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Is OK

  Thu 31st October 2013

A unfamiliar mobile number; the man on the other end has a barely comprehensible Eastern European accent. He wants to see the room "now."

Twenty minutes later there are two tall, quite handsome men at my door. They introduced themselves and we shook hands. "So who wants the room?" I ask. "Both of us." "Oh I see, come in."

One of them has a Christian name common in Romania, so I venture that they're from that country. "No, Moldova." I ask them if they are from Chișinău. Surprised, one of them says "You were in Moldova?" "No, I just know the capital of Moldova," I say. "Yes, we are from Chișinău." They are joiners, working on one of the endless building projects for which Lancaster University seems to have bottomless pockets whilst being unable to fund either of my old Departments--Music (abolished) and Philosophy (merged)--neither of which can match the contribution to culture and learning of Marketing and Accounting.

"Yes, so, here's the living room," I say. "Is this the room?" they ask. "No, no, it's up here." I walk up to the first floor assuming they'd follow but they stay standing at the foot of the stairs. "You can come up," I say.

I have warned her that someone will be coming round. Her room is boiling hot. They say "is OK." They don't even want to see the bathroom, which is a relief, as the lack of a proper shower doesn't sell the place.

Downstairs, we discuss terms. They're outgoing and chatty and straightforward and my gut instinct is that it'll work and that they'll get on with Ned and Tess.

They break off to talk privately amongst themselves. I was hoping I might understand some of it, given Romanian's closeness to Latin, but apart from some numbers and the word for "deposit" which is almost identical to the English one, it's lost on me. He gives me twenty pounds to take the advert down and not show anyone else round. I ask them if they've anywhere to stay until Saturday, when the room becomes free. At a pinch, they could have slept in the living room. But it's OK, they're in the Travelodge. I go to write him a receipt but he waves it away and shakes my hand instead.

I am exhilerated with relief and ring Trina to tell her all about it. Trina and I have made up, but more on that later.

10 comments

Another exciting flat mate. I can’t wait to see which neurosis they display once they get settled in. Also can’t wait to see what you mean by “made up.”

Thu 31st October 2013 @ 11:46
Comment from: looby [Visitor]

Yes, everythig goes ok for a day or two and then you discover a pecularity of irritation that you’ve never seen before. Hey ho, they’d have to be quite bad to be more uncomfortable around than our taciturn current housemate.

Thu 31st October 2013 @ 17:16
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

I knew you’d make up. This is soo much better than TV soaps u:-) Furtheron aka the phantom spammer!

Fri 1st November 2013 @ 13:44
Comment from: GB [Visitor]

I agree with furtheron, this is infinitely better than a TV soap, and well written to boot. I’m impressed with your flexibility too, I know needs must and all, but I would hate to share a house with almost strangers.

(For one, I guess there’s no walking about in your smalls.)

Fri 1st November 2013 @ 16:44
Comment from: Chef [Visitor]

Joiners from Chișinău eh?

I remember the last time I did business with a couple of foreign gents with “barely comprehensible Eastern European accents.” Chechnya, the land of the sharpened axe, illegal guns and the willingness to separate a man and his life as if it was worthless. Which of course it is in Chechnya. I still have a faded scar that runs from my hairline to just below my right ear.

Chișinău, Chechnya, they sound so alike when spoken quickly. If you hurry, you might just be able to get Ms Phooey back. For the price of a mere shower curtain you can all sleep safely again in your beds.

Sat 2nd November 2013 @ 12:41
Comment from: [Member]

F: Hello Graham, hope those pills are working and that Mrs F is suitably tired out now. And yes, I’ll let you know about the reconciliation shortly.

GB: Thanks–and no, I’m not in a position to choose who I live with. But I’ve had great good luck with Ned and Tess and am just hoping the Moldovans work out too.

Chef: Actually they were a lot easier to understand face to face. And although I could only stay for twenty minutes or so last night, as I had to fetch my girls from the bus shelter, they paid the rent in those nice red notes. The counterfeiting equipment they’ve developed in southeastern Europe has really improved in the last few years.

Sat 2nd November 2013 @ 16:37
Comment from: [Member]

oh, i’m enjoying watching “who’s the next lodger?” on looby-vision! very entertaining! also enjoying the sub-plot, where chef plants seeds of fear and uncertainty!

looby: new lodger is a sheep farmer from essex!

chef: a bit of history, fella! did you know that the first men to acquire sexually transmitted diseases were sheep farmers? i hear there are some new strains that can be transmitted through sneezes…

looby: new lodger is a dancing midget from the ukraine!

chef: is her name ulrike, by any chance? i think i once hired her for a job in kiev. very efficient. flexibility and short stature make it easy for them to hide in closets for the effective ‘knife to the groin in your sleep’ maneuver…

looby: new lodger is a middle-aged housewife from the midwestern united states!

chef: ah, lord. the scariest sort - did you know they have been trained to rip out testicles through the nostrils?

Sat 2nd November 2013 @ 20:59
Comment from: [Member]

This could run and run…

Mon 4th November 2013 @ 13:15
Comment from: smallbeds [Visitor]

Oh, that’s all great news all round. And the fire and fairy lights on your next blogpost is making me wish it were Christmas already.

I’ve a colleague from Chișinău. Lovely chap, mumbles into his beard a bit, when he has a beard. It’s always sounded to me like a language of darkly-swallowed vowels, which might be the Slavic/Russian influence on it: I bet that’s why you can’t hear the echoes of Latin coming through, because certainly modern Italian is all in the lovely, bright syllables.

Mon 4th November 2013 @ 14:37
Comment from: [Member]

Yes, it’s far more Slavic/Russian sounding than Latin. When you read it it looks like it might produce a mellifluous spoken language, but that’s not how it sounds, not with these two Moldovans anyway.

They told me they speak a mixture of Romanian and Russian, and can understand both.

Thu 7th November 2013 @ 11:44


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