Thursday 17 December 2009

Getting the balance wrong.

All it takes is one drug addict/alcoholic/person who 'forgets' to take his medication/recently released prisoner/illegal immigrant/recently divorced person with an attitude/religious crank/lonely and invaraiably boring person/vindictive man/vindictive woman/person with poor personal hygiene/food thief/gossip monger/pseudo intellectual bore/young person kicked out by his or her parents/long term tenant who thinks it is their house/student who thinks drugs are cooler than studying/etc etc etc and the delicate balance of harmony is shattered.

Getting the balance right.

I once lived in a so called 'Best house', the landlords owned three properties and explained they put all the 'rubbish' in the worst house, the in betweens (I presume) in their second house and as I was one of the 'decent' ones, I found myself sharing with the previously mentioned teenage hot head, someone who appeared to be permanently drunk, some unemployed person who had been studying an Open University course for so long presumably to improve his employment prospects that he probably started when the original 4am BBC2 broadcasts were first shown and somebody else who (wait for it) was also unemployed and was 'having a few problems'. I fitted in quite well and by bedsit standards they were quite 'normal' people.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

I know people.

Some people in bedsits think they have contacts who can kneecap you, trouble is the cost of a hit man job is a lot more than their giros and their disposable income wouldn't even pay for a black eye, I nod sagely and prepare myself for another bout of delusion whenever I hear these words.

Electrical cuts.

Some of the best people to share with are contractors, they come to this area from all over UK and use bedsits as a kind of place to get their heads down after a hard days work, some go home a couple of nights during the week but for those from further afield they work all week, come home, have something to eat, watch a bit of TV, maybe go for a couple of pints and a game of pool and after finishing work on Friday usually go home and return late sunday night, they are usually decent, hard working people and easy to get along with. One of them I lived with was spot on, a typical Glaswegian (if there is such a thing) and I got on with him immediately, he was an old hand at bedsit life, after a few days he bought a second hand fridge/freezer and stocked it full of food, being wise to certain things, he took the precaution of fitting locks to the doors and went home one friday safe in the knowledge that he had a week of decent meals to look forward to the following week, the landlord had other ideas: upon seeing this fridge, he announced it was 'using up too much electricity' and promptly cut the cable and threw the plug away, judging by the sounds I heard on the sunday night, one Glaswegian contractor was very unimpressed to find his food had gone off, I can't exactly recall what he said to the landlord but there were one or two choice words thrown in, personally I thought it was an abysmal way to treat a decent tenant.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

A festive message.

Christmas is coming, I once spent Christmas alone in a bedsit, I wasn't in a relationship at the time and my family have never been best buddies. It actually wasn't that bad, I could sit and watch all the old films, the local spar shop was open so I could stock up with a few beers, I had the place to myself and found out a local pub was open if you used a back entrance, I had a couple of pints, helped myself to their buffet and went home reasonably well oiled and watched a bit more TV. The following year I was with someone so I spent the day round her house stuffed myself with mince pies, played with her kids toys ( I don't care what anyone says, give any adult a scalectrix and he's well away) and late on boxing day after watching the football results, I decided to 'check' on the bedsit, nothing had happened in my absence but I got talking to the 80 odd year old widow who lived next door who spent her Christmas like every other day alone, I returned to my cozy little life feeling a little guilty, how quickly we forget.

Monday 14 December 2009


I must have been lucky, the violence I witnessed was never directed against me, being of at least average intelligence, I learned to play the 'grey man', stay neutral, keep myself to myself and avoid a scene, it's a survival tip/defence mechanism and I managed OK, others didn't and I saw people beaten up for the most trivial reasons, usually it was caused by boredom.


Apart from poor diet, isolation, the smell of damp and the undercurrent of violence the main and unescapable feature of many bedsits is cold, the kind of cold you can only experience when rooms have no heating other than your own fan heater, one place was so cold that to get a shower we used to turn on the oven in the kitchen on and leave the hot water running in the shower until it was warm enough to strip off, single glazed windows with wooden frames often ice over on the inside in winter and even when you go to bed, you usually have to sleep in clothes, the feeling of cold if you need to get out of bed during the night is indescribable, Imagine being on a train station platform waiting for a connection, no cafes or buffer bars are open, it's a tiny station with no waiting room and it's open to the elements, you're cold, wet, hungry, your teeth start chattering and you just think of warmth, welcome to bedsit land cold.

