked very annoyed.

The next morning…

…well, I am going to start a new post with what happened afterwards, because I don’t think you want a post which takes an age to read.