Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

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Word of the day: Kapooey – Badly wrong

Weather: soggy

Mood: also soggy

When I arrived this morning I gave the usual cheery good morning to Mike, he growled, which is not like him at all.

‘S’up?’ I asked.

‘What’s up? What’s up? They’ve ruined my fucking lawn, haven’t they? Ruined it!’

It’s seven thirty in the morning, I’m not ready for this yet.

‘Hmm? Who have?’ I say, keeping it vague.

‘Those fucking guys who laid the path! Look!’ he pointed out the window. ‘Looks like they were doing wheelies last night!’

I couldn’t see much out of the window, so with Mateo I went and had a look. Using our cunning detective skills we worked out that, whatever vehicle it was, the driver had tried to turn around on the gravel, somehow missed and landed on the grass. Then panicked and spun round backwards in a large circle, sunk into the soft muddy grass, revved the engine to get out, churning big holes as they went, before finally driving off leaving gullies. It was pretty spectacular really, and I had to feel sorry for the poor bugger. Especially when my manager started ranting that he’d get the driver fired. And this was after not finishing the path yesterday. Luckily managers at my place go more for bark than bite, so I expect the trouble will fizz out before anyone gets in real trouble.

You had one job!

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Word of the day: Bodewash – cow dung, bodge, piece of poor or clumsy workmanship

Weather: yep, there was some

Mood: yep, I had some

My title is kind of unfair, since it’s about the contractors my managers got in to lay a path, and it actually looked pretty complicated, but if the meme fits…

Over the last two weeks the builders brought about ten vehicles in, from diggers to tractors to trailers to some kind of Transformer-in-disguise. Today they arrived with a huge truck filled with grit that couldn’t fit through our gates (fascinating to watch them try for twenty minutes though) and a huge bucket on wheels that carried the grit from the huge truck to the path, and a machine that spread it, then one that flattened and rolled it. And there were ten guys who spread it out and tamped it down. The operation took all day, and was hugely impressive. We got to watch an hour of it over lunch, always enjoyable to watch other people working while you eat your sandwiches. Especially if they keep stopping to argue like these guys did. We couldn’t hear what they were saying, but there was pointing and one guy threw his rake down.

On a couple occasions Mateo wandered over to tell them they were doing it all wrong, but he chickened out at the last minute. It was a shame to go back to work, to our more familiar machines.

When we returned to base at the end of the day, we saw the path, beautifully laid, flat, sparkly black. Stretching all the way from the managers’ office through the trees to the other managers’ office. Except for the two-foot-wide gap where there wasn’t enough grit to reach the gate, apparently the huge grit truck wasn’t huge enough.

They were all booked up with other work after today, so we’re not sure if they’re coming back.  We’re told they left in quite a hurry, taking their many vehicles with them.

How to be happy?

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Nothing’s happened for me to write about today, things are calm and quiet, but I have had one thought on what it takes to be happy:

I don’t believe there’s a universal secret to happiness, we’re too varied, one person’s blissful life is another’s miserable cage. So there is no rule book or map to follow, you just have to use trial and error to work out what’s right for you. Experiment, explore, ask questions. And then, when you’ve found the life that gives you peace and meaning, you have to develop the strength of mind to ignore all the people telling you you’re wrong about it.

Hopefully tomorrow there’ll be the usual ridiculousness to write about, I’m not much of a philosopher.

The image is a face sculpted in sand taken next to the Thames.

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.

 

 

D’oh!

ride on

Weather: pretty good

Mood: not bad

Word of the day: Bufflehead – a duck, an idiot (I feel this is rude to ducks)

I was out on the ride-on mowing the lawn again. I think I said before how much I love that, whizzing about making lovely straight lines (straightish, anyway). When I’d finished I had to clean out the mower, that means getting a blower out to clean off the grass, putting the huge bucket at the back up into the air to clean inside it. So I blew away all the grass and left it all sparkly and new in its cheery green and drove it into the shed.

The shed is only just larger than the mower, so you have to edge in around shelves full of junk and step ladders. But once I’d got the front end in, it stalled. I’ve not known it stall before. I started the engine again, there was a grinding noise, and I stalled again. I started to panic, tried one more time, it felt like I was stuck. Something beneath the wheels maybe? So I got out, walked out of the shed and realised the huge bucket was still up and had been in the process of ripping the roof off the shed. It hadn’t succeeded though, and no one had seen. So I put the bucket down and drove in, then crept away. All fine. There will be a point I get caught fucking up.