Friday 11 December 2009

Friday on my mind.

Just a thought or several, why do the underclass always kick off on a friday? Why do most arguments in bedsits seem to occur on a friday? Why do uneducated, unemployable chavs feel the need to end the week on an agressive note? These 'people' have remarkably short attention spans and even shorter tempers? Why do some landlords insist that decent working people who have fallen upon hard times should share with these examples of human rubbish? Even now, I have a quiet night on on a friday, I might pop out to a quiet pub or do a bit of shopping but I recall too many bedsit brawls to even consider being around too many people or too much alcohol, drink and volatile people is a bad combination so is drunken volatile people in the same house as sober rational people (who quite often have to be up for work on a saturday morning). Landlords take heed.

Thursday 10 December 2009

The greediest man ever?

There is well known 'Rachman' type landlord who quite frankly is a disgrace, he just crams as many people as possible into unsanitary fleapits, once he phoned my landlord (there were several) and suggested evicting us all and replacing us with illegal farm/landworkers, I later found out that these people were living 3 or 4 to a room and often 'hotbedding' (one person slept while another worked a different shift), just out of interest this phone call took place while this disgraceful specimen of humanity was on a skiing holiday to the Swiss Alps, the shamelessness of living off other peoples misery should disgust any decent person, he certainly doesn't belong to that catergory.

A few words on Immigration.

Immigration as such is no bad thing, uncontrolled immigration however most certainly is and Labour have not to put too fine a point on it totally screwed up the immigration/asylum fiasco, we were one of the few EU countries (can't we just get out of the EU and run our own country?) not to restrict entry from new member states in 2004 and as a result were overwhelmed with new arrivals, I have lived with many immigrants and found them usually decent enough people (if you exclude the awful Irish student, I generally find the Irish cheerful enough but this one was an exception to the rule), I have had/am having relationships with foreign women but that is a different matter altogether, the next foreigner I lived with was Jordanian, a very nice guy, like many students he 'overstayed' his visa but I got on well with him and often used to sit chatting with him for hours, it was a novelty meeting a teetotaller too, I lived with a Turkish guy who I only ever heard coming in at strange hours and I think I only ever actually saw him once, a couple of Zimbabwean women who were certainly not backwards at being forward and at different times Chinese people, the Chinese language (yes I know there are many variants) sounds incredibly sweet when it's being spoken by a pretty young woman but very harsh when two men are arguing! I love Chinese food and often eat out in a local buffet type place or get a takeaway, let me warn you the stuff my flatmates cooked at home smelled NOTHING like the stuff I'm used to, it positively reeked and frequently made me physically sick, needless to say I never asked to taste it, I remember also a Polish couple I once shared with, nice people but the thing I first noticed was that: a lot of Polish women are incredibly beautiful, they seem to have remarkable bone structures, age well and have glowing complexions, this one was the plainest woman I have ever seen, not ugly just plain, for some bizzare reason she reminded me of the 'Aunt Sally' character played by Una Stubbs in 'Wurzel Gummidge' (showing my age now!). It's incredible what bedsit life does to you.

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Sights, sounds and smells.

I can't believe I failed to mention one of the women I shared with, although I have to confess I very rarely saw her, the impression I had of her was that she was either painfully shy or suffering from what are now termed 'mental health issues', the few times anyone saw her, she would scurry away into her room, if we dared to even mutter 'hello' to her, she would glare at us in such a way that didn't encourage further conversation, I gathered she had sons who would sometimes visit and end up shouting at her that she was a 'disgrace', but the smell comig from her room was something else, I have it on good authority that the first smell that Korean war veterans noticed about the country they were sent to was human excrement which the Koreans used (or maybe still do) as fertiliser, as a kid I used to wander around the woods and local farming areas and I can tell you that cow dung probably runs it a close second, I've smelled my fair share of farts (some I even managed to produce) but the stench from this unfortunate womans room became so bad we asked the landlord to investigate, while she went to sign on he went into her room to trace the source of this odour, her reluctance to venture far from her room was obviously quite an issue, apart from a bag full of empty food tins and old sanitary towels was a bucket which for some undiscovered length of time she had been using as a toilet.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Perfect day.

