Air rescue!

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We were sitting on lunch today, Mike was catching me up on Love Island (I don’t watch it, but his descriptions are always funny) when we heard a huge wap-wap-wap sound, and a load of leaves blew in as if they were trying to escape from something.

‘It’s a helicopter!’ shouted Mateo. So we all ran out to the lawn where an ambulance helicopter was landing.

We gave it some space, figuring they had bigger things to worry about than curious gardeners, but then the managers ran out of the office and across the grass shouting ‘You don’t have a permit to park there!’

Moments later there were police banging at our front gate demanding to be let in, they all ran past in a group like the keystone cops. After a few moments they worked out that the injured person was somewhere else and all ran back out again, shouting ‘Sorry!’ as they went.

Apparently there was an accident on the road outside and traffic in London is so intense that they couldn’t get an ambulance through, so they parked in our park.

Anyway, the managers might have been unhappy, but we thought it was great, the wind from the blades cleared the last of the winter leaves from under the trees. Hopefully they got the injured person to hospital on time too (we always try to find out the outcome of accidents and emergency dramas, but never succeed.)

Otherwise a fairly routine day, drove around a bit, tried to fend off residents asking me impossible questions, had some ridiculous conversations with colleagues, dug up some weeds. How was your day?

Dicing with white death (spider)

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On candy stripe legs the Spiderman comes
Softly through the shadow of the evening sun

The Cure  – Lullaby

Word of the day: Hebenon – anything with poisonous juices

I found this attractive chap while I was weeding today. He didn’t like me shoving my phone in his face, so he reared his front legs up, I could almost hear the angry chatter of spider teeth.

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When a cockroach sheds its skin, its soft new hide is white until it darkens to red. I thought maybe it was the same with spiders, which also shed their skin. But no! This is actually a white spider. So there were two possibilities.

A white widow – deadly like the black widow, though sort of unlikely to be in this country.

A white death crab spider – It has venom, but its teeth aren’t strong enough to pierce human skin.

I was leaning strongly towards the white widow, but the actual evidence swung the other way. Still beautiful though, even if he couldn’t kill me.

Other events:

Barry the barrowman jumped out in front of me and started dancing around singing Singing in the Rain. I said a polite hello and carried on walking. It felt wrong to do that, but he’s not a good person and I’m not going to humour him anymore.

Back at base, Mike was ranting about bumble wasps, and how a million of them had taken over the tractor.

‘Look! Just look, they’ll attack! Millions of ’em.’

‘There aren’t any there, Mike,’ I explained.

‘Look!’ he shrieked and ran out into the rain as one solitary bumble bee drifted out of the ground.

A Trundling Sunday

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It passed the time, but the time would have passed anyway

Word of the day: Cacoethes – insatiable desire or mania; bad habit

The odd incident at the house up the road has now been cleaned up, the rubble is gone, a nice new fence is where the old one got knocked down. But now a different car has a window that’s been smashed through, a side window this time. I shall be keeping an eye on that house, I suspect the drama isn’t over.

And the drum kit is gone. After a day of Hamoudi’s ‘Explorations in rhythm’ and ‘riding the beat to the dark side’, Jinjing phoned up the landlady threatening to set fire to the bass drum and throw the cymbal into a tree like a frisbee if she didn’t come and pick it up.

It may be too late though, I was just sitting with Hamoudi in the kitchen and he was playing his new solo on the table with some wooden spoons.

This is why going out is a bad idea

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‘Until all that’s left is the pounding of a solitary drum.’

And Now This, The End of Time

Word of the day: Carphology – fitful plucking movements as in delirium

I used to be able to watch the trees blowing in the wind from my window, but this weekend there are only stumps, so I went out to the park to see the trees shimmying around. A strong warm wind is always so melodramatic. While I was out I got a text from the landlady, a little passive aggression followed by more proof she sees our flat as her storage facility.

I thought you’d be in today. You usually r on a Sat. I didn’t have my key. I don’t have time to run around. Be careful of drum kit in hall, we’ll pick up later. Julie x.

