2014-07 England 062‘It isn’t a shoe box, I assure you.’ James’s voice sounded less than convincing on the phone, ‘Have a look and see what you think. I’m not saying it’s the one, but I think you’ll like it.’

Minutes later I was standing outside the tall brick building, waving as the estate agent pulled up in a dusty station wagon. The front door of the building was grand: a brick stoop, wrought iron gates on either side. Curb appeal, I kept thinking as we entered the building. Potential, think of the potential.

At the top of a long flight of stairs, the agent unlocked a bright red door and we squeezed into the hallway. It was small, that was certain. He opened the first door, the second bedroom. An odd shape with a diagonal wall, it was a small second bedroom, if you could call it that. Perhaps more like a big cupboard.

‘You can get a single bed in there,’ Barrie the estate agent chirped up, ‘Just’. He stretched his arms out, as if to represent a small narrow bed.

‘What’s the view like?’ I walked over to the window and pressed my cheek against the cold glass, craning to see anything but the brick wall opposite. Not quite a room with a view. We backed out of the small space and I followed Barrie down the hall, up a small flight of stairs and into the living room. The space was filled with bright red furniture.

‘Interesting taste,’ I said and smiled. A large fish tank sat in the corner, sandwiched between two rather large plump lipstick-red sofas, taking up the majority of the floor space. Opposite, and blocking the hall was a giant entertainment centre, a red one – glossy finish. ‘It’s bigger than the photos made it out to be,’ I said, trying to give the flat a bit more credibility and feeling strangely enamored with the place. No view in this room either, but a stunning old brick wall opposite. I couldn’t think of a better brick wall for a window to face. In a way, it felt rather like a Manhattan apartment to me – small, cramped – but in one hell of a location.

The kitchen was non-descript, and the master bedroom (if one could call it a ‘master’) barely fit a double bed. Yet somehow, I knew it was the one.

Instantly, ok, maybe not instantly, but slowly and subtly and then all at once I fell in love with the quirky appeal of the rooms and little staircases, the layout that made the space feel like a row of train carriages, the small angelic sculpture on one wall, the disco ball above the bath tub.

‘This is it,’ I said to the agent, staring up at the glitter ball. I grinned, walking back through the flat. This is it. A few months later and the little home was ours.

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