After my 11 days in the James Watt Halls of residence I moved into a mansion in the west end of Greenock, rather than straight to Glasgow. It was an amazing 19th century mansion and only a 10-minute drive from work. It used to belong to sugar king Abram Lyle back in the great days when the town used to flourish. However, the only thing that reminded of this era was probably the red carpet in the impressive hall.
The place had been run down by its current owners for years – two brothers of Indian descent who got it from their father who had bought lots of local properties back in the day when it was a piece of cake to get several mortgages at the same time.
They divided the mansion into 2 flats with 4 rooms each. 8 x £220, tax free, collected in cash on the first of each month and then it was basically impossible to reach them until the next rent was due. The mansion was not the only property in Greenock they ran like that.
On the side I moved in we had a bathtub with jacuzzie-function, which could only be used after I spent a whole Saturday cleaning it. The other side had a pool table, which would obviously brand it the party side – and hell, we did have great parties there! Even so great that the place eventually became known as “The Manic Mansion”.
I sometimes did call it “Rose Red”, though, because as in Stephen King’s “Rose Red”, weird things were going on in there sometimes… Such as the night when I got so drunk in the garden with some friends that I had to be carried into bed later on and the next morning we had all received a text from the landlord. Apparently some neighbour had called the police due to noise disturbance and they had been standing at the front door at 4 am and could hear loud music from inside. However, nobody on the inside did hear any music nor had any idea where it came from!
Another time some low-life scum tried to steal my car and a motorbike that was parked right next to it. One of my flatmates woke me up, because my car alarm went off… Only did my car not even have an alarm back then…
Even though my actual plan was to move to Glasgow as soon as ever possible, I lived in the mansion for 1.5 years in total. Apart from one exception, or two, we had a great community and living there was always good fun.
Still on the call centre salary, the mansion was the cheapest option in Greenock and also very conveniently located.
Unfortunately, many people left Greenock or Scotland altogether during 2009 and it became a bit boring.
In April 2010 I got really fed up with the work at IBM and when my car got stolen out of the locked garage, I felt the need to get out of there quickly. I had just gotten engaged and was about to move in with the wife anyways, so best time to start looking for other places. Once I was going to live in Glasgow, it would be easier to find job there, too.. Or so I thought!
I started flat hunting on gumtree and found a new place pretty fast – a 2-bedroom flat in Mount Florida with view on Hampden Park, to be shared with a Scottish guy about my age and his cat. Finally I was going to move to Glasgow.
When I had my leaving party at the mansion, it felt kind of weird, knowing that it would likely be my very last BBQ in that garden. I had only lived there for 1.5 years, but until today it is the second-longest duration I have ever lived in the same place – after home.
I rented a Transit Connect on a Saturday morning, in order to get all my stuff to Glasgow. 1.5 years earlier when I had first arrived, everything fitted in my Escort Convertible.
The landlord, despite promising to do so, did not bother making an appearance when I moved out. He did send me a text message later in the evening though, saying that he was unable to make it and I should come and collect my deposit in 3 weeks time in the mansion when he is there to collect the next rent.
Not only did I have to wait for that money, he also deducted me £90 for random stuff that was stained or broken in the house and when I complained, he laughed at my face.
Quite unfortunately for the guy, someone has reported him to the council a couple of days later for illegally renting out a property without an HMO-license. One may assume that this cost him slightly more than just 90 quid. Karma, eh?
A couple of years later I have been contacted by an old flatmate who had moved back into the mansion, as letters started arriving there in my name. Several speeding fines and other traffic offences with a car registered in my name, that I had never seen in my life. After contacting DVLA , I was sent a copy of the registration, filled out in the handwriting of the landlord. Thankfully they did remove my name from the registration after comparing my handwriting and signature with 2 of my previous cars.
The next time I would see the mansion would only be 4 years and 3 countries later, when I went back to Greenock for a visit and the old flatmate gave me a midnight tour. My old side had been destroyed by a storm and the landlord never bothered repairing it.
My heart bled as I walked through the ruins were so full of memories…