Kevin Whybrow

Profesor de inglés

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The awning has broken - should I move house?

“To move house” is an English phrase that is a little quirky. After all, it is almost impossible to physically move your house (yes, it is possible to move some houses). Of course, the phrase simply means to change the place where you live. I have lived in this apartment since October 2018 and here I sit in August 2019 contemplating whether I should move out at the end of my one-year contract.
It would be a shame to move; I rather like living here. I have four rooms with large windows that all face south and the sun streams in on most days. During this last winter, I didn’t need to turn on the central heating. In fact, at times, I had to open the windows because it was too warm. Also, I have a large terrace which practically doubles the size of the accommodation and, at least for me, the terrace is the most important room in the house; it’s where I spend most of my time, weather permitting.
So why am I contemplating moving? Well, two reasons mainly. Firstly, I may be about to ‘go to war’ with my landlord. Secondly, the neighbour that lives directly below me seems to want to go to war with me. Allow me to explain further.
The other day, I was sitting on my afore-mentioned terrace in the shade of the rather large awning when there was a sudden gust of wind and an almighty ‘crraashhh’; one arm of the awning had broken and the awning had crashed down onto the table at which I was sitting, just missing my head. My heart and head were pounding; the awning might have missed my head but the table hadn’t as I dived underneath it! Slightly dazed, I got to my feet, took a picture of the forlorn awning and sent it off to the landlord with a polite request for his advice. 
The advice wasn’t long in arriving, “It’s your responsibility.” it said. 
Once more, I found my heart was pounding. 
“With due respect,” I replied, “I think this is your responsibility, as is the leaking washing machine which your insurance company told you is too old to repair. Please ask your insurance company to investigate.”
The next morning, I received a call from the insurance company; the awning isn’t covered by the insurance unless there is a wind of at least 80kmph. 
“What? 80kmph? Who the f…Who, on earth, puts out an awning in 80kmph wind…a sailor who can’t afford a boat..?”
“The awning and the washing machine were both fine when they were passed to you…and now they’re not…I don’t know why. But, it’s your responsibility.”
“I’m not going to say any more. I shall pass this to my solicitor.”
“Take your time.”
“I’ll take my time to look for a new apartment.”
“Your choice.”

So, that’s where things stand with my landlord. What would you do?

The relationship with my neighbour who lives in the flat below me is a lot less of an issue. She lives with her husband and her three sons and a very yappy Yorkie terrier. As a rule, we exchange pleasantries if our paths cross but, recently, she has blanked me. It’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying when someone behaves like that and you are clueless as to why. 
Then, yesterday, she stopped my girlfriend and asked her if we had pinned a letter to her door. My girlfriend confirmed that we hadn’t. Apparently, someone has complained about her youngest son who is about 4 years old and who screams and shouts for long periods of time, on average, three to four times a day. He also taunts and torments the other children in the community who are usually a few years older than him. The result is, they wait for an appropriate moment and exact their revenge; cue more screaming. For this reason, I have nicknamed the boy ‘El niño del diablo’. So, I do have sympathies with whoever has complained. However, I would never have gone so far as to writing a letter, especially an anonymous one. 
At least now I have a solution to a problem that I had with my neighbour. The thing is, I find it difficult to look at her – and now I don’t have to look at her. You see, she has had botox treatment on her lips. Unfortunately, the result is that this clearly once beautiful lady, now resembles something akin to Donald Duck. If I do look at her, my ever so recent brush with the insurance company over the awning comes to mind. I mean, is she aware that her lips might not be insured if the wind is less than 80kmph? 
Ok, enough! I'm being rude about a lady who is a very hard-working mother and deserves better.

I am reminded of a former student of mine who once missed a lesson and then sheepishly asked to explain her absence at the end of the lesson the following week.
“Please don’t laugh,” she begged, as the other students filed out of the room.
Now, I don’t know what your reaction is when somebody says this to you. In my case, it always feels as if my ears are furiously pulling at the edges of my mouth, trying to drag them up against their will.
“Of course I won’t laugh,” I replied unconvincingly, forcing the edges of my mouth to resist all upward movement.
“I’ve had buttocks put in my fridge…” she whispered conspiratorially.
All resistance failed. I had a vision of visiting the fridge in the black of night, of opening the door and then…tadaa…the fridge light illuminating a huge posterior sitting on the shelf.
“(snort) What??” I blurted with a smile.
“You said you wouldn’t laugh,” my student was crestfallen.
“I’m not laughing. But I think something must have got lost in translation,”
“I’ve. Had. Buttocks. Put. In. My. Fridge!” she insisted…quietly.
Saying the words slowly wasn’t helping the situation. By this time, I was grinning from ear to ear and trying to swallow the laugh that was fighting its way up from my stomach.
“I really don’t think you mean ‘buttocks’,” I sympathised.
“Yes, ‘buttocks’, ‘buttocks’, ‘buttocks’,”
It’s impossible to describe the images that were, quite literally, bouncing around in my head by now.
“Perhaps…perhaps it’s the pronunciation?” I hazarded.
“But-tocks…Bot-tocks…Bot-tocks,” and then she began jabbing at her forehead, “in my fridge!”
Suddenly, something like a fridge-light went off in my mind dispelling the swirling bums.
“Oh…you’ve had botox put in your fringe!” I exclaimed.
“Yesssss! That’s what I said!!!”
“Yes, you did.” I replied softly, “I just wasn’t listening properly.”

So, there you have it. Both the landlord and an immediate neighbour appear to be angry with me – for reasons not in my control – as a result of which, I am less than happy with the place I live.

What would you do?
 
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