Today was the final inspection of Nana’s flat by the “village” management. A representative met me at the flat with a clipboard and a checklist and I stood to one side while he went over Nana’s place – gutted, mind you, what with no carpet or curtains and telephone wires exposed about the place – with a fine tooth comb.
“There’s a lot of nails on the wall,” he said, pointing to the offending nails with the end of his pen.
I glanced around and shrugged.
“I think old people like to hang lots of things on the wall,” I said. “They’re all like that, aren’t they?”
Silence. No doubt there’s a regulation number of nails allowed and this will be an opportunity to charge us something extra for an excess of hooks. Speaking of which, I checked the PO Box a few hours later, and, lo and behold, there was a bill from these people for “General Services” for the next quarter, totalling nearly one thousand dollars. General Services? The place is gutted. And even when Nana was still living there the “services” remained a complete mystery. What services? There’s a stunning lack of services of even the most rudimentary variety. It’s mystifying. But it’s contractual.
He didn’t even bother opening a single cupboard, blithely saying, “Oh, they’ll probably refit this whole place before the next person moves in.” Right. I’m so glad it’s all spotlessly clean then. Thanks for that. And I’m especially glad because it means they won’t even be trying to lure someone else into this criminal scheme in time to reduce the SIX MONTHS’ contractual obligation to keep paying the bloody General Services fee. Why would they when they’ve got someone who agreed to pay for half a year more than the term of their tenancy?! Here’s how they put it in the instructions for vacating:
Recurrent charges for General Services will continue to be calculated on a daily basis and be payable and owing to [the housing association] by the Resident, until the earlier of the following dates:
i. the unit is occupied by another resident, or
ii. six months from the date that the Resident ceased to occupy the Unit (*as per clause 10.13 of your Deed).
There are lots of references to clauses in these instructions. There’s clause 19.1, and 12.3, and 9.4, and even clause 11.1 if you’re still looking for a little more variety…
I’ve got a clause of my own that I’d really like to give them, but it’s unprintable.
Anyway, it’s over. I shouldn’t have to go back there ever again. I don’t think that’s quite sunk in yet, but I do feel a lot lighter. And the absolute best, best, best thing is that I rang Nana after leaving her place for the last time, and she was as happy as a clam.
“How are you?” I asked.
“I’m very well, actually,” she said. “I’m here, and I’m happy.”
I very nearly burst into tears of nothing more than profound relief.
“Oh, Nana, I am so, so glad to hear you say that. What’s news?”
“Oh, there’s a good one here,” she said.
“A good one what? Is this the man you were telling me about?”
“The week before last,” I said. “The good looking one.”
“Oh, probably,” she said. “I suppose that was him.”
“What’s his name?”
Pause. Just a long second, and then, “Mark.”
“Well, that’ll keep you on your toes,” I said. “Keeps life interesting, doesn’t it?”
Nana laughed and laughed. Like she knew something I didn’t know and wasn’t telling me for quids. A very gay laugh, actually.
“It’s just lovely to have someone attentive around,” I continued.
“That’s it exactly,” she said firmly.
“And a bit of flattery never goes astray,” I said.
“Yes, flattery. It’s nice to be flattered every now and again.”
“It is,” she said. “Although there are some real ding-dongs here.”
“Yes, ding-dongs. That’s just the first word that came to mind.”
“Get ten people in a room, Nana, and there’s bound to be at least one ding-dong.”
“Or nine,” she said, quick as a flash.
“That would be rather unfortunate,” I said, and we both laughed. “But Mark doesn’t sound like he’s a ding-dong.”
“Well, I’m not putting my claws into him or anything.”
“Oh no,” I said. “Of course not. You’re not desperate.”
“No,” she said. “No, I am not.”
“But it makes things more fun,” I suggested.
“Yes,” she said brightly, “it certainly does.”
Anyway, we chatted for a few minutes more and then rang off, and as I madly texted Kate and Llew with the good news, I did have a bit of a tear, but only the very best kind.