Bed Bugs and Beyond

I always thought the full moon was meant to make strange things happen but it appears to be the sun over here. For the first time it’s actually hot enough here for me to whinge about the temperature on occasion. I have my suspicions about the British heat based on the fact that nowhere has air con here and you’d be lucky to find a fan in most places. It’s uncomfortable in the way that Australia is in the middle of winter when people basically park themselves on top of the nearest heater. Here the dusty old fan that hasn’t been used since the mid 90’s is the equivalent. I have been retreating to the lounge room which I have worked out is the coolest spot in the house and I can often be found parked on the couch with my laptop on a hot night with the back doors open so I can breathe in the fragrant jasmine in our backyard as it wafts in. We often find ourselves venturing up to the rooftop to stare at awe at the beautiful midsummer sunsets and stare at the clouds. The change of season has brought about many other new beginnings. Roxanne said a final goodbye and left for Brisbane, it still feels as though she is just traveling around Europe and there are little reminders of her all over the house still.

Only a week after Glastonbury we were already missing it and arranged to meet with a few of our fellow Glastonbury family members at a bar at the end of the street which we found out was selling the same cider we had enjoyed at the cider bus. Glastonbury has left me with dare I say it – a bit of a tan. But on the downside my poor nose peeled for days and was constantly met with comments like ‘Oh look how sunburnt your nose is!’ as if I haven’t had a chance to look at myself in a mirror. The excesses of Glastonbury has left my skin and hair feeling yucky and my body tired and in need of some sort of detox for fear I had aged about 5 years in 5 days. Physically I was feeling pretty awful but mentally Glastonbury had given me the friendly shove I needed to go home and do something about it. In the spirit of transformation and change I have started trying to eat healthier, budget more and look after myself a bit better so I’m not as susceptible to sickness. In the midst of all of this amazing empowering self-improvement, one morning we were awoken by the news that a man had been sent by the landlord following many emails to investigate the cause of Jess’s itching at night which somehow had alluded me all this time. Before we knew it the mattresses were turned upside down and material was torn away and the words ‘You’ve got bed bugs’ were uttered from his lips, as apparently one had actually made a run for it after being exposed from underneath my bed base. We all gathered around forming a sort of witch hunt as we followed him from room to room as he made his grim discoveries. I was secretly excited to have the excuse to poke my nose into other housemates rooms whom I never normally enter.Luckily it turns out only the top floor and possibly the ground floor had signs of infestation – but he made it clear that a significant process was needed in order to rid the place of these vile things that had been nibbling us in our sleep. Step one was the removal of everything on our floor in our rooms and anything that we may ingest ie: toothbrushes, water bottles. Then he fumigated our rooms and came out of Andy’s room triumphantly with a dead one like the weird kid in school at show and tell. Then came the washing – the incessant washing of all of our clothes at 70 degrees before placing them in thick garbage bags and taping them up. So essentially – for the next month or so Jess and I are living out of garbage bags and I have moved into Andy’s room which was the worst affected. He was traveling so I was nominated to stay in there as bait for the bugs seeing as I don’t react to the bites.

Around about this time was the arrival of our two new housemates Megan and Tamara – since then the house has been turned upside down. Unlike our last room mates whom never left their room they are the exact opposite and are such a breath of fresh air. They have livened up the place and injected a new energy.With all the change overs in housemates, parties and friends of friends coming to stay in the warmer weather the house has gotten much more chaotic and messy, but also full of laughter and noise and commotion which is a welcome change.

And I’m enjoying having a room to myself even though it’s only temporary I have forgotten how nice it is to have your own space. The weather really does affect your mood! I don’t care what anyone says, I see the changes in people everywhere.

One such afternoon Merlin let us finish at 4pm to go down to the local cricket ground for a BBQ on the green. I said I’d stay for a drink and something to eat and leave – which never happened. As soon as we had a nice place sat on the grass sipping pimms and watching our fellow workmates play a game of rounds I got comfortable. Feeling oh so English as we tucked into a fully catered BBQ sun baking or (sunbathing as they say here) on lawn chairs playing crochet and eating strawberries and cream which is ‘the thing’ to do here in this weather. I had some great chats with fellow co-workers, trying to teach them to speak with an Australian accent and failing miserably! I had my first taste of Prosecco and first game of balls (That’s not innuendo!) As I soaked up the atmosphere and observed everyone I suddenly realised that Merlin was the English version of Luna Park for me. Beautiful people of all ages and backgrounds, great social nights, not too much responsibility, nice little job perks. Nice, but not what I came all the way here for, and although it’s been an awesome experience working there I have to keep reminding myself why I came here so as not to get stuck in a rut again. I came here to find work in TV and I cannot lose sight of that because if I do it means that I’ve learned nothing. So as the sun set and the alcohol kept flowing I made a phantom exit – so as to avoid being coerced by the drunks into staying as I had to be up early the next morning.

