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‘I clawed my way up through hard graft – but neighbour has rent paid by parents’


So last week I mentioned I’d bought a new house in Chelsea. Now, those who don’t know my history might want to have a Google nosey before hating me just for moving into the Royal Borough. I’ve been homeless, I’m working class, dyslexic, blah blah blah – in short, I’ve earned this house. So hear me out.

Years ago, when I first moved to London from the North, I ended up living in one of actress Michelle Collins’ properties. I worked with her and one day she mentioned the one she had in Chelsea was empty.

I was living in a tiny bedsit and bizarrely, and I’ve never said this to Michelle (so if she’s reading this, #Awkward), the rent she was asking for a one-bed flat in Chelsea was exactly the same as my grotty little studio in a rough street in Camden, so it was a no-brainer – even though at the time, in the early 2000s, I’d never even heard of the place.

I remember letting myself in to find this fabulous, huge apartment empty apart from a bed, an empty bottle of Cristal, a box of (unanswered) EastEnders fan mail and one stiletto discarded by the toilet. I thought it was the height of decadence! I dreamed that one day I’d own a property there.



My ex Paul hard at work
My ex Paul hard at work – and keeping an eye on my handbag for me

What I didn’t account for was how long it would take. I am 45 this year and only now – after decades of hard slog, several properties, two bestselling novels and looking after some quite frankly vile stars (alongside the lovely ones) in my other life as a “celeb agent” – can I finally afford to move back.

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I was browsing Rightmove, as you do, casually oohing at the Chelsea properties I definitely couldn’t afford when I spotted not only one I could but one I used to stare at wishing it was mine. A stone’s throw from Michelle’s flat was this gorgeous little studio house, built between big mansions. I called the estate agent and offered the full asking price.

“But you haven’t even seen it, Ms Blake,” said the startled and rather posh estate agent. “I don’t need to, I know that property and I’ll take it,” I replied.



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Within 10 days I had exchanged and completed, and was standing in the courtyard with the keys in my hand, ready to enter. “Well, you did it,” I told myself, with a bottle of Buck’s Fizz under one arm and my ex Paul, a brilliant builder, next to me, ready to see exactly what was needed to turn this new house into my home. And that’s when the sports car moment happened. That’s when I saw HER.

“Oh, hi, you must be the new owner,” said this gorgeous girl, who must have been about 20. I followed my ex’s eyes as he took in her impressive figure and wavy thick hair. “I’m Lottie, Daddy rents me the penthouse upstairs. It’s so much fun here, we have parties all the time. Do come if you’d like to meet any of the other neighbours, some even know the Made In Chelsea cast, so they often pop in,” she said with a smile as I dug the keys into my palm so hard I could feel blood about to flow.

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And with that she was off and I was suddenly aware that in all my years of longing to get back to the area, I hadn’t realised I’d aged. Bloody Mother Nature is a bitch. Entering the house suddenly had a whole new feeling as I looked up from my window to the terrace of the penthouse, knowing that so much natural collagen was living it up inside it rent-free, while I’d had to claw my way back into the SW10 postcode by hard bloody graft.

So if you happen to pass this middle-aged blonde looking overly glam in Prada sunglasses letting herself into a posh house as fast as she can to avoid bumping into the local perky princess competition, don’t laugh like I did. Realise that, sometimes, finally getting what you want comes with some of the things you didn’t.

To be fair, her dad Christopher is quite fit. He’s popped round a few times to see how the building work is going and I think he likes me. I guess if I got with him I could probably get him to fund her travels, so I could be the Belle of the Chelsea Ball.

But I’ll save that story for another day…





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