Living in The Shining

I knew this flat was old, but my GOD, it’s old. And not old in the adorably Victorian/Greek Revival/converted old-timey jail cells-type of way. This is the type of old that was once revived as a cool, hip throwback, but then fell by the wayside once the words “hip” and “throwback” became about as cool to say as “I’m with Nick Clegg”. 

Based on my late-teen bingeing of That 70s Show, I recognized the decor and kitchen/bathroom fittings as being on the more unfashionably-designed spectrum of that era. The kitchen cabinets were boring and many, and boasted the most appealing shade of cack. The fridge, once white, seemed to have had said cack shade seep into it at one point, and like the bitter, lonely faces of regret I see when I pass my fellow tenants in the building, it has given up in a pit of despair and will probably never change back to the glorious brilliance it once was.

The windows have a bit of a schoolhouse charm, although more Lowood than Eton. I enjoy being able to look out onto most of downtown Salem from my window, and watch the sunrise. It’s especially easy because there are no blinds or window screens, and almost certainly no curtains (net or otherwise).

There are about 10 plug outlets in the living room, so that you can plug in lamps for light instead of using that newfangled ceiling light malarkey. Almost certainly built before the novelty of track lighting or ceilings, this is ideal when I want to exercise my eyelids by squinting in the dark when I’m typing on a glaring computer screen. Which is all the time.

Carpet exists throughout, except the bathroom, which has the commode about two inches from the edge of the bathtub. Water comes out of the shower in four pounding jet streams, and takes the length of your time in there to reach an equitable temperature. It doesn’t matter how long of a shower you take, it will always take that long to get warm, just because it can.

The thermostat looks like the sort of decommissioned 1970s porn robot that you’d find in dated office buildings (i.e. everywhere in the civil service) and you can never tell when the hell it’s working (i.e. every single person working in the civil service). The fuse box is a series of steampunk-style mini levers in a combination safe-type interface that make me feel like I’m playing Lego Bank Teller. In the ’70s.

The hallway from the kitchen/living room combo to the bathroom is lined with a series of closets with doors so dated even my mum wants to take a sledgehammer to hers.

I’ve actually had to go and plug in the fridge today, after realising that the Italian-style meat substitute I’d kept in the fridge for the past few days was warm and squidgy.

Fearing that my cheese, dairy smoothies, chocolate pudding and yoghurt would go the same way as the warm and squidgy meat (shut up), I actually called the emergency line where a bitchy cow told me, as if I were to expect this somehow, that the fridge had to actually be plugged into an electrical socket. I really can’t remember having to do this with any of the places I’ve stayed in out here, and I don’t know anyone else who’d had to either. Unless you bought a brand new fucking fridge!

The property manager said outright that I could do whatever I wanted with the place – repaint, put up wallpaper, buy a new fridge, tear up the carpets – whatever I wanted. I have a year lease, so I’m pretty much stuck in this Life on Mars cafeteria flat, and any improvements I make will probably bump up the rent income for this guy.

I bought a stainless steel microwave online today. I’m praying that, despite its modernity, it won’t be rejected by the putrefying retrograde that is everything in sight.


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