Not one of my favourite songs (I find Lou Reed depressing, probably ideal bedsit music) but by bedsit standards a good day is getting up on a day off work (assuming you do work, that is), having a relatively clean kitchen with a fridge you can safely leave food in, making your own breakfast without having to step over at least one druggie/wino/dosser, being able to sit in the living room and watch a bit of TV, going out for the day with no worries and coming home to a still intact front door, no smashed windows, no low life squabbles, no urine soaked furniture after someone fell asleep after one too many, no drug parties, no squatters that have decided to 'crash out' for a few days and best of all no sarcastic notes left under your door from Rachman landlords and to top it all a decent nights sleep, I enjoy and appreciate the simple things in life, at one place I used to walk through the door clutching a can of super strength lager just to 'fit in', nowadays I enjoy a large bottle of fruit juice and above all peace and quiet!

Thursday 3 December 2009

Long term inmates.

The 'space cadet' I mentioned earlier is at the time of writing in his mid 50's and has lived in bedsits for around 30 years which probably explains a lot, but one oldy boy has been living in the same freezing cold room for around 25 years, a quarter of a century of just existing, even the unusable twin tub has gone which means he has to either wash his clothes by hand or walk to a launderete, in some ways I feel sorry for him, his whole apperance has a look of desperation, he has developed a serious drink problem and every time I see him around he seems more and more depressed, he once told me he wouldn't care if he died, that's an awful thing to say about yourself but to be brutally honest, I doubt if anyone would care or even notice, how do people end up like that?

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Dead or Alive?

Easy way to tell, if you should ever come home and see someone surrounded by empty alcohol containers, bottles of pills or with a needle inserted into their arm (or possibly all three), just jab them with a pen, apply force to their pressure points or use ice from the freezer or a boiling kettle on their bare skin, if they move, the ambulance can wait, if they don't it's too late.

Selective hearing.

Moaning old women, they just become a frequently annoying thorn in your side in bedsits, here I am in a shoebox sized room and if I so much as sneezed or coughed, the dragon next door would hear it and 'report' me to my landlady, I would get a weekly dressing down. Meanwhile a taxi driver a few doors away would warm up his diessel charabang for about 15 minutes at some ungodly hour so loudly it made the single glazed, rotting window frames rattle, it became my alarm call but the cantankerous biddy next door never heard it, this taxi driver was a 'lovely man who would do anything for anyone'....including wake me up at 4am, I had to be up at 4.30 anyway, every time I put the kettle on or switched on the toaster, I wondered if the noise was waking up the neighbours.

Who ate all the pies?

Generally the people I shared with kept their hands off my food, it was usually safe to leave it in the shared fridge but of course it wasn't always plain sailing, I found that having your own fridge (complete with lock) or even having a mini fridge in your bedroom a solution at those times, students were the worst for pilfering food, usually they would leave the dirty plates everywhere yet still try to deny they had been at your grub, alcoholics were another safe bet to steal food, one used to return empty packets into the fridge, I got sick of him so deliberately spiked a carton of milk, not with drugs, I went upstairs with a copy of a top shelf magazine and made the milk a little bit creamier, I hope he enjoyed his tea that morning, dopeheads would get the munchies and eat anything whilst telling everyone to 'chill out' or thinking we were all called 'man', I once saw a case hardened Glaswegian contractor literally knock a dopehead across the room for touching his food, then again I nearly witnessed World War 3 break out over a packet of biscuits. Anyone for afters?

Opposites attract?

I love women, I really do, I often think they are better listeners than men but from my experience on a night out they can outdrink and usually outfight most all male groups, I can only imagine what an all female flatshare/bedsit must be like, the first woman I lived in bedsit land with (actually teenage girl with attitude), we've already discussed but there were to be several more, including a feisty Irish student who manipulated every person/situation she possibly could, I found her utterly charmless and she made no secret of her contempt for me either, then there was another young schemer (I began to despair of youth at this point despite only being in my 30's myself) whose wretched existence seemed to consist of trouble causing and general nastiness, a relatively decent middle aged woman whose boyfriend (who must have been about 60) used to send her to the off licence to buy cheap cider at 8am, I felt sorry for her so let her borrow my spare TV of course she moved out and I never saw her or it again, so much for charity, a Zimbabwean woman who dressed in the most bizarre clothes ever and once informed me that we should 'stand together' and complain to the landlord, strangely the only complaining she ever did was abouut the other tenants, it didn't stop her making a ham fisted attempt at seducing me though! Finally there was another teenager, nice girl but seriously troubled, dressed in dark clothes, listened to goth music and saw the negative in everything, still it seemed a bit hypocritical asking her to cheer up living in such surroundings.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Soft Touch.

