|Things I covet: Jim Lawrence tassel|
If someone bought your house, how would you leave it? Would you leave it clean and tidy? Perhaps you would add a note about how to turn things on and off and good wishes? Maybe you might even leave a bottle of bubbly and some flowers. A little something to say you cared and hoping that the next owner of your house enjoys it as much as you did.
Maybe you’d do none of the above and just shut the door on a chapter in your life. Being an Army Brat I was brought up to leave my lodgings spick and span. I have an abiding memory (although it may be erroneous) of watching my mother on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor in last ditch attempt to leave our Army Quarter ( military term for house) in Germany, spotless. Finished she closed the door and hassled us into the car where we awaited the Housing Officer to pass the property clean enough so we could leave.
I kid you not these guys would come with clipboards and white gloves to check absolutely everything. They would don white gloves to make sure you had cleaned everything properly, the door lintels the light switches, behind the cooker, under the fridge everywhere. I don’t remember what the penalties were for failing but as a child of eight or nine I got the impression they were dire indeed.
As an itinerant Student my landlords loved me such was the ingrained need to leave each lodging spotless, in fact there were times I felt that the property was left by me far better than when I arrived. I know that when I sold my flat the lucky girl who had bought it was dumbstruck at how clean it was left, so much so that she rang to thank me. So you may forgive me a little when I get righteously indignant when I hear of people leaving their homes in rather a poor state.
Friends of mine bought a beautiful house and moved in a few weeks ago. The couple who left, she an interior designer, were great. They took everything, virtually everything even though they were going into rented accommodation in the same village. They removed every light fitting, every fixed mirror, every flower pot (after dumping the surplus soil on the ground where the pots had previously stood); they even took the gas canisters that ran the hob breaking the connections so badly that new ones cannot be fixed. They took all the chopped wood. If they could I am sure they would have drained the oil – there again I am not sure that they did not.
However, they did leave behind filth, everywhere. Evidence of the great anger they obviously felt about leaving their home. They also left behind two pairs of curtains and told my friends so very magnanimously. I was immediately suspicious. If they had taken absolutely everything else that was not physically cemented to the floors of the house, why would thy leave the curtains behind? In fact when the negotiations were going on for the house my friends were offered all the curtains at a price way too steep for my friends to feel comfortable with, despite being told rather forcefully that the curtains were designer and that my friends should be so lucky to be offered said curtains.
We were shown proudly round the new home and I tried to avert my eyes from the dark patches in the carpet and the badly scraped walls, the piles of dust and ingrained dirt on the bannisters. We were shown the curtains.
“They aren’t our state but they aren’t so bad," said my friend, “just a little stained on the bottom.”
I pricked up my ears, stained? I said: "Let’s have a butchers..."
I approached the curtains already knowing what I would find. I gingerly picked one up
They were stained alright and also felt a bit damp too. I sniffed and staggered back a few paces. The bottom of the curtains were drenched in cat pee.
Now if the previous owners had just left the curtains and said nothing at all about them I would have just considered them filthy people with no sense of pride, but because they actually said they had left the curtains for my friends and they said it so magnanimously I can only say one thing what complete and utter prats and what a nasty thing to do, downright deliberately nasty. And remember this is an interior designer we are talking about, one who still has a business to run.
I must admit I did add after sniffing the curtains that it was blooming lucky they hadn’t opted to buy the rest of them!