Wednesday 13 November 2002

Carry On Linhope

Linhope Street is part of a quiet residential neighbourhood. Sumptuously decorated three-storey Georgian terraced houses abut discreetly converted offices. Although our house is identical from the outside save for the prominent Sky dish and cable, inside there are substantial differences from the plush retirement home decor our neighbours prefer.

Apparently the landlord offered to decorate before my flatmates moved in (I joined later), but the projected increase in rent turned the saggy sofa-bed, tired walls and Bakelite fuse box from annoyances to charming features. Fortunately the slovenly surroundings are more than compensated for by being a mere 20 minutes walk away from the West End and by the Carry On scripts that my flatmates (Baz and Davis) and I are frequently called upon to play out.

I'd returned from Ipswich to spend a school night at London's finest club bedrock, my danced-out legs eventually propelling me from Heaven's doors in the early hours to return to Linhope and the comforting if lumpy arms of my bed.

All seemed normal as I entered the front door, Davis had left the lights and sound system on and Baz had clearly been raiding the whisky stash, but that's par for the course. All seemed normal as I stepped over the darkened bikes in the front hall - there is no light fitting, merely a spaghetti mess of wires hanging from the ceiling. All seemed normal as I pushed open the door to my bedroom and switched the light on.

What was not normal was the lump under my duvet cover. I pulled back the duvet to reveal a sleepy, drunken, baffled Barry wearing only his pants. Small talk was not on my agenda,

"Barry, what the bloody hell are you doing in my bed?"

"Go and have a look at my bedroom."

I descended the stairs again and opened Barry's bedroom door to reveal water and plasterboard dribbling gently from a largish hole in the ceiling. To further enhance the bombsite vibe, Barry had tossed the mattress carelessly away from the bed base to lie across his bookcases after it had borne the bulk of the initial impact. Looking up I could see the curving underside of the bath, the plumber's attempt to repair the bath tap that had come off in my hand a couple of months before clearly could not be deemed an unqualified success.

Of course, the situation was easily rectified - I threw Barry out of my bed and let him sleep on his damp mattress.

Some days later it's still possible to see the head of Barry's bed through the hole in the bathroom floor and we do not hold out great hopes of a fix in the immediate future. All that remains to complete the whole episode is for the bath to plunge through the hole and deposit a shocked, showering Davis in Barry's room, preferably while Barry is laughing like a drain at a scantily clad young woman.

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