Helen and I only ever lived in two houses – the third home that we had together and the last one. The former of those was in Runcorn and we occupied it for all of eight months.
We moved there because Helen had been seconded to a job in nearby Warrington and, as we tended to do, we lived somewhere closer to her work because she was the one with the job which required her to work antisocial hours. Situated just off the M56 motorway and on a train line into Manchester as well, it was a convenient place to be for both of us.
At first sight the house wasn’t too bad, either. A three bedroomed detached house, it was situated in a close so small and quiet that even Google Streetview couldn’t be bothered to send one of their cars down it, even though fifteen years passed between us leaving and their ubiquity.
In practice, it was somewhat different. We were, of course, renting and it turned out that, yet again, we had landed ourselves with a landlord intent on spending as little as possible on the place we were living in. The house had no central heating and had to be warmed using expensive electric convector heaters. It had no gas, which meant that all of the hot water was generated by an immersion heater that cost a fortune to run (and the hot water tank burst within weeks of us moving in, too). And the beds featured the most uncomfortable mattresses ever. They had actual pieces of wire poking out of them. If we had been less young and naive we would, I am sure, have demanded replacements.
I have some very strong memories of being there, though. Of lying awake on a very cold November morning, trying to postpone getting out of the warm bed for as long as possible, and hearing the news that Freddie Mercury had died. Of watching the Rugby World Cup final on our tiny black and white television. And of the time a small bird fell down the chimney and spent an afternoon flapping around the living room and scaring the heck out of Helen. As a home, it had a lot of potential. It was just a shame that the owner didn’t think as much of it as we did.