Yesterday, fed up of the weather, of having very little money to spend on anything other than bills, and having so much time on my hands, I looked on Gumtree for part time jobs. Before you start to wonder why I don’t spend all my time writing, I should explain I’m a closet writer, and I only let my imagination loose when the house is empty or everyone is in bed. If I’m not writing or working I’m usually out with my horses, reading or listening to audiobooks (most often doing more than one of these things at the same time).

Some people think you have to have money if you have horses. Not true. In my case because I have horses I’ve never got any money. And I’m not a jobless Jeremy Kyle fan either, but I do work from home, part time, purely because I enjoy what I do, and don’t have enough work coming in to make it a full time thing (yet). And while I might have hopeless dreams of making millions off my novels, the truth is that writing is rarely a secure, let alone reliable source of income. However, I still have a lot of free time, and holes in my pockets with the weather preventing me from attending the horse shows with my trade stand… so… I am not a pauper, nor am I quite comfortable so I went looking for a job on Gumtree.

One such job (for home help) was advertised by “Wally”, with his mobile number. He said he had a house on Teddington Rd in Stratford, and could I go over the same day. I got in the car and went over, pulled onto the drive and was faced with three doors. All had letterboxes, but only one had a doorbell so I rang it (I trust you see why I feel the need to blog about this encounter?).  A minute later a man with an accent that I presumed to be french answered, said he could chat on the doorstep all day, cracked a joke about “What sort of a name is Wally, anyway?” and then apologetically told me I had the wrong house. Oh. Crap.

My phone battery had died en route and the charger was in my dad’s car but I had Wally’s number in my diary so I drove up the road to the golf club and called him from a public phone. He said I was at the right house, but the wrong door (it’s a big house!). So I drove back, and discovered that Wally is actually the username of the guy who placed the ad, and his name is in fact, Paul. He let me call him “Wally” for probably fifteen minutes before he explained, so I guess he has a sense of humour, and actually, seemed a really nice chap. He explained that he uses the middle section of the house, Rachel uses the apartment on one end, and Garrit, who turned out to be Dutch, lives in the other end. Because it was originally one giant house, the units are all connected via doors and the balconies.

These people all live in close proximity, they all describe one another as awesome (a word that sounds really cool in a dutch accent), and they’re all hard workers who need a housekeeper.  I am no housekeeper, but I can clean like a woman posessed, so, I agreed to do it. On touring the house I realised that it was way bigger than I initially thought. It has three floors rather than just the two you can see from the road, spiral staircases, countless bathrooms and each unit is decorated with the personalities of the three very different tenants.

The back of the house is a little like a beach condo and all the walls are in fact floor to ceiling windows. Paul is a clock maker and has an empty grandfather clock case inside the front door, cream carpets and tile floors on the lowest level. He has glas sfurniture everywhere and a workshop off the bottom deck. Garrit likes books, photography and has a million pictures of his travels and his kids. He’s been everywhere from Holland to the Himalayas and back again, in both directions.

But what struck me the most was the curious things you can find behind the closed doors of a massive, dark grey house on a busy road in a little town and I was so pleased I got to be there because they seem like such great people and there’s so much more to that place than meets the eye. They are all so incredibly different, from each other and from me. I’ve never met a clockmaker before. I’ve never had a dutchman crack jokes about buggery (it was a mispronunciation). He’s an interesting chap, and very funny.

The house backs onto the river avon right in the middle of stratford, literally and it’s so quaint, I had to pinch myself and say “This is what foreign people think England looks like!” It’s very storybook, even for an English girl. So maybe I’ll find some inspiration from my stories whilst cleaning windows on a wednesday afternoon. Maybe about the river, the clocks, the workshop, the vaulted ceilings, the spiral staircases, the photographs, the doors, “Wally” or his pet spaniel… who knows! There are words to be found everywhere, especially in a home as diverse as this one.

It seems I may have been wrong when I said I can’t make use of my imagination when people are home.

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