Moving house, moving on
I’m moving house again, which means I've got to deal with the treasure trove of perverse crap the previous tenants decided was too dark to move with them into their new life. I’ve always made some effort to clear my flat before moving out. You know, get rid of the old birthday cards, empty pill bottles, and nude posters of Paul Rudd. But I am, it seems, in the minority because every single room, flat, and house I’ve moved in to has been awash with the detritus of the person who lived there before me.
My first experience of the tenant graveyard was a receipt for a dildo, which had been thoughtfully left in the bedside cupboard of my youth detention centre/Scandinavian prison/halls of residence. Firstly, this told me much more about my new mattress than I really wanted to know, and secondly, who keeps the receipt for sex toys? Did she really think she could take it back when she got bored?
Mark, my friend from Leeds, once found a photo of a middle-aged woman with a deflated balloon stuck to her cunt with an unknown adhesive substance while he was clearing through a bedroom cupboard.
There are also endless tales of clit kits in chests of drawers, contraceptive pills secretly sellotaped up chimneys, home-printed A4 photos of gusset shots on top of wardrobes and, of course, condoms behind the bookshelves.
It's not all grot though. Some friends in a house down the road found a huge store of games consoles (the chunky old-fashioned kind that had big toast-sized cards you’d plug in), which they doggedly played their way through for an entire day, despite the fact that they were so old it was like trying to get competitive about Teletext.
Of course, quite a lot of the stuff you find in your new house is neither sexy, nor fun. Some friends in Hackney Downs found someone’s entire childhood in a suitcase that had been left in the loft, including clothes, photographs and toys. After getting in touch with the owner via Facebook, the next time they saw her was on the Channel 5 programme Breaking into Tesco.
My friend Martin is a mine of tenant detritus gold, including inheriting a whole marijuana farm. He moved into a house in Portland, Oregon, but hadn’t thought to check the basement during his first look around. As he says, the discovery went something like this:
Clue 1: All the concrete in basement had been ripped up exposing earth.
Clue 2: Scaffold and wiring above ripped up concrete that looked like it had supported lights.
Clue 3: Heating vent from central air pointing directly at an empty space in basement.
Clue 4: Lock on the inside of the basement door.
Clue 5: Previous tenants: white people with dreadlocks.
Conclusion: I lived in a former pot farm.
In another house he found a stash of National Geographic, stolen from Hanford library, in which every nipple had been blacked out by some prudish serial killer. Apparently, in the US, Hanford is the equivalent of Sellafield, but it leaked, so there is a considerable chance that the thief in question also glowed like a 40-watt bulb.
Closer to home, my friend Chris found a poster of Guru Nanak in his kitchen cupboard, and a “lads-on-tour” T-shirt stuffed behind his bed. It was navy with the words "Bish Bash Bosh 04" printed across the front in orange. He kept it. The freak.