When I moved into my new flat, its aesthetic was what I described as “bleak chic” – bits of it were crumbling or peeling, or just didn’t work. It’s on an estate with security doors and our flat had a yellowing plastic handset through which you’re meant to be able to speak to people outside and buzz them in. This had never worked from the beginning and we improvised – parachuting keys off the balcony – so the handset became one of the ambient features of the place.
One day my housemate and I were eating breakfast and heard a strange, persistent ringing sound. We searched the flat for its source and found it coming from our yellowing handset. Jabbing at buttons, we got the sound to stop. Some minutes later, there was a rap at the door and there stood a paramedic, looking as if he was in a hurry. He looked at a number scrawled on his hand and said, “56 Ackroyd Drive?”
“I’ve got a patient for you.”
But it was the wrong house – I told him we weren’t expecting a patient and he walked off with a shrug. He may have got the wrong house, but he did heal our door buzzer – it’s worked without fail ever since.