All good things come to an end. The Scandretti-Persons’ landlords tipped them for the biff a few weeks ago, mainly because the landlady, who is four hundred and two, has lost the bulk of her marbles and come down with shingles both at the same time. This meant that Betty and the husband person had to scramble to find new digs, which fortunately wasn’t too hard; students were already sorted, and a number of apartment buildings had vacancies. The central city seemed the ticket, since apartments near Betty’s work tend to be leaky ex-hotel rooms with only a miniature toaster and a trouser press to cook in, so they cast a critical eye over a few towny places first.
Some were a little too awesome, like the abandoned railway station with a giant communal chessboard and original clocks – the upper stories have been adapted by slumlords, which would make a lovely, say, video game design, but leaves a little to be desired for living in.
Some, while perfect, were not to be. The 1930s-era hotel apartment with mezzanine bed and claw-foot bath, looking out over rooftops and the back of a gracious department store, was snapped up by a former guest before Betty could even fill in the papers.
The winning apartment, to cut to the chase, is in a perfectly ordinary building in the very centre of the CBD. From the sixth floor Betty and the HP look out over the public library, the art gallery, and the back of the (once again, abandoned) St James Regent Theatre. The area has quite recently been paved into a shared space for pedestrians, skateboarders, cyclists and drivers alike. Both the multiplex cinema and the indie arthouse are close enough to breathe on, practically; one can walk up the road or through the park to church, and Betty can catch the early bus to work moments after waking up, like Wallace and Gromit.
The library, as is fitting, has a distinct vibe of hipster-DIY; even the stoners who frequent the nearby stoop make their own bongs from recycled water bottles; a loosely communistic system of gold coins, circulated on request, keeps the local economy ticking over. Three and a half parking spaces are provided at ten minutes apiece, provoking a constantly changing installation of vehicular Tetris. The gallery clock chimes on the quarter hour. There is a café downstairs in which teenaged philosophers compare their colourful Doc Martens and sip long blacks.
There is an oven, a toaster oven, an insinkerator, a washer that dries, an ironing board, a balcony, and a large wardrobe. In short, Betty likes it excellently well, and intends to be very happy there. So the best is yet to come.