Goodbye to Coventry

The weekend just passed was my last one in Coventry, after two and a half years writing software for a living at the Lloydspharmacy head office. My rented apartment, which I vacate next weekend, is about a mile down the road, from where I walk to work every day. All this time I’ve kept in touch with Anna back in Italy using Skype, which is both a blessing and a curse; a miracle of technology that somehow manages to irritate as much as it pleases.

131220-1When I arrived here in August 2011 I was on my uppers. Finances were bad. I was paying two mortgages; one for my flat near Ventimiglia and the other for Anna’s villa outside Apricale. On top of that I was financing a legal battle for her to regain ownership of the villa and evict her husband, who was occupying it and refusing to pay a penny toward the mortgage, local taxes or a court order that had awarded maintenance against him. To allow the mortgage to default would have meant losing everything so I hung in there with my funds diminishing month by month for about five years. Since this coincided with the recession we had very little income and the job offer from Lloyds came at a most critical moment.

131220-2The next two years were a period of stabilisation. To the two mortgages I now added rent on the apartment, which left very little over each month but at least stemmed the flow. Then about six months ago I managed to find a buyer for my Italian flat, and at the same time the legal battle finally came to an end. The court had forced a sale of half of the villa and I was the successful buyer, using all my remaining funds. Once the previous occupant had been persuaded to leave we were at last free to make a start on the plans we’d had on hold for so long.

Even though I’ve reached the ripe old age of 65 the company seems to be in no great hurry to see me go. In many ways I’d like to stay on but it’s not much fun living so far away from home with visits only for one weekend a month. So here I am finishing things off, then it’s back home to let the future decide what it will for us.

The past two and a half years were unexpected, yet totally memorable. I’ve never worked with such a friendly, decent bunch of people, and although times have been difficult with many changes happening in the company, relations between my colleagues have always been excellent. The multicultural environment was new to me and I found it most stimulating, much more so than previous jobs in all-white middle-class environments. I would never pick Coventry as the ideal place to live, but I’ll certainly miss the people I’ve worked with for 29 months, and I hope some of us can keep in contact.

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