Seriously? A drum kit? Got home to find Hamoudi happy as a crab in a bucket of snails, he had discovered the drum kit and was composing a drum solo.

‘I’ve watched a few videos and I think I’ve got the hang of them. Maybe I’ll join a band,’ he said battering the cymbal.

‘Have you played the drums before?’ I shouted.

‘No, but it’s fairly straightforward. It’s all about keeping time, you see?’ he said earnestly, taking a pause, and I nodded. So far he’s got the eyebrows and enthusiasm of animal from the muppets, all he needs now is the rhythm and he will go far.

Note: that may be the first time in my life I spelt rhythm correctly without help, the curse is finally lifted!

Back to the landlady drama

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The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!

Lewis Carroll

Word of the day: Barbastelle – a hairy lipped bat

For anyone not keeping track of all my nonsense, myself and my three flatmates recently discovered that the landlady, Julie, has been paying us little visits while we were out.

Having made it clear with our rental contract that we can’t stop her, she’s started popping round every few evenings and using our flat like some kind of storage facility. So far we’ve acquired a broken toaster, a vacuum cleaner that smokes when you turn it on, a bag of plastic spoons and two packs of doilies. Then this evening, Jinjing and Hamoudi were in the kitchen making falafel and I was hanging about hoping to either get some leftovers or summon up the energy to go and get popcorn, when  Julie showed up again. She poked her head round the door and said,

‘Ohhh, are you having a party? Alright for some.’ Then went back out into the hall. Hamoudi  watched her through the slightly open door, and gave whispered updates to us as to what Julie was doing. Apparently she was checking the paintwork, looking in the toilet and then she took a pile of notebooks out of her back and put them up in the cupboard in the hallway. Thoughtfully she took out Hamoudi’s bicycle pump and my spare towel first, before adding the notebooks and putting a padlock on the cupboard. Then she left. Hamoudi has spent the evening in the hall with a paperclip and YouTube trying to work out how to pick the lock.

‘I just want to know what’s in those notebooks. I’ll bet it’s all information she’s collected about us.’

‘Why would she keep it here then?’

Hamoudi looked at me with ferocious wide-eyes, a man pushed to the edge, I’m not sure what by.

‘To taunt us!’ he said.

P.I. Inkbiotic Investigates

 

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‘Inch by inch, the world fell apart.’ Empty Poems of the Sun – Hector Banlet

Today me and Mike were loading up the van with a few shrubs we’d cut down, when a man came rushing over all excited.

‘I don’t mean to be rude, but can I have them? I’m getting married on Saturday and they’d look great in the hall, they’re so beautiful!’

We tried to explain about greenfly and viburnum beetle, but he was too happy to listen and we were only going to throw them away, so of course we said yes. Mike tried to charge the guy a fiver, but I gave him a stern look. The groom-to-be kept thanking us, and we congratulated him (actually I said ‘Have a good wedding’ because I have no idea what the etiquette for weddings is).

Five minutes later he returned saying,

‘I’m so sorry, I have to give them back, my van is full of flies now!’

So our kind deed failed, and Mike didn’t even get his fiver.

This afternoon I went to check out the accident down my street, as promised. I had to walk up and down the road looking casual until everyone had gone, and then got a few photos.

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Inspecting closer, I noticed there’s slight skid marks leading towards the smashed up fence. It looks as if someone skidded off the road and drove through the fence, then drove across the garden and out the wall a bit further on. Pausing only to smash out the back windows of two cars. But surely it would take a truck to drive through a wall? Was it a truck? The cars now have bin liners over the window.

Any ideas? I asked what people thought at work and got the following suggestions:

  • A hate crime.
  • A revenge attack.
  • A police raid, where some kind of evidence/ drugs were thought to be in one of the cars.
  • Somebody really drunk got confused where the road was, drove into the garden. They felt very guilty and wanted to write a note to say sorry, but they didn’t have a a pen, so they smashed the rear window of one car, looking for one, but no pen.  Then they smashed the back window of the other car, but no pen. They were then so frustrated by the uselessness of the garden owner, that they drove out in a rage, not noticing that they had made a new path through the wall.