I also chickened out of calling the landlady today, and then hid and ate popcorn in my room, so I didn’t have to face the others. Still not sure how to play this.

I’m finding out! …Oh.

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Finally we find out who’s been invading our rooms and leaving dog hairs, sweetie wrappers and moving my ketchup.

Word of the day: Heuristic – helping to discover by trial and error

So it was tense when me, Jinjing, Hamoudi and Neville sat down beneath the watchful eyes of the cat picture. Did I only imagine that those eyes followed us as we sat down? Yes, I did, but it would have happened if this was a horror movie. I tried to keep things light, but Neville looked shrivelled and wary, Jinjing was cool and sharp and Hamoudi was a big innocent bear, as always. I suspect I looked like I’d wandered in by accident, that’s kind of my thing.

Jinjing started by saying we all had to remain calm and honest and work out a resolution, fair enough. Then I shared my news about the perfume wafting around the flat when I got home.

‘Isn’t that just the landlady though?’ said Neville. ‘She always makes the place smell.’

‘What?’ we all said. Because of course we know the landlady, we each met her before we moved in, but she shouldn’t be in the house, not without us knowing, not without 24 hours notice. And here is Neville talking like it’s a common occurrence we should all be aware of.

‘What do you mean always?’ asked Jinjing.

‘She comes round quite often in the afternoons,’ said Neville. ‘I guess it’s when you’re all at work.’

‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ said Jinjing, she was getting shrill, which summed up how I felt.

‘Does she have a dog?’ I asked.

‘She had a dog when I had my interview,’ said Hamoudi.

‘Does she eat sweets?’ I asked.

‘Does it matter?’ said Jinjing.

‘Well, yes, because she if she eats sweets, she’s been in my room. And if she’s been in my room, then she’s the one who broke my laptop. In which case,’ my turn to get shrill now, ‘I want some bloody money for it.’

‘Why didn’t you tell us that she’s been coming in the house?’ repeated Jinjing to Neville, I think she wanted to continue blaming him for something.

‘I assumed you knew,’ he said.

After that there was some general annoyance and tetchiness. The only thing we could agree on was that one of us needed to tell the landlady to stop turning up when we were at work, but that none of us actually wanted to do it. Stalemate. We left it at that.

So, aliens, Illuminati and sleepwalking are out, and a small middle-aged lady with a bad perm and a yappy dog is in. My life just got 43% more dull.

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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So I got back and I found…

 

 

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Picture from my trip away

Today I returned to London from my three day escape, feeling much calmer, if totally knackered. I was nervous about what I’d find at the flat. Would Jinjing and Neville still be fighting? Would the walls be splattered with blood?

Actually, they were all at work, as normal. However, what I noticed on opening the door was the smell. Sickly perfume. The kind that station toilets leak into the world. Then I noticed the Quality Street sweet wrapper on the kitchen floor – of course, that’s a communal space, so Neville is free to eat chocolates there. Then I went in the lounge, and did a double take to see these eyes staring at me from the wall:

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Where in merry Hell did that come from? It’s like something my nan would buy, surely not Neville, Jinjing or Hamoudi. It this some kind of home decoration housebreaker? I’m too exhausted to work this out now, I’m going to bed.

 

I think I know where the ketchup went…

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You know when you’re away from a situation and suddenly a detail comes back to you? It’s like your head has emptied out of all the daily mess and that one detail is sitting there alone and obvious. Well, now I’m away from home, I’ve realised something.

(To anyone who’s not been following this drama, my flatmate Jinjing thinks our flatmate Neville has been sneaking into our rooms for unfathomable reasons – not stealing anything of value, but with definite signs left).

One of the clues that someone had been in my room was that my ketchup went missing. But today I remembered there was some ketchup in the fridge when i left. I assumed it belonged to someone else, but thinking about it I  don’t remember anyone else ever using ketchup. It was a squeezy bottle, half full like mine was. I think maybe it was MY bottle.

Which means someone took the ketchup bottle from my room and put it in the fridge. Which CAN’T be Neville, because he never puts anything in the fridge, not even bacon. Does that even make sense? Or is the clarity in my head just a new type of nonsense?

And if I’m right who moved my ketchup? And why?