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The Elephant in the Room

  Thu 11th December 2014

The Christmas mood is upon Lancaster, everyone giving up any pretence; drinking a great deal, even by English standards. Here, it's not being able to pay my rent, and dealing with this by having another pint.

Down the pub I sat at a table I thought was unoccupied, until a large twentysomething man and his Dad came and sat down at it. I vaguely know the father from the railway, and latterly, boozing.

I told them my Dad had died recently in Middlesbrough and he told me about a recent job he did up there. "I got this phone call and he said 'I don't want any fuck ups on this'." "So I said 'No, no, there won't be any fuck ups'." "No but seriously, this is Network Rail you're working for on Saturday." "Network Rail? I haven't worked for Network Rail before. Have you got a contact number for someone?"

"And he said 'What do you mean? Just dial C-U-N-T on your phone and you'll have his fucking number'. And then he slammed the phone down. How the fuck do you respond to that?"

I then got talking to the couple sat behind me, who were an Anglo-Irish couple straight out of Father Ted, arguing bitterly in between buying each other drinks. They reminded me of the kind of resentful co-dependence towards which Trina and I were heading. He told me some useful information about applying for council housing, and how he got housed in a couple of months by "bidding" (that means "expressing an interest in") on an unpopular property. We talked at some length about this, which was of great interest.

My current situation is untenable -- in every sense of that word. I'm fed up interviewing new tenants all the time, in which I have to apologise for the bathroom. I constantly worry about the bills, which I can't meet unless I live like I did when I lived here alone, in which the heating goes on for fewer than ten days a year, and when it gets chilly I sit in a Santa hat, a scarf, and a blanky. I don't like living in a mainly Muslim street, women in niqabs shunning you, and men who use politeness as a distancing technique. I don't like occupying simultaneously the positions of a rentier and a tenant, almost feeling that I have to tug my forelock in gratitude when I see my landlord and landlady; and over us all the time, his unspoken knowledge of the affair I had with his girlfriend, Seriouscrush.

I've got to tell them that I can't pay the rent this month -- or not in full anyway. But I'm also going to tell them that in the medium term, I will be relinquishing my occupancy of 44 Acacia Avenue -- which might be a bargaining position. The rent is good, but the house is a crock: cold, no shower, just one of those bendy tube efforts to wash yourself with, a gappy, cheap MDF kitchen with dirty woodchip wallpaper hanging open from cracks in the plaster; single-glazed windows, one of which I have to tell tenants not to touch, as the glass comes away from the frame if you open it. It'll be a long wait for council housing round here, but in the meantime, it might be a way of negotiating Seriouscrush down a hundred or so.

In the short term though, there's a Scouser coming round to have a look at the hovel in half an hour. I just hope he's desperate enough to enter into another form of co-dependence.


Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

I hope you find some solution soon mate…

Fri 12th December 2014 @ 20:12
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks, it’ll be right.

Fri 12th December 2014 @ 20:58
Comment from: [Member]

i’m taking a page from your november book and going dry for the month of january. partly to assure myself that i can, but mostly because the month of december is just endless, isn’t it?

hoping that the quest for council housing goes well, and that it buys you some time with your current landlord and lady…

Thu 18th December 2014 @ 03:54
Comment from: [Member]

Thank you – yes, it’s always reassuring that one isn’t in fact, an out and out alky :) Good luck and let us know it goes.

Thu 18th December 2014 @ 07:53

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