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.