My flatmate Attila has gone, leaving the garret in immaculate condition.
Hungarian spirits, chocolates and a greeting card are on the table. I feel very moved by Attila’s efforts.
In this flat I have truly had the best and worst of flatmates. When he was evicted my first flatmate - the one before Attila - completely trashed the pad. There was broken glass, rubbish, flour and other trash everywhere.
By stark contrast, Attila has been left it perfectly clean; probably cleaner than it has ever been.
I shall certainly miss Attila Szalo. A nicer guy and finer flatmate one could not hope for: reasonable, tolerant, decent, good-natured and kindly, in every respect.
Attila also had a fantastic - and surprisingly English - sense of humour. We used to laugh like idiots at our respective misadventures and misfortunes.
I guess that to some degree we were united by a desire to leave Leamington Spa – a drear Midlands town so utterly alien and unfriendly to both of us. Such a poor joke!
Coincidentally it is two years today that I moved into this flat.
Tonight I have been to the Reckless Moment comedy club, a quiet night with some good new talent (I suspect that were Warwick University drama students).
Friendly faces. Yet I wonder how I shall survive the next three-and-a-half weeks here.
Attila Szalo has returned to Hungary and then plans to travel the world for bit.
There was no doubt his major motivation was to leave Leamington Spa.
If his break in England had come in London, I would wager he would still be in the UK.
You can’t blame him, though. I am sure that if were not English, I would have quit the country after living in Leamington for a year.
Once you have seens girls punching it out on the street on a Sunday night, or a 10-person brawl outside the cheap pub at 7pm on a Tuesday night, it is not hard to find the grass greener elsewhere.
I reckon that, not including tonight, I have another 15 nights left in this one-horse, cowboy town.
Suddenly the flat seems huge. Again it looks different. It seemed to change totally after James left. Now it looks and feels different again now Attila has departed.
It changes its complexion with the cast, taking on the personality of its denizens.
I got here tonight, after driving at highish speed up the usual motorways, remarkably, in rush-hour traffic, sometimes fighting to keep the Astra Martin on the road, and found that, despite all our efforts, the James Blunts at British Telecom had cut off the Internet connection.
Has there ever been a more incompetent company? In the post was a letter from BT thanking us for our continued custom!
In a sense, though, it seems apt to be left here, cut off, off-line, truncated, tapping away on a computer bought for 15 quid from the day-job, playing Elvis Costello CDs through the 1970s music centre. Only 15 nights to go. . .
What is surprising is the enormous amount of stuff in the Leamington Garret. Two years ago when I moved in, it was virtually unfurnished.
Now I am on my ownsome – surrounded by masses of furniture and ornaments.
I am going to make an effort to chuck stuff out, but I know I shall be leaving, in three weeks' time, a flat full of possessions.
Funny thing is a lot of it is good stuff.
Hey, I had better turn in because Attila’s marvellous, amazing Hungarian pear-based liquor is doing amazing stuff to my head – and I have a 6.30am appointment with the pool at Pure!
Here’s a picture I took out of the Lewes Garret window this morn.
* It is a day on, almost witching hour again.
Today I have had to nurse the mother of all hangovers. That Hungarian spirit was stronger than rocket fuel. No amount of medication could alleviate my symptoms today.
Only after drinking three large glasses of it did I notice it says on the bottle that it is a mere 52 percent proof!
I probably would have been saver drinking diesel from the Astra Martin!
All the same I have been working feverishly to get ahead of the curve.
I am determined to leave my departments at the day-job in good shape. Out of a sense of pride in a job well done, I suppose.
I like everything to be just so, and obsess about it if it is not. Until I drink. Then it can all fly into the air like a deck of cards!
It occurred to me today how bad I have become at networking. I have literally hundreds of scraps of paper or backs of business cards with numbers of contacts scrawled on them; yet I never bother to put them in a contacts book or even use most of them.
I must change, and start networking, using my contacts.
I guess the reason I don’t is more about shyness and embarrassment (and laziness) than anything else.
I tried to talk to British Telecom today. I got cut off twice and eventually, after another 30-minute wait, talked to a gentleman in India who could not help me.
When I worked as a business journalist at CNN Television, we often used to get the then Chairman or Chief Executive of British Telecom on our show as a guest.
The anchor, Becky Anderson, always seemed finish by asking him when he was going to resign.
Nothing seems to have improved in the intervening years.
British Telecom appears every bit as wantonly incompetent as it has ever been.
It gleefully turns away business and revels in making its customers’ lives more difficult.
I don’t think I shall bother pursuing them; I can write this journal offline and upload in my lunch hour at work or at the Lewes Garret.
At least the music on the computer is working. I think I would go mad without it.
Actually, being without the internet will probably help me.
I might even revise my 2007 poems and write a few new ones. I want to write something about leaving Leamington.
Tonight I stayed late at the day-job, then went to the Pure health club, chatted to the people in the pool and sauna, and came back here to the Garret and started to pack.
By my last day, I want to have all bar one suitcase of stuff out of here.
The morning after my leaving do, I will close the case and jump on the train. Never to return.
Prince’s Count The Days is playing. Seems apposite.
* Would you believe that the Sussex fuzz managed to overturn a cop car in the street outside the Lewes Garret, without any other moving vehicles being involved.
The fools seem to have been speeding along at around 4am, hit a parked car and turned over their police car, writing it off.
It were not for alacrity of our neighbour who was awoken by the noise and photographed the car from her window, I strongly suspect the whole affair would have been covered up.
The fuzz were damn quick in removing their wreckage. It was gone by the time we were up, with only some orange sand and broken glass to show they had been there.
I sincerely hope a prosecution is going to result from this appalling incident.
The speed limit is 20mph and, although the fuzz tend to believe speed limits do not apply to them, these maniacs must, I estimate, have been doing three times that.
I may even drop Norman Baker, our industrious and parochial MP, a line about it.
* Eight Pints of Poetry, my poetry club in Lewes, is getting some excellent coverage.
The local glossy what's on magazine, Viva Lewes, has published an excellent interview with our next headliner, Attila the Stockbroker, plugging the gig.
Incidentally, Attila the Stockbroker will be in action at the Lewes Arms, Lewes, on Friday, March 14!
The renowned poet and Warwick Poet Laureate Jane Holland has published an account of the last Eight Pints gig, with a couple of images, at Poets on Fire.
Finally, the earth really did move for me at the Leamington Garret. I was awoken by the earthquake, with the walls quivering like jelly and my bed and clothes rail rocking violently from side to side.
Confused, I got up and assumed someone had been trying to break in. Then I fell asleep again and woke up at 4am and 6.30am, believing I had dreamt it!
It is a shame Attila missed possibly the most exciting event to ever hit Leamington Spa!