So, we’ve officially lived in our flat now for a year! That does feel like a milestone for our little home sweet home.
Some of you will remember the week that we moved in, when we were unpacking loads of things that’d been in storage for a year and thus doing tons of laundry, we hung a tablecloth on the line outside our flat to dry. And while we were off at the market, someone lit it on fire.
Thankfully our next-door neighbour called the fire department, and we returned home to sirens, a charred bathroom window exterior, and a pile of ash on the corridor floor instead of a tablecloth. The fire department told us someone had to have lit it on fire deliberately and gave us a new smoke detector. We waited a month, strung up another laundry line, and life carried on.
Last week, however, as we were leaving the house, we found a little pile of clothes pins on the floor outside our door, and looked up to discover the laundry line was gone again. We could see someone in an official hi-vis vest knocking on doors below and getting another family to take down their laundry line, and he saw us staring and came back up the stairs.
“Yeah, we put a sticker notice on your door two days ago, the management says all the washing lines have to come down,” he told us, with a tangle of clothesline in one hand and clippers in the other.
“Huh. We didn’t see any sticker. How come?” we asked.
“It’s a fire hazard,” he replied, pointing to the charred bricks under our bathroom window. “I don’t know if all this was burnt when you moved in, but it’s an issue. You can call the office if you want and they’ll explain it all to you.”
We looked at each other and nearly burst out laughing. One year later, the management finally decides to address the problem—in the most ineffective way possible! The likelihood of any laundry catching on fire by accident here is slim, and cutting down clotheslines isn’t going to stop random acts of “Anti-Social Behavior,” as it’s called here in the UK.
“They probably don’t want to have to pay to replace any more windows like ours,” we thought. And since none of the flats in our building have dryers, and there are few rooms big enough to dry laundry indoors without tripping over it, we’re taking bets on how long it will be before everyone just strings their lines up again…