It was back to Le Plan B for me – looking for evening work so I can be free to complete work experience during the day. After staking out evening jobs in the area and getting no follow up after what I thought was a promising interview at a pub in Clapham I once again began researching clubs and bars in Tooting. After following up a past email I got an interview at Inferno’s with a surprisingly young, very shy polish bar supervisor which turned into a trial that Friday evening. Having already been rostered on to work in the call centre that weekend I pretty much did back to back shifts from Friday right through to  Sunday. They basically said it would only be two nights a week max – which wasn’t ideal as I wanted more hours close to home, but as my contract would be finishing by early Sept I thought it might be a good idea to grab this and get some bar work under my belt. Inferno’s is located on the high street of the popular clubbing and pubbing area of Clapham, and much closer to home.I had visited once before for Glen’s leaving do after Adventure bar fell through. It’s a disco 70’s and 80’s themed nightclub with mirrors and gaudy carpet, huge mirror balls and big fish tanks that make you feel as though you stepped into a 70’s porno. The place is huge too – there are four levels with more cheesy music than you can poke a stick at. But the atmosphere is fun and the staff seem pretty relaxed.

I was assigned to the piano bar for my trial and was being looked after by Polish bar supervisor Mariusz who is probably the closest person I’ve ever met to one of the lead characters I created in my sitcom script. He was fun and would laugh and dance the macarena with me behind the bar but the second I did something slightly wrong he would change back into a stern boss. One such embarrassing occasion he turned to me in the middle of serving someone and said over the loud music ‘5 Sols’ after seeing the confused look on his face when I got out 5 Sol beers from the fridge and opened one he starting yelling at me ‘My song! My Song!’ the combination of his thick European accent, loud music/timing made me mishear him. Nevertheless he was annoyed. Mostly though he was a good trainer and I learned a lot from him and spent an awful lot of time watching him serve people. Fortunately for me Sebastian came up at Midnight and asked how I was going then uttered something like ‘you can stay past 12..’ Which I later found out meant that I had passed the trial as I wouldn’t have made it past then otherwise. Unfortunately though I completed the WHOLE shift which meant we finished at 4am and we were once again let out into the night which had become the morning as the sun was already coming up at this stage. I carried my shoes and walked barefoot in the early light reminiscent of the walk of shame.I managed to crawl into bed at around 4:45 only to reawaken at 6am for my shift in the call centre. I managed to get some shuteye on the long bus trip to work, I ached all over – not used to working on my feet for sometime. That night I raced home and managed to have enough time to shower and get changed – feeling surprisingly refreshed after so little sleep I bounced down to Broadway on my way to my next shift at the club. I went into a convenience store to purchase an energy drink only to reach into my handbag to find my wallet was missing. I had been roaming around like a zombie at work that day and was falling asleep on the bus but I had my Oyster and wallet right up until the last bus ride home where I was standing. So I can only deduce that I either dropped it walking up the hill home or after I ran out of the house down to Broadway it somehow fell out. I raced back home in the hot afternoon sun sweat dripping down my back in a panic thinking I would be late for my second shift and the job would be history. I frantically rustled my sheets and emptied my handbag and started to break down when I realised I wouldn’t be able to get to work that night, and maybe not at all for another month? Exhausted from lack of sleep and back to back work hours, not to mention the stress of trying to live out of garbage bags and trying to stick to all the strict bedbug instructions I didn’t need this. Emma came in to try to calm me down slipping an oyster card and ten pounds into my hand which I am eternally grateful for as It saved my arse over the next few days. Not having much time to do anything before my shift I didn’t call up the bank until the next morning when I was on my way back to the call centre. I cancelled my Oyster and my debit card and naively put off doing anything about my Aussie credit card as I knew I would have to make a long distance phone call and muck around. That day I received a missed call with an automated message from Lloyd’s, thinking it was a voice mail from them from the other day when I was trying to reset my internet banking I ignored it until I got home and finally called the number back. I knew my cards were cancelled so wasn’t too concerned at this stage. It wasn’t until the automated message started listing all of these unknown transactions for me to authorize that my heart sank and my stomach lurched. All these things started running though my mind – is this some mastermind criminal? Are they going to be able steal my identity? Was I pick pocketed? Was this really the fraud department ringing me or some elaborate hoax to get even more account details off me? As I hung up the phone assured by them that they would investigate and refund the money back onto my account after so many working days my mind switched to the credit card.

I nervously rang them, knowing my card had reached its limit and hoping that, that would prevent them from being able to make any transactions. But no, this soulless person had raped my credit card of funds too. Sports equipment,takeaways, cabs around London