It's been a very long time since I added any of these letters from the UK onto this blog; the last one was back in 2013, and consisted of the letter written the previous day to this one, when I was troubled about having to find a new flat.
Yippee!!!!! What did I say just yesterday about fortunes changing within the space of a few hours? I was just thinking, too, yesterday night about the old Bible line: about not a sparrow falling without the good Lord knowing about it and lo and behold, he surely has got his eye on this sparrow!
Today’s happenings: I rang the flat service to tell them that I hadn’t liked the other place either, and Mr Atkins said he thought he had another place at New Cross ˗ it was a £5er a week, though, but sounds quite good. New Cross is fairly well served by the tube to the Opera C, and so I said well, could he make an appointment with the owner. He couldn’t get hold of the fellow till six-thirty tonight, so said for me to ring back. Now David Syrus overheard a conversation between John Gray, our receptionist at the Centre, and someone else, about how John had been let down at the last minute by a friend when they had arranged to share with another person a flat in Blackheath, which is also down South of the Thames, like New Cross. This flat was fully self-contained, with new furniture, and all conveniences. David apparently mentioned that I was looking for somewhere, and John got onto me, took me down with him in his car to the flat and my new address is 23A Montpelier Row, London SE 3. [Looking at this site on Google now, I don't recognise it at all!]
I think I’ll shift in this weekend. The Marshalls are quite easy, so here goes. There are so many advantages at this early that it all seems a bit much. The rent if £4-13-4 a week, which while it is more by a bit, quite a bit, than at present, it means that I have a whole flat and complete privacy within it. I can catch either a bus reasonably directly to the Centre or get a train, not tube, to Tower Bridge, and get a bus along Commercial Rd. In fact looking at the map it rather seems that trains go direct from Blackheath ˗ 20 yds down the road from the flat to Stepney East ˗ 20 yds from the Opera Centre! But I’m not sure about this. Anyway, John has a car, works at the same place as me...need I say more. That’s his idea, not mine! And we both go to the same sort of concerts quite often, too, soooo...! [Looking back, £4-13-4 seems the oddest amount to be paying for anything per week. Still it was a darn site cheaper than the £242 being asked for a similar location a couple of years ago.]
The flat is the basement of a huge house ˗ four storeys ˗ an old Georgian Mansion, in fact, looking out over Blackheath Common, which is also huge, and the village, which has an olde worlde charm that I wouldn’t have thought existed so close to the rest of the Thames area, which is scungy. The place above us has been turned into bedsits, though it was formerly a YWCA, but ours is an ex-storeroom area, and covers most of the area in the basement. We have our own patio at the back, and there is an immense garden. [Which I don’t remember ever using. Nor did the other two.] The furniture is all new, and the place is newly decorated ˗ in white throughout! ˗ but with carpets in the main rooms, an enormous kitchen, dining room, a great lounge, two bedrooms (have I already said all this?).
One thing which I feel perhaps you may not feel too happy about is the fact that the third person is a girl. (Cries of horror from 12,000 miles). The point is that she is an old friend of John’s, and since he is doing this with his mother’s eagle-eye on him, and I think the girl has been living in the house with his family, anyway, I think it should be all right. As it is I doubt that we’ll see each other very much anyway, and since the place is so big I can’t see us getting in each other’s hair. And John assures me that she isn’t the sort of person around whom untoward things occur, so if you do object, do so now, or forever hold your peace as they say! I think you can trust me, don’t you? [Good grief: even for 1969 this all seems a bit olde worlde; perhaps Blackheath Village had some effect on my brain at the time of writing. As it was I barely ever saw this girl; if she wasn’t staying in her room, she was out, and then eventually she just up and left.]
I feel terribly excited about it all, as though I was going to my first real home, here. One where you’re not constantly running into your landlord ˗ not that they’ve been any trouble ˗ and they have been wonderful to me really. I must get them a small something before I go.
My second bit of news is that the four storey place KateTither and her friend lived in was burnt out the other night ˗ not completely but enough to be a nuisance, and so at present they’re in a bed-sit with another friend. I rather hoped that the Marshalls might feel like doing a room swap and taking them on, but they don’t seem too keen, really, because Kate’s friend has a boy of four, and partly because they don’t think the girls would be too happy about trailing outside to the toilet. (We have two! in the new place!) However things may still work out for them.
I now have to contact Kingsley who has left me no address ˗ only a phone number ˗ and also that great thundering trunk and his heater. What a complicated life it is but it isn’t getting me down. And I’ve got back some of my nerve as regards playing goes. That rep who came to us and said something about it, put me on the right track, even if he hadn’t intended to, and I just refuse to be upset about the reps’ classes anymore. And have started to enjoy them more than I have for some time. In fact I’m beginning to feel the way I did when I first arrived, which was rather more confident than I have been for some months.
Re the flat again ˗ the new one ˗ it seems somehow more permanent than this place has been. I think I’ve always known I’d have to leave here sometime, but this new one seems like going home again. Wonder why? Must go ˗ I still have to ring his lordship, and do German homework, and I haven’t really had any tea yet. What a life!
Tons of love, Mike (you’ve been praying, haven’t you?) Love.