This is a Retropost – looking back on earlier housesitting adventures.
Just like that Christmas was over for another year. We said goodbye to Bristol, but vowed to return. We enjoyed our three week stay, Bristol being much smaller and easier to navigate than London.
Thankfully we’d already booked our next London housesit – a three month appointment in Streatham, South London.
We hadn’t really spent much time in South London. We’d stopped for a few weeks in Putney. But Putney isn’t the real South London The population is mostly white and the house prices are staggering – streets where could easily fork out £3 million or more for a Victorian house.
Streatham was my proper education into the diversity of London.
I remember getting off the bus on the Streatham High Road and thinking that, for the first time in my life I was clearly in the ethnic minority here.
To be honest it was a little scary to start with.
Sure, I’d grown up in a mixed racial neighbourhood in New Zealand. I was the kid descended from English born parents. On one side we had a Pacific Island family. On the other side we had Scots. It was a lively neighbourhood as I remember. The Scottish liked to yell at each other a lot (they were probably just having a normal conversation). The Pacific Island family seemed happy to chase and strike their children with whatever footwear was available.
However, once I’d left home at 18 most of my life was spent around white, middle class folk in middle class suburbs – carbon copies of myself essentially.
So, deposited on Streatham High Road – a visual explosion of people from all parts of the world, the cacophony of languages and the sheer busyness of it all. How do all these people get any peace and quiet?
This was the first housesit that we were recommended for. Yes, someone thought us trustworthy enough to recommend us as housesitters to their friends. And a three month housesit at that. With no pets.
This was housesitting gold for us!
It was now winter and we really felt like bedding down for a little while. And even I was considering the horrible fact that not working and therefore not making any money wasn’t going to go on forever.
We were booked in Streatham until the last week in March. Teresa saw the opportunity for me to put out feelers for London work at an ideal time of the year. So with her encouragement, away we went.
The CV was rewritten and a cover letter developed. I researched the names of all the surveying firms in London. By the third week of January our kitchen table resembled an assembly line as we put final preparations into the big job mail out.
I sent out 23 letters and , amazingly, got two responses within the first week. I look back on those letters now and I’m sure it was Teresa’s ability to craft a captivating cover letter that got me those calls, as well as her pushing me to get the damn letters sent!
Another week down the track and I had two job offers. So here ended my life dressed in pajamas on the road to becoming a writer bigger than JK Rowling – or basically being and unemployed bum – dammit!
There was another opportunity come my way during this period. I had been seriously considering becoming a teacher. This option had always been lurking in the background and I had been taking the idea more seriously in the last few months. I’d attended all sorts of ‘Become a teacher’ events and, having signed up to the government induction process, I was getting reminder emails everyday about whether I’d taken the next step in the process.
The next step in the process was to go along to a local school and spend a day in the classroom. I’d delayed this scary prospect for quite some time but finally took the plunge in January.
But that day is worthy of it’s own blog post!