 

Something odd has happened in my street

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‘We broke open the grime and found the shiny. The coin, the chrome, the glint of the sun.’

Empty Poems of the Sun – Hector Banlet

 

Word of the day: smegmatic – like soap; cleansing (if, like me, you love Red Dwarf, this is an unexpected meaning of smegma)

So today Mike visited our messroom-to-be. He said it is too clean and the toilets are small and flimsy. Our boss is excited about it, buying new cutlery and crockery (what we use at the moment is whatever we’ve found in the gardens and cleaned up) and raving about the lack of spiders.

Then when I got home, I went up the road to buy milk, and noticed some POLICE DO NOT CROSS tape fluttering in the wind, attached to a fence. As I got closer, I realised that a large, two-panel section of the fence had been smashed through and the tape had covered this. Further along there was another gap, filled with rubble, and further still, two cars sitting in the drive way with both their back windows smashed out. Anyone have any ideas what could have happened? I assume a car smashed through the fence, but could a car drive through a wall too? And what happened to the two cars? Was it a robbery?

I’ll try to get a photo and a better look tomorrow. Today there were too many people hanging about and I didn’t want to seem nosy.

Turns out Judge Judy hasn’t taught us the law at all

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The landlady, Julie, turned up this morning, she brought her dog and a box of Cherry Bakewells and wore shoes she couldn’t properly walk in. We thought we were ready, we were not.

Weather: I’ve not been paying attention

Mood: ditto

Word of the day: Grimgribber – learned gibberish; legal jargon

After dispensing tea, some awkward politeness and staring, Jinjing launched in with our complaint, after all this has been building up for weeks.

‘We rent this flat, it’s ours, you can’t just come round when you feel like it,’ she said.

‘Have you looked at the contract?’ said Julie, and took a good long slurp from her cup. I wasn’t sure about that slurp, it seemed awfully confident for someone who’s been breaking the law.

‘Legally, you can’t come in without twenty four hours’ notice,’ said Jinjing, who’s been watching a lot of Judge Judy recently.

Julie pulled out a copy of the contract, licked her finger, turned the pages, then laid it on the coffee table, smoothing it out as she did so. She pointed at one paragraph with a red nail, and I wonder if she painted her nails for just that purpose.

We crowded around and read, we looked at each other, we looked at her, we looked at each other again, and then I said,

‘What does that mean?’ Really there is no need for contracts to be written in such weird language.

‘You don’t rent the flat,’ she said, ‘you each rent a room. You may use the facilities, but they aren’t in your rented space.’ She tried to stop herself from smiling and failed. ‘The flat is mine. I can visit it whenever I want,’ she finished with a small chuckle.

‘Oh bugger,’ I said. I was deflated. Jinjing wasn’t going down without a scrap.

‘But you still can’t come in our rooms, we do rent them. You need to give us notice, you can’t just come in.’

The landlady’s mouth snapped so tight shut that her painted red lips disappeared.

‘Fine,’ she says, ‘if that’s the way you want it. I was hoping we could be friends, but if you don’t want that…’

‘And you broke my laptop!’ I suddenly blurted out.

‘Oh I don’t think so!’ exclaimed Julie.

I go get the laptop, bring it out and show her. She could just have denied it, but weirdly, she said.

‘That’s just a cheap one though, you’d be getting a new one soon anyway.’

‘No, I wouldn’t!’ To be fair, it is a cheap one, because that’s what I can afford. ‘And you aren’t allowed to just break my stuff!’ She sighed, puffing out her cheeks, then waved her hand at me like I was an annoying fly.

‘Ok, how about I take £200 off this month’s rent?’

So, that is more than the laptop was worth, so suddenly I was happy and said ok! Jinjing gave me a look, but I didn’t care. Two hundred quid!

