Well, I've seen it. I've even been inside it.
Yes, I have made my inaugural visit to my new house. Aside from its wonderful location (quiet cul-de-sac by the river, overlooking the allotments and watercress beds, in line with the setting sun, etc.), I have to say that I was slightly less than impressed.
The house itself is structurally good, but the state inside when I made my inspection was appalling. Suspicious marks on the wall, cracked and flaked paint all over the place, no carpets anywhere and a very large and VERY dodgy stain on the bedroom floor - it looks (and, to be honest, smells) like someone has continuously p*ssed on the floor over a number of years. My partner and I were not happy, and neither was the lady from the Housing Association. She was a fairly grim woman who made it clear from the start that her organisation would not provide assistance with cleaning and re-decorating and answered all my partner's pertinent questions with curt indifference. My presence helped to thaw her, however, and she ultimately confessed to my partner that she was deeply ashamed to be showing the house to us in its present state. She was going around with a digital camera, snapping away at the worst bits (which was pretty much the whole house).
The whole affair was rather depressing for my partner, but a quick Jasper-hug did the business, and we tried to look on the bright side.
The bright side is, in fact, directly through the French windows. The sun shines into the little living room all afternoon. Most acceptable for a light-responsive fellow like myself. My partner invited me to select what I felt would be my future favoured spot and see how I liked lying down in the warmth in my new parlour. I did not care to take up this offer because there was at least an inch of black dust on the floor. As I looked with disdain at the filth, the lady from the agency said "Doesn't the doggie want to sit on the floor?" "No, the doggie doesn't." I muttered, under my breath, "And neither would you, petal, if you had to clean yourself with your tongue." My partner smiled apologetically and we made a hasty retreat from this veritable chamber of horrors.
But, through a strange quirk of fate, the state of the place has actually worked out in our favour. Because of rent, Council Tax, and the myriad other payments that house-holding entails, my partner could not afford to sign the lease immediately (and not until after she had drastically reduced her monthly IVA repayments. Don't ask - trust me, you don't want to know). The Housing Association weren't having any of this. They categorically stated that either my partner signed straight away or she lost the property. A few days later, a very pleasant and rather humble lady from the H.A. 'phoned my partner and apologised for the state of the property. She said that the signing date would have to be delayed because they were getting people in to "deep clean" the house and COMPLETELY redecorate the whole house before my partner and I move in. Oh yes. My strategically-placed spies (of which I have many) inform me that decorators have been going in and our of the house all week, cleaning and painting. They have been accompanied by builders who have been installing all-new kitchen units. Oh YES.
My partner and I can scarcely believe our luck. My partner's mother has offered to lend us the money for carpets and curtains and that takes care of the internal décor. But this is not all our good fortune. Oh no.
Some American friends, Guy, Dee and Jennifer, are returning to the USA in a few weeks' time and they have offered my partner and I ALL of their stuff. Yes, ALL. For FREE. Washing machine, TV, microwave, vacuum cleaner, big double bed (hehehe), crockery, coffee-maker, kettle, toaster, etc. Basically all the things we need for our new abode, but which my partner could not afford due to her straitened circumstances. And they don't want payment for any of it. In fact, they are actually grateful to us for taking the goods. My partner travelled to Birmingham today, to meet with our generous benefactors and view the items. I was pleased with her report - all nearly-new, beautiful items. How will we ever be able to thank these friends enough? They have enabled us to live. And this is in ADDITION to items set aside for my partner by her parents and monetary donations from a generous granny and great-aunts.
Without wishing to scupper our present situation, my partner and I are both truly encouraged. Let us briefly re-cap:
My partner's long-held wish was for a little house, as opposed to a flat, in the town where she has passed all her adult life: We have a beautiful little house in our own town. End of terrace, in a quiet road, with the little river running right past our perfect little bit of garden.
The inside of the house was in a state that would have disgusted a pubic louse: The house is being professionally deep-cleaned and re-decorated throughout, with brand new kitchen units at no cost or hassle to us.
My partner could not afford to immediately take on the lease: The signing of the papers has been delayed to 9 February, and may be delayed again if the decorators have not completed their tasks.
My partner could not afford any household items whatsoever: Our wonderful American friends have offered us more items that we actually have room for, at no cost, and are thrilled that we can take them.
My partner's parents say that this shows that God is answering all their prayers and providing for their daughter and her Jasper. Well, it certainly seems that way; though we keep our minds about such matters wide open. But God, or whomever, definitely does seem to be smiling on us at last. Now, we have no fear about the forthcoming major change in our lives. We have only excited anticipation.
Perhaps 2009 IS going to be our year, after all...