Life Is A Chess Game Living In A Flat (part 1) – Nothing Is Ever Simple or Straightforward

Like chess, every square inch of space counts when you live in a flat with a lot of stuff! Each appliance, piece of furniture or gadget has its own special area of residence, and moves within the confines of the flat (the chessboard) with regulated rules. Any game play is always different and circumstances change accordingly, but the rule of play remains the same. So any new piece of furniture/appliance must adhere to the laws of the game.

As a couple we have a huge amount of books, cds, a large soft team of stuffed animals, as well as clothes, furniture, musical instruments and appliances to accommodate. With only one small boiler cupboard for storage we have nowhere else to hide things away. So EVERYTHING becomes multi-purpose in use, where wardrobe tops become like attics, and the bottom of them like basements. Drawer unit tops act like extra shelving and cavernous cupboards become storage areas for a melee of objects.  Old suitcases store my out of season clothing held in vacuum-bags. These reside in the huge space under the back bedroom bed, specifically bought with that in mind. Memorabilia boxes are under beds too.

Any new object of significant size is bought after considerable “brain wattage” has been expended by yours truly. I know the whole process will involve a serious amount of upheaval and physical effort on my part. So I need to feel mentally robust and physically strong before the endurance campaign begins.

Last year our old TV with a “back of bus” rear end and a large footprint gave up. We considered having no telly at all, then a small twenty something compact screen that would be unobtrusive. Checking the Argos sales and models available to deliver, we ended up with a 55” curve screen whopper. Thus ensued a back breaking week long realignment and deep clean of the living room to fit the newbie in. We have a distinct lack of plugs in the flat and this was a contributing factor in the rearrange, as well as having enough wall space the TV could be placed up against.

In November 2014 asbestos fibre build up was discovered behind access panels in our kitchen. The offending material had been removed from upper flats and the debris from the job had accumulated on the ground floor. We had to move out for a minimum of four days for the cleanup to be done. I had to move most of the stuff from the kitchen and so small gadgets, pots and pans, crockery, cutlery, trolley units and food packs became new ornaments dotted around the flat. Any available space in the back bedroom was consumed completely, and the living room took its share too. When the workmen arrived they said “oh the cooker, fridge and freezer will have to go but the washing machine can stay!” An hour followed of exasperated cursing, scraped knuckles and “iron-woman” hauling. Somehow I manoeuvred the larder fridge into the bedroom where it thought it was a new wardrobe. The freezer took refuge beside the music player in the living room and became a pseudo super woofer speaker. The tabletop cooker and table joined the freezer in the living room and took up a picnic view looking out the expansive window. This state of affairs otherwise known as “organised chaos” continued for nearly three weeks, our time out the flat and our return when the university decorated the kitchen, which needed a good few days to dry out. It was a good job under those circumstances we had a tabletop cooker, our cooking camp already in place in the living room. When everything was returned to the kitchen and new flooring (sticky backed vinyl tiles) eventually put down the renovation job was complete.

My long held suspicion the floor wasn’t exactly level was confirmed whilst laying the floor tiles. This would prove problematic in the future. Our annual gas boiler check requires the removal of kitchen stuff and the reposition of the larder fridge, to ensure unrestricted easy access. Such projects and general foot traffic showed up the shortfalls of the vinyl tiling. At various points individual sections were replaced when damaged. But with the realisation a new washing machine would have to be bought, the floor issue and everything else regarding small home living would come home to roost.

I knew a lot of thought, planning, research, physical effort and upheaval would be required. Over a number of months I psyched myself up for the ordeal. The whole process has been an emotional battering ram, and as I awaited the delivery (2nd attempt) of the washing machine, I realised there was nothing left in me. Mentally I was worn out, physically shattered and emotionally drained.

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