Friday, 3 July 2009

Meet The Neighbours

There was a heavily soiled three-piece suite that dominated the majority of the living room.

One of those over-the-top leather numbers that you would periodically find loose change, ciggies and dirty tea-towels wedged in-between it's numerous cushions.

If you were lucky and persistent enough, you would have dug up £5 in the Queen's currency from the back of that gold-mine.

A large rectangular grubby rug, that had probably been magnificently pure polar-bear white at some recent time in the past, was unevenly placed at the centre of the room. It sat flush in front of the TV stand, which had a dust-encrusted Playstation 2, a cheap digital Free-view box and random porno DVD's messily shoved underneath it.

My abiding memory of Dean's flat was of Sky Sports News on a endless loop at deafness-volume, failed betting slips and week-old tabloid newspapers scattered across the ash-covered floor.

Oh yeah, and don't forget the ashtray on the chipped and scarred pine table, piled high with a month's worth of dog-ends and crumpled up, singed rolling papers.

Someone had once cherished, polished and looked after that thing.

Dean just saw it as a receptacle for his shite.

Yet despite the general untidiness, dubious furnishings and cheap decor, I - and every other guy who lived in the cubes at that time - was envious of Dean's flat.

"How long you lived here then, Deano?" I asked as I stepped inside there for the first time, 8 cans of cold Miller beer (hastily procured) from the local off-license in limp, ready-to-split carrier bags in my hands.

"Abbaar...a year, I reckon, lad. Moved in wid me bird ........Kelsie..." he replied lounging on his armchair, his attention fixated on the transfer reports that flashed up on the TV screen.

I noticed, (being cursed with my annoyingly perceptive human-nature skills), that he shifted about in his armchair uncomfortably and his voice modulation shifted to a low register.

That meant to me that he had suffered an nasty break-up with this girl.

Best not to press, I thought.

"Right...still...Helluva nice pad you got here, Dean. Well pretty views of the city and that..." I said somewhat lamely. I dropped the bags of booze noisily to the floor, wincing as I realised that they would probably explode from the force of their descent.

We sat there for what felt like around five minutes, when Dean suddenly hit me with:

"So you likin' it here, lad?"

I had to think about it...HARD.

Did I like it there?

...I guess i did. No conflicts with housemates, no mess from other people to clear up in the kitchen or bathroom, no arguments over the TV.....

"Yeah....It's...okay, man. No problems, Deano..."

Another few seconds of quiet contemplation, and then:

"Ahhhh....Shit. Shuuurup lad, Match of the Day is on in five minutes... We gotta throw them cans in the freezer, lad.."

"Yeah, sound Dean.."

He raced to his kitchen, grabbing my carrier bags, a low crashing noise emanating from within as he sprinted in there.

"Fuckin' ell...arrr...yer messin' lad..."

I realised he must have knocked his bin-liner over, lazily placed by the kitchen door. It was in all likelihood crammed with stale food, empty cans and old newspapers. I could hear him struggling to pull it all together, throwing everything into the bag frantically, as the opening tune to Match of the Day kicked in.

It was as close enough to a religion to him, I remember thinking, as he shot back into the living room with two cans of booze, throwing me one which I caught shakily.

Dean sat down, shook his head and focused squarely on the devil's goggle-box, as Gary Linekar gave his customary smarmy intro to the day's results......