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A surprise at 1011 110010

  Fri 25th October 2013

"Dad! I need your help!" texts my most histrionic daughter.

"I've got to learn an audition speech. Can you help me with it?" The local rep is considering her for the part of the fairy Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I go round to Kirsty and ooh-ooo like a Clanger as I walk through the door. Histrionic Daughter is giggling at the internet with her sister. But The Great British Bake-off is on and Shakespeare offers no competition to Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, for any of us. I ask if Kirsty wants "anything from the shop"--the drinker's coded way of diffusing his habit.

Melanie--my youngest, who once asked me how one becomes a tramp--starts on her homework about Of Mice and Men. She'll have trouble getting a job; she's inherited my selfishness and hedonism.

As the irritating Ruby thankfully fails to win the bake-off, Melanie storms in. From a soaked coat, she fetches out a rain-sodden "application" form for what is described as her "work experience" they all have to do early next year. How can one "apply" for something one doesn't want to do?

I suppress my laughter. "It's alright, we can dry it out, don't worry. Hang it over the fire." As we try to do so, hooking one corner under a little wooden box and the other under some letters, a corner of it falls off, weakened with wetness; I can't help laughing. "But that's my application form for a fucking job in Waterstone's," she says, with a loveable, far-sighted knowledge of the strait-jacket world of work, like a little Debord. I wrap my arms around her from behind as she kneels in front of the gas fire looking at the dismembered form. "Oh Melanie, that's such a metaphor." Why does she have to do "work experience"? Why can't she just spend the fortnight reading Steinbeck?

I was in the kitchen practicing writing the time in binary. I thought it would be useful if ever I bought a binary watch. It was 1011 / 110010 when the girl from Hanoi walked in. I was taken aback as it's the first time she's ever sought a conversation with me. She announced that she will be moving out on 1st November to live with a couple of other Vietnamese students. She says her schedule is out of sync with the rest of us and that she disturbs Ned in the room below.

Ned comes down a few minutes later to see how the bread is rising. He looks guilty and is apologetic, wrongly thinking it's his fault that I am now plunged into penury again, unable to meet my obligations. "She thinks you don't like her," I say. "Yes I know, I heard." He says that he did have to take her to task over two things. First he requested she refrain from taking forty-five minutes over a shower, drying her hair, and stomping about in the bathroom above his room at 6.30am on a Sunday morning; and he asked her to clean up after herself as she was about to leave raw chicken guts on the chopping board overnight.

It hasn't worked with her from the very start. Every time I see her, it's me that initiates conversation, which is always rebuffed with a quizzical and slightly agressive look. Cultural differences, timidity, and her self-isolation have all played a part in that. But part of it is sheer fucking rudeness.

She must be from a wealthy family to be able to afford the £19,000 p.a. that her course costs. She could afford her own flat and be an arsehole all by herself.


Rudeness crosses cultural and economic boundaries. It’s one of the slender threads that run through all humanity.

Even though it’s a terrible inconvenience, your constant parade of renters has provided entertaining content for your blog. Who’s next?

Fri 25th October 2013 @ 11:49
Comment from: [Member]

I don’t know! Desperately need someone here–quick. This is part of the trouble–I haven’t got the luxury of being able to turn people down.

Fri 25th October 2013 @ 12:17
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

Gizzards aside, she sounds like the Stormtrooper from Norwegian Wood.

Sat 26th October 2013 @ 15:04
Comment from: [Member]

I’ve not read that–I ought to. She’s just so silent–that’s what I can’t get. She’d be better off in the Travelodge.

Sat 26th October 2013 @ 20:17

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