8 years. It’s a significant percentage of anyone’s life. And it’s a very long time to spend living in the same rented apartment.
It seems like only yesterday that I moved into an apartment in Christchurch, Dublin. I had been living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment nearby for two and a half years, but the time had come to move on. The move to Christchurch turned out to be a great one.
A month after I moved in, the lease-holder of the apartment bought a place and moved out. I was delighted—he had very little to say for himself and was one of those rare people I knew I would never get on with. That left me and Ed, a Dubliner who had been living there for a few years, on the look-out for a new tenant for the large double room. A Roscommon man, a fellow Ronan, eventually moved in, and it wasn’t long before we began partying it up at Christchurch.
Ed moved to Boston to get married around May 2003, and all manner of people moved in, and moved on again, over the years—Leanne, Ian, Mark, Denise, Deborah, Kara, Julianne, Anke and Karen. Nicole and Danusia also lived there on and off at various stages. And Mark held the distinctive record of actually living in the apartment twice (following a year in between stays working in London). Ronan stayed at Christchurch for 5 1/2 years before eventually moving on, only to be replaced by Andrzej who stayed for over two years.
Dublin (and indeed Ireland) has, in some ways, gone from hero to zero in the past two years. And this has certainly been reflected in the rental market. Finding long-term tenants has become very difficult (the last four tenants were all visiting Dublin for just a just a matter of months) and so I recently decided to move out of the apartment along with my other housemates Andrzej (moving back to Poland) and Karen (going travelling).
I am currently in the process of purchasing an apartment and am hoping to move into it soon.
I left Christchurch with some happy memories and funny stories from my time there. And I’ll sign off today with just one recent story that remains fresh in my memory …
………………… Memories from Christchurch View …………………
It was April 2009. An Irish guy had arranged to view the spare room after Deborah had moved out. The rental market, however, had changed dramatically in the preceding few months. Where once 50 people might reply to a room advert on Daft.ie, now this number was closer to four or five. So I was delighted that John Joe (not his real name) was Irish—not because I’m anti-foreigners (far from it) but because I presumed he would be around for the long haul.
Anyway, John Joe shows up. And he’s fat—morbidly obese in fact. I’d say he’s about 25 stones (or 350 pounds). That’s fine; no big deal but I do start thinking that I might have to hide my Weetabix from this guy if he moves in. But I have no intention of moving him in. Why?
Well for a start, John Joe has brought his sister with him. She’s a rough diamond—looks like she could cut a man’s balls off just by looking at him. At first I think she’s John Joe’s mother—she’s got to be in her mid-sixties, but I suspect a diet of cigarettes and alcohol may have played their part in the ageing process. But John Joe is no spring chicken either. I reckon he’s nigh on 40. In truth, he seems a nice enough guy. He’s quiet, but then again he’s not getting much of a chance to put his views across since his sister is doing all the talking.
Maybe I’m assuming too much at this stage but I get the feeling that John Joe has lived in the nearby family home (or with his sister) for most of his life. And now the sister is forcing him out into the big bad world to fend for himself. Shame she didn’t do it sooner. John Joe moving out at 40 and viewing apartments with his dangerous looking sister doesn’t help ingratiate him as a prospective housemate with me.
Anyway, after showing John Joe and his sister around the living room, kitchen and bathroom, and making the same lame joke I always do about our two fridges (“One for food and one for beer” Boom Boom!), I invite them to follow me up the spiral staircase to view the bedroom.
I steal a quick glance at John Joe’s massive frame and think: “There’s no way this guy is getting up these stairs.”
So the sister bounds up the stairs along with myself, and we enter the room. It soon becomes apparent, as I envisaged, that John Joe is having difficulties.
I keep the sister talking, or she keeps me talking—I’m not quite sure which. She is very interested in the room and apartment (Who’s moving in here? Her or John Joe? I’m beginning to wonder!).
“I can pay ya a deposit right here today,” she says, and I’m almost too scared to tell her that other people will be viewing the room and I would move a monkey in before living with her over-pampered, can’t even get up the stairs brother.
John Joe eventually makes it into the room after about a minute or so. He’s sweating profusely and I’m wondering what the legal implications might be if he drops dead in the apartment.
The sister at last asks him his opinion on the room, barely waits for his response and then tells me that, “We’re very interested in taking the room.”
Off she goes down the stairs, and John Joe follows. I’m hoping that gravity might help him with his return journey, but things don’t turn out that way. As John Joe rounds the first bend, he becomes stuck in the stairway. He looks to be well and truly wedged. I don’t know where to look (I’m standing upstairs just beside the top of the staircase) so I try to encourage him and make him feel better by telling him that it took me three or four months to get the hang of walking up and down the staircase.
After a good two or three minutes, John Joe manages to free himself and somehow gets to the bottom of the staircase without bringing it crashing to the floor.
The sister takes one look at her visibly tired and mentally traumatised brother, and she shouts up the stairs at me.
“It’s no good. He’s too big. He’ll never get up and down them stairs.”
And with that, she opens the door and drags her embarrassed brother out with her.
Did you like this story? Maybe you’ll enjoy Lord of the Rams, featuring anecdotes and misadventures from my student apartment in Waterford in the late nineties. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).