One landlord was, he tolerated people not paying their rent for 3 months, a 5 am drug raid where the front door was literally battered down by riot cops, endless smashed windows and even a pet snake and rat running around the house he was paying a mortgage for, still his wife always seemed to dress well while he worked 24/7.

Beyond Evil.

In one bedsit, a new guy moved in, he seemed OK, recently split up with his girlfriend, mid 30's. liked a drink, missed his kids, chatted to me about football, after a while he moved out and life carried on, I bumped into him in the street one afternoon, I was coming out of the chip shop, he was living in a flat nearby, we had a bit of a chat and went our seperate ways.
3 am, that same day, we had 2 Police officers knocking on our door, someone else answered, I was annoyed at being disturbed but  Police visits to bedsits go with the territory, it can be anything from a drug raid, a skipped bail enquiry or on one occasion a visit from a WPC who called round to inform a tenant his father had died, I was used to them by now.
I went back to bed, woke up a bit later, went to work and went about my day, later I found out on the local news that the person who had lived in the next room to me couldn't handle his girlfriend wanting to end the relationship, that he had repeatedly used her as a human punchbag and flipped when she met a new boyfriend, he went round to her home, killed her and 2 of their children, after doing so he put his youngest child in the car drove to a local landmark, left this innocent little child in the car and jumped to his death, by this time I had seen so much of human nature that nothing failed to surprise me, it was without doubt an act of evil but only years later did it actually sink in, I had become immune to feelings.

Monday 30 November 2009

Chinese water torture.

So, I came home one day, apart from the massive hole in the ceiling and the wet carpet, I wasn't really concerened, after all the landlord was only next door, he staggered the short distance, surveyed the damage and came up with the perfect solution for the December rain attacking the hole in his property, a plastic bucket to catch the drips, perefect solution, only it took him 4 days to get a 'workman', meanwhile I had to sleep with a constant.....thud, thud, thud, thud and not try to lose my mind, eventually the damage was repaired, somenone turned up  and did a bit of artexing, covered the yellowy white celing with some chocolate coloured paint and that was that, just spend 4 days listening to a constant tap, tap, tap in a freezing cold bedsit and tell me that after much more of this you wouldn't open up to anyone who had you in captivity!

During the war.

I only ever lived in one 'bed and breakfast', the live in owner was a old woman who came across as a rancourous old witch, the 'lodgers' were expected to eat breakfast then disappear until bedtime, she didn't like us to do any washing and reluctantly allowed us to have showers, our living space was segregated by a locked door, at least there was a TV with sky news, breakfast was left in the kitchen for us, usually a tray of eggs, a loaf of bread and a bowl of cereal, she would frequently interrupt us at all times and regale us with stories about when she was some kind of dancer in WW2 before virtually telling us to get out of her house, I knew my days were numbered when she caught me using the washing machine, I had several replica football shirts of differing colours/teams in her warped imagination I was 'washing a pub teams gear', needless to say I was on the move shortly afterwards.

Holes in the walls

At the dosshouse, things reached an all time low when some of the more doped up tenants/visitors thought it would be amusing to fire a ball bearing gun at the living room wall, one of them stuck to drink one night but when he came home and attempted to go to the toilet he missed, however he managed to 'go' everywhere else, the bath, the shower curtain, the sink and even the bathroom walls, another later tenant would get drunk on vodka at 8am, fall asleep and soak his trousers and settee, it was interesting time, especially when one of the inmates decided to punch a hole through a window, cutting his wrist into the bargain and leaving a trail of blood everywhere, he declined hospital treatment, instead he just wrapped a tea towel around his severed wrist and kept it there for the next six hours or so.

Friday 27 November 2009

They're watching me!

