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.

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?

Someone has been in my room (again?)

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Trouble is following me around, it’s keeping to the shadows, but it’s there, its long fingernails tapping against the walls.

Weather: sunny sunny sunny

Mood: wary

Word of the day: philodox – one who loves his own opinions; a dogmatic person

We were all out today. Jinjing and Hamoudi were out being sociable with friends, and I was wandering about enjoying my own company. When I got back to my room I found the shiny pink foil of a Quality Street chocolate sitting on the floor. I don’t have any Quality Street. It was over by my desk, a good ten feet from the door. Someone has been in my room, and eaten chocolate, and not left me any. I don’t know which of these events I’m more angry about.

When Jinjing and Hamoudi got home, I told them about the sweetie wrapper I found. Jinjing claimed to have found dog hairs on her duvet.

‘This is proof! Neville has been coming into our rooms.’

‘But Neville doesn’t have a dog,’ I said.

‘I’ll bet he does! Maybe that’s why he’s cooking up all that meat. For a dog. A secret dog.’

‘Not in the flat though.’

‘It doesn’t have to be in the flat. Maybe he keeps the dog in the shed. Or at a friend’s house. He has a dog.’

‘But that doesn’t explain why he’s coming into our rooms.’

‘Because he’s evil!’ said Jinjing. And I think she might be losing all reason in the search for a villain. Neville is annoying, but he isn’t evil, and I’m not convinced he’s coming into our rooms, what would be the point? Although I don’t understand about the missing ketchup and the quality street. Or how my laptop got broken. This is all getting very odd.

Mystery solved?

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The tube seat pattern

‘I guess, just be careful you don’t wear any negative shoes, or they might get lifted?’

Comment from A gorilla’s existential crisis

Well, it’s looking like the mystery of the black star has been solved. Although the answer itself may be a diversion, a trick to pacify us. Claims of Illuminati, black holes and aliens are still under consideration.

Weather: blazing!

Mood: chirpy

Word of the day: Hypogeal – underground

So the black star update:

The gorilla blogger, Matt Johnson (unusual name for a gorilla) did some searching around and came up with a theory to explain the star (for anyone who missed the beginning of this, there are stars on the ceiling of tube trains in London and NOBODY else appeared to have noticed them or knew what they were).

The website he linked to had this comment, which I didn’t read properly at the time.

And look out for the little star on the ceiling, that indicates the floor hatch for lifting Negative shoes.

Then after posting on a London underground forum, I got lead to another post, which led to some comments under an article about the underground, and this said basically the same as Matt’s research.

The blue stars are an indication of where the shoes are on the train, in case they need to be lifted. They were on all the old Victoria line trains and are on the baker loo as the trains are basically the same.

For anyone confused about negative shoes, this is the wiki description of shoes. Somebody had fun coming up with names for stuff.

Electric railways with third rails, or fourth rails, in tunnels carry collector shoes projecting laterally (sideways), or vertically, from their bogies. The contact shoe may slide on top of the third rail (top running), on the bottom (bottom running) or on the side (side running). The side running contact shoe is used against the guide bars on rubber-tired metros. A vertical contact shoe is used on ground-level power supply systems, stud contact systems and fourth rail systems.

I suspect it’s the vertical contact shoe that needs lifting and is marked by the star (which I still say is black.)

So I’m going to leave the mystery alone for now, but it won’t be forgotten. I suspect London is full of odd little mysteries, I’d like to connect some of them up. Any ideas how?

 

 

It seems we are competing.

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“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”  ― George Orwell, 1984

Weather: beautiful day to be a gardener

Mood: sitting pretty singing a ditty

Word of the day: Eutropic – turning to face the sun

The sun was bursting out today. Mike was worried and squirted some sun cream onto a tissue (it’s attached to the wall) and brought it round to all of us so we wouldn’t burn. That’s why I love this place.

Mike was in shorts, and at break Dan mentioned he might do the same tomorrow.

‘Ok, but once you’ve put shorts on you’ve got to wear them until December!’ said Mike.

‘Why’s that then?’ I asked, confused.

‘That’s the way it is. You put shorts on, you’ve got to keep them on until winter. It’s a competition, see who can wear them longest.’

‘Alright,’ said Dan, and I boggled a bit, what if it gets cold? That’s just making life unpleasant. If they want competition, can’t they play poker or something?

Another update: For those concerned, I’ve posted a question on a forum about the black star on the tube. Maybe someone knows what I’m talking about. I also travelled on the Jubilee line today, no star. And no star at the other end of the Bakerloo train. So it may just be the last carriage of the Bakerloo trains.

Can you help with this mystery?

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Sorry about the crappy photo, it isn’t easy to take a photo of a tube ceiling in rush hour.

Life used to be filled with unanswerable questions, but then Google came along and answered them all. Except THIS one.

Weather: blue skies filled with puzzlement

Mood: quizzical

Word of the day: sideral – sent from the stars; ominous or evil

Question of the day: why is there a black star on the ceiling of many carriages on the tube (London Underground)? They’ve been there a few decades at least. Not on every train, and it may be only the last carriage (which is where I tend to sit) but always on the ceiling, a black star sticking about an inch across. I tried Google, but no luck.

I asked at work and NOBODY has ever noticed it but me, they looked at me like I was delusional, until I showed them a photo.

So has anyone else noticed this too? Do any of you know why they are there?

More of Hamoudi’s story

 

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Word of the day: kinkens – (scots) to give an evasive answer to an inquisitive child

Weather: larvely

Mood: driven mad by curiosity

Went out for a walk and came home to find Neville painting the hallway a new shade of green. Seems he’s decided to respond to Jinjing’s complaints by redecorating. I suggested that she’d prefer it if he cleaned the toilet, but he huffed at me and carried on. I guess he’s making a point, but I find making a point is as effective as leaving cleaning products around as a hint.

Joined Hamoudi and Jinjing in the garden. Our garden gets a patch of sun that moves across the grass, so they were making the most of it, shifting out of the shadows as they crept up, a slow game of chase. I asked the usual polite questions, before steering Hamoudi around to why he left Canada.

‘You said something happened, aside from seeing dead people, that is,’ I said, nonchalantly, hiding that I’ve been obsessing about this since he mentioned it last week. I picked a daisy for Jinjing, who was making a chain.

Hamoudi sighed, looked at the sun and sneezed.

‘It was weird, it was like there was a light on me, a flashing arrow above my head. Strangers kept coming up to me. At first it was small, a kid gave me a marble, this old lady patted me on the arm when we were waiting at the side of the road to cross. Stuff like that.’

‘Ah right,’ I said. Hamoudi shrugged, he’s a huge man, so he shrugs effectively, like a mountain lifting.

‘Then one night I couldn’t sleep, so I went out to this café and got myself a coffee. This woman came up and sat opposite me. I remember the café owner looked over with a look of You ok with this strange woman who just sat down with you in a