The rest of the conversation was boring and awkward. She’s promised to give us warning before she visits, but is under no obligation to do so and if she needs to turn up in an emergency, she will. I suspect this means nothing will change. She has promised not to go in our rooms, and we’ll have to see what happens with that.

It’s kind of a resolution. Two hundred quid!

 

Grrrr

grr

Word of the day: hackle – pluck or spirit; to show hackle – to be willing to fight (originates circa 1860)

I used to be quite confrontational, you know? People were scared of me. Sometimes it would be useful to have that power back. I spent a good ten minutes just staring at my phone. Then half an hour straightening out my cupboard. Then ten minutes growling at myself. Then I realised I’d lost the landlady’s number and had to get it off Neville. Then, fuck it, I called her.

For anyone reading who has no clue what I’m on about, I drew the short straw [breadstick] to call the landlady and ask her why she thinks it’s ok to go into our rooms when we aren’t here.

She’s very nice, but she’s one of those people who seems able to use niceness as a tactic of war. Along with guilt. I’ll try to represent this as well as I remember…

Landlady [launching into unstoppable niceness]: Oh hello, how are you doing in your lovely new home? I got it painted freshly for you all, you know? I didn’t want you living in a hovel, and the last tenants left it in such a mess. It nearly broke me when I saw what they’d done.

Me [trying to interrupt]: Yes…well…we won’t do that…

LL: But it’s a lovely flat, isn’t it? I don’t think you could find cheaper in London.

Me: Yes, but we’re a bit concerned…somebody has been coming in our rooms, moving things around, we’re a bit worried.

LL [suddenly quite sharp and shrewd]: Well, did you leave the door unlocked? That’s very dangerous, I don’t want someone breaking in and causing damage. That makes my insurance invalid, you know?

Me [a bit sick of the softly softly]: And Neville said that you’ve been coming round while we’re at work.

LL: Hmm? I need to go in a minute, I have a hospital appointment, I’m a slave to my knees, they say I have to have an operation.

Me [sod the softly softly]: Have you been coming into our rooms?

LL: Only if I need to.

Me: Like when you moved my ketchup?

LL: Well, it should be in the fridge, I’m not sure why you put it your room. You’ll bring in ants!

Me: You shouldn’t have been in my room to know that I had ketchup in there.

LL: Oh you don’t mind me visiting my own flat, do you? The previous tenants didn’t mind.

Me: But-

LL: Well, I’ll come round at the weekend, and we can all discuss it then.

Me: Discuss what?

LL: See you then! Bye!

I was still trying to argue into my phone, but she was gone.

I have no idea how to discuss with someone so blatant about lying and manipulation.

 

 

Discussion tonight…

fella 2

Weather: bitter winds that cut through the scowling clouds.

Mood: clearly melodramatic

Word of the day: mazy – dizzy; confused; labyrinthine; convoluted

So after hiding in my room for the last two days, I thought I should face whatever music is playing, whatever trouble is brewing. I could hear somebody in the kitchen and so I steeled myself.

It was Hamoudi listening to Joan Armatrading and shimmying about the lino while  cooking soup, which is as nonthreatening as it gets. We did the usual hey-how-you-doing? and then moved onto what had happened while I was away. Well, not much. Neville went into hiding, to the extent that Hamoudi was convinced at one point he was dead.

‘Except, then I would have seen him,’ explained Hamoudi, (Hamoudi has talked about seeing dead people before, for anyone who hasn’t been following.) ‘So nothing is sorted,’ he said, and shrugged. Then I told him about the mysterious perfume smell and asked if he knew where the cat picture came from. He knew nothing.

Finally, we agreed we need to properly sit down, the four of us together, and talk it over. When Neville gets back tonight, we’ll do it. Not sure how late it will be, so I’ll probably save writing about it until tomorrow.

Anyway, this feels like a dull blog, so I’ll put up some photos from my trip.

 

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