I remember an old song that went something like 'I got the feeling, somebody's watching me' so when someone moved in who actually believed this I learned to tread carefully, his entire persona just sent out the wrong vibes, apart from constant mood swings and a monotone voice not to mention, the most penetrating stare ever, anyway this space cadet actually believed the authorities were monitoring him via fibre optic cables, to throw them off the scent he would sleep downstairs or put black tape over cracks in the doors or windows, one night I came home and he had taken the lights out believing that he could feel static electricity, given his lack of personal hygiene it was more likely to be scabies, things took a turn for the worse when he was sat on a table with his head in his hands, attempts from various people at reasoning him were met with indifference, we tried explaining that when we came home after a few drinks and he was sleeping on the floor or taking lights out causing us to fall over him, he was putting not only us but himself in danger but to him there were greater risks, his entire security was being compromised and he needed to tell the world that the powers that be were watching us, the men in white coats would have had a field day, we just accepted his 'eccentricity' with raised eyebrows, after all, the landlord informed he was 'harmless', I wasn't entirely convinced myself.

Thursday 26 November 2009

A few white lies.

Our old friend Kev once tried to convince me that he wrote 'Is Vic there?' the 1980 hit by Department S (whatever happened to them?), he went on to say someone else took the credit and his life took a downward turn from that point, I suppose he was harmless compared to the dreamer who boasted about his service in the Parachute Regiment during the Falklands campaign, I was 14 when that conflict took place and seeing as though he was 2 years younger than me, it seemed unlikely! I have the kind of face that attracts these people.

Rattus Norvegicus.

Druggies are a bit like brown rats, you're never far away from one, one place became a doss house where the local underclass just invited themselves round, at the time I was seeing a girl so anything I had of any value was left at her house, it was a bit much coming home to find we had run out of spoons yet again and even I realised I was maybe getting instutionalised when I came home one day and saw some emaciated stranger casually inhaling what I presume was crack through a beer can as though it was the most natural thing in the world.

The Drugs don't work.

Neither do a lot of people who take them, these people have given up on life and can't see beyond the next few hours. I was used to just about anything happening so one day when a young (unemployed) person who was living in the room next to, above or below me (it gets confusing) had a 'mate' round simply because he 'had some drugs' experience told me they would use up whatever supply they had, his drug friend would either stagger home at some point or fall asleep on the settee and disappear, he did but it took him about three weeks, in the meantime he proceeded to squat in a bedsit, not bother to change his clothes or get washed but somehow manage to get hold of drugs, in the meantime he met a girl who was about half his age and came across as decent, intelligent and she had some ambition, I met her by chance in the street some time after and she told me she lost all reason, had no idea what came over her and couldn't explain what the hell she was thinking of getting involved with such a loser, he couldn't work out why a drug taking squatter wasn't very attractive in the long run to a teenager, ironically enough I also saw him in the street recently, he looked painfully thin, his face was etched with hatred and the effect was quite remarkable, his eyes showed no trace whatsoever of humanity or compassion, I guess he has given up on life.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Rock Bottom.

After a while of living this life, you lose your dignity, you just don't care anymore, one 'house' had worn out carpets, an unusable twin tub washing machine which necessitated regular trips to the launderette, a fridge that leaked, a kitchen that attracted slugs and snails, heating that was 'powered' by pre decimal 50p pieces which you had to buy from the landlord, windows that froze on the inside and just a smell of desperation, I have lived with worse people but never in worse conditions, this was as bad at it got or so it seemed, amazingly it got worse!

Every Breath you take.

There was once a TV sitcom called 'Rising Damp', many bedsits are damp, it is unpleasant, unhygienic and not good for your health so when I reported the ever rising damp problem in my bedroom to my landlady (the one who insisted on having a meter on the shower), I was expecting her to reluctantly acknowledge the situation and do something about it, her response was that it was caused by me 'breathing' which left me temporarily speechless, nothing ever did get done and I continued breathing.

After the divorce courts.....

A lot of divorced people end up in bedsits, usually they are quite bitter, I think I would be if I had gone from living in a nice house with a family to dossing about in a bedsit, one such guy lived with me, a young girl who had false front teeth (the gap between her ears was even bigger) and had quite an active 'love life', including one memorable night when she entertained someone she met in a nightclub, kept us awake with her moaning and groaning despite earlier informing us she was 'on her period' and was going to be a 'good girl' and dragged the once white bedsits to the washing machine at 5 am as I was setting off for work, I didn't feel like breakfast that day, another Young lad who seemed quite reasonable and some loner we referred to as 'Guru' (don't ask me why), this divorced guy used to have his kids round on a Sunday, he seemed ashamed of them seeing the squalor he was living in and they looked embarrassed, the whole thing was a bit sad really, I was to meet many more like this along the way.

