Unexpected rough seas

by Suw on September 14, 2011

Hello, all the new people who’ve come here from BoingBoing or Kickstarter or Twitter. It’s nice to see you! You’ll have to excuse me for a moment, though, because this blog post contains 100% unadulterated and somewhat self-pitying me, and not much about Argleton (though I have plans… I do have plans.)

I’m writing this partly because it’s 22:33pm and although I really want to go to sleep I feel a bit bad retiring until Kevin is at least getting ready for bed, because he’s an hour ahead of me in Sarajevo and working like a slave. I’m also writing it to get back to my blogging roots, ie I want to have a good old whine.

Just before Argleton was released, I started a new gig writing for the Indian news website, FirstPost, that Kev and I helped plan and launch earlier in the year. It was a bit hard starting a new gig whilst getting Argleton out the door, but I was looking forward to a life of writing about tech in the mornings and then doing creative things in the afternoons whilst gently ambling towards Ada Lovelace Day on 7 October.

Life, of course, had other plans. Our landlord decided to bump our rent up by 11%, i.e. about £200 pcm. We tried to negotiate, having been good tenants who have looked after the place we thought he might be amenable to, say, an 8% rise, which was still a lot and way over inflation, but kinda within what we felt was reasonable. To cut a long story short, he has basically chucked us out on our ear, giving us a month’s notice to find a new place to live.

Kev, unfortunately, had only a few days left in London before a lot of travel, so we frantically ran around north London and Woking trying to find somewhere new to live. We thought we had a lovely little maisonette, but that fell through. We’re still waiting for confirmation on a two-storey duplex near Woking town centre which we applied for last week. The company doing the references, though, seems to be mostly incompetent and incapable of understanding what a ‘family business’ is or how it is that the people who run a family business do tend to be related to one another.

Ada Lovelace Day is also creeping up on me with alarming alacrity. Having had to put it off to try and ensure we had enough time to sort out the website, sorting out the website has taken more time than I had hoped, just because websites do. I’ve been so stressed first with Argleton, then the new gig, and then this housing stupidity that it’s only recently I’ve been able to give it the love that it requires. I’ve rearranged my expectations that 7 Oct really marks a new beginning for Ada Lovelace Day, but not sure anyone else has. I’m in it for the long run and I have plans, but somehow the fact of there being A Big Day feels a bit like a millstone around my neck. The damn thing can’t just evolve quietly at its own pace, it’s rushed and hurried every year by a single significant date, but I feel sort of stuck with it now.

The earliest we’re going to sign a contract on the new place is next Tuesday because the estate agent is on holiday. And then I need to go all-out on doing all the bill switching and sorting and forwarding and arranging that needs to be done when moving house. Thank fuck I’m hiring people to pack the place and move me, frankly, because if I had to do that as well I’d just lose all will to live. And guess when I have to be out of this place? Yup: 6 October. Perfect timing! Kev’s home for one night on 8th October, then away again for a week, arriving home whilst I’m in Dorset at a bash my mum’s organising. Thankfully, he’s then home for more than 12 hours.

Which is all to say that my plans for the latter half of this year have all been well and truly screwed. So much for working on Argleton promo and the geogame (so nearly finished!). So much for working on The Books of Hay. So much for spending some time binding books. I made a beautiful leather-bound journal at a Falkiners’ course in August, and haven’t even had a chance to take decent photos of it yet.

That said, it looks like I am on course to finish that bloody round tablecloth I’m crocheting. Should be done about a day or two before I move out, leaving the table it was made to fit behind.

Still, it could be worse. I’ve had a good whine now, and I feel a bit better, though I’ll feel a lot better which this whole hideous mess is behind me. I have moments where I feel like I’m only clinging on by my fingernails. I nearly lost it on the phone to the reference agency this afternoon, and the poor chap from the movers could easily tell how stressed and frustrated I was. If you do have interactions with me over the next few weeks, do bear all this in mind and give me a big hug. I could do with one.

I know that I’m not alone – quite a few of my friends are going through similarly difficult times at the moment, especially when it comes to rent increases and house moving. The market is insane, with properties being snapped up the day they are put on the agency’s books. Rents are through the roof and it’s increasingly difficult to justify spending so much money to line someone else’s big greedy pockets.

Anyway, yes, sorry. Bear with me. Normal service will be resumed around mid-October. Aaah, only a month to go of hellaciousness. Only a month to go.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Adam September 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Less than a week after I heard about your situation, a friend of my wife’s was given her marching orders by her landlord and is discovering that she can’t afford to stay in the area she’s rented in for the last decade…

It seems to be a real, but deeply under-reported problem.

Suw Charman September 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

At lunch yesterday, a friend said she too had had her rent jacked up by £200 pcm. Another said she’s trying to buy because it’s cheaper than renting if you can actually get a mortgage. I know one person who was thrown out of her flat by nasty landlord in Brighten (you probably know who I’m talking about), someone else who’s also left London because of the cost of rent/living… it’s not just us.

Estate agents are turning over property faster than I’ve ever seen before. I’ve never, ever seen the market so fast that you can ring *all* the agents in a given area, and none of them have anything. Even the estate agents are complaining they have a fraction of the rental stock they used to.

I tried to get Peston interested on Twitter, but he didn’t even reply. But someone needs to do some looking because I’m pretty sure that this is a bigger issue than it seems.

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