Let's do some drugs.

No, not me, my drug of choice is beer, I like a nice cold lager but I must be the only person in the world who has been evicted from a bedsit for not taking drugs! The official explanation was that I 'didn't fit in', the truth was more like a live in landlord who by the way was terrified of his mother worked out how much money he had coming in, what drugs (usually amphetamine,whizz, billy or speed to you and me), he had and than proceeded to spend his money on this crap, and when mummy came round to ask why the mortgage hadn't been paid, I got kicked out at short notice he could only offer me a muttering apology, I was reading a book at the time and was told I had done 'nothing wrong', but I knew the truth, he wanted to do drugs, run away from his mother and cling on to dear life, all very commendable, mind you he was 40, jaded and dabbling in God knows what substances, his 'girlfriend' was about 18, obnoxious and like a vulture wanted to prey on him, I was a danger and had to be dealt with, I just didn't fit in. The house was within walking distance of the local football ground and the fish 'n' chips at the local outlets weren't bad either but that's life!

Tuesday 24 November 2009

The Full Monty.

My next port of call was actually quite a humorous episode, I shared with a Korean war veteran who used to drink cider every day and once tried to sell me a pair of shoes about 4 sizes too small, an Illegal Jordanian immigrant who turned out to be a really nice guy, very intelligent and at least he worked unlike many of our own parasites including John the stripper, The first thing I noticed about John was his dress sense, he had none! Jumpers that were about 30 years out of date, tracksuit bottoms that looked like he had slept in them and slip on shoes, his look was topped off by a mullet hair cut, a fake tan and a Jason King style moustache, amazingly he worked cash in hand as a stripper, the house itself was OK but in order to get a shower you had to put a 10p coin in a meter and guesstimate the temperature, length of time you got, it could be anything from 5 minutes of warm water to 30 seconds of scalding hot or maybe 2 minutes freezing cold, the electricity was on meters too, meaning I missed countless film endings or last 10 minutes of football games while I hunted around with a torch to find a coin to put in the slot, there was never a dull moment, watching John go out in his various outfits or wearing his 'best' clothes (Chino shirt complete with bootlace tie, blue corduroy trousers and of course black slip on shoes), but more of him later.

Good times, Bad Times.

There now follows a period of relative normality, I met a girl and was living in a decent house sharing with 2 guys of similar age and on a similar wavelength, it was a happy, relaxed time which only came to an end when one of the guys moved out, his mate went shortly after, leaving me and my then girlfriend, we were OK, paid the bills, looked after the house etc but the homeowner decided to put the house on the market, we were given first refusal.....and we refused! Moving into a terraced, Victorian 'student house' put a strain on our relationship, well we broke up shortly after which put me on a downer, which was worsened by the frequent student 'parties', especially when one of them took a LSD tab and was convinced he had 'discovered' things, pity he didn't discover soap and water, I discovered the way out.

And now for the weather.

I liked Tom (name changed slightly), nice old boy, he had lived in Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe for many years, had a good time, spent all his money and didn't care about the future, one day a doctor told him that another African winter would be too much, by this point, Tom was well into his 70's, no children and no money, so rather than bake to death he caught a one way ticket 'home'. Home turned out to be a bedsit where he virtually died before our very eyes, his life consisted of slow, shuffling movements, speeches where he seemingly had to fight for breath, a trip to the local off licence to buy his bottle of wine and a quick review of his life contained in a biscuit tin, I liked him, Kev used to toy with him and he was just an harmless, lonely old man, he didn't die through heat, he froze to death in a bedsit, nobody really noticed, his family appeared at the funeral along with maybe 10 other people, it was the most ironic death ever, file under forgotten.

My First Nutter.

I didn't meet any 'nutters' in bedsit 1, simply because nobody else moved in (I might have been living with a basket case when I spent 2 weeks by myself but I digress), when I upped sticks and moved, I met Kev (name changed slightly), I finally met one, oh and what he case he was, the landlord was a nice enough guy, we sat there and over a couple of cans of Stella, small talk about football and a bit of chit chat and I moved in, Kev was obsessed with hygiene but it didn't seem to stretch as far as his finger nails which were permanently caked in dirt, even though he avoided work like the plague, his belief that the washing machine was 'talking to him' didn't endear me to him and the clincher came when a female ex mate came round one saturday night ( I was out, one thing about bedsits is that you get out as often as possible) so she made a point of arranging to call back in the week, meanwhile Kev fell in love and misinterpreted everything, come the day I arrived home from work and Kev had blown his giro on flowers, written a poem, bought a teddy bear, moved the Argos Hi Fi to the centre of the table, put what sounded like an outtake from 'Oxygene' or some forgotten Vangelis album on at full volume (who said romance is dead), laid out a tacky supermarket bought Indian meal on the table with the obligatory cheap bottle of wine and tried his best, it didn't work, his 'date' stormed out and I had to pick up the pieces, the poor guy actually dressed in......I KID YOU NOT, a Surplus British rail shirt, sleeveless British Rail jumper, sensible black trousers and shoes that looked like something out of a school playground circa 1980, Kev, who had spent all his giro and wasted it got angry when the poor girl informed him that she had come to see me, then asked me if he was mad, I was beginning to doubt my own sanity at this point before storming off, I did consider rocking the table, pushing a buffet trolley around, holding up placards and speaking through a tannoy but it was a tragic incident and I didn't want to labour the point, a few hours later, Kev informed me that he got excited when he didn't take his medication, so that's me told!

My Favourite people.

The landlords....who else? My first ever bedsit landlord was a GP, he made a point of appearing in the local paper every time a charity photo shoot cropped up, did 'business' in his surgery between patients appointments and when I moved out of his hovel, it's getting ironic now, the place was a potential breeding ground for God knows what diseases and the person renting it out was a doctor, was he after business or something? I did progress to a 'self made' couple who at least kept their houses in a reasonable (for bedsit land) condition and another 'self made', (this means having a car on credit, a house out of town and membership of a golf or tennis club) working class hero who informed me that one of the other tennants was 'A bit of a nutter but harmless', slowly I started to see the link between money and greed and moved into a relatively decent place where the landlord used to plead poverty while having a new car every year, going on holiday to places I only know from the Sunday Supplements and having 'clothes parties' where basically anything they had worn once was considered untouchable, I met one landlord with a tolerance to 'certain drugs', every time he got his rent, he fell further behind with his mortgage by measuring out amphetamine on the kitchen table, next up. a middle class part of town, a nice house, so far so good, a landlady who didn't like me and didn't like the council to know who was living in her house was followed by my first ever 'Rachman' experience and then 'Mr Soft' but more of this later.

Suitable tennants only.

If you're ever unfortunate enough to have to move into a bedsit you may hear variations on this phrase, most private landlords will generally abide by the law and carry out repairs or essential maintainence work, ask nicely and they will even put up a certificate stating how many people should be living in the property at any given time, if you're very lucky, your landlord may even carry out inspections or even evict 'unsuitable' tennants but that's jumping the gun a bit.
Repairs WILL be carried out but in many cases the properties are in such a state of disrepair that a complete revamp is the only solution, most bedsit landlords have a 'handyman' in my experience usually a sour faced, unapproachable person in his 50's or 60's more often than not dressed in blue overalls and to be quite blunt, the kind of 'workman' you would only use if you couldn't afford anyone else or if you were a landlord who cared more about money than people, the term 'suitable tennant' roughly translates as someone who pays the rent, or has it paid by the social, most bedsits, in fact quite a large proportion have people on some form of benefits,( the 'no DSS' rule is often overlooked), a 'suitable tennant' doesn't complain too much and will put up with living standards that most people would consider subhuman.

Monday 23 November 2009

A brief introduction

All of the stories I will relate in the blog are true, some names may be changed and certain places will be left to your imagination, every event actually happened however far fetched or unbelieveable it may seem, to set the scene, I hit my personal rock bottom several years ago and was reduced to living in bedsits/shared houses, some not too bad, some absolutely horrendous, along the way I met many people ranging from contractors who just wanted somewhere cheap to live, people who were down on their luck, people who basically didn't want to help themselves and a few that were definetly a few screws loose, there are many stories, some tragic, some funny and some just pointing out how mundane and at times desperate this lifestyle is, over the next few weeks or months I will try to remember (and believe me there are a few experiences I don't really want to recall but it's a 'warts and all' account). I hope you enjoy reading it and spare a thought for the many people who for whatever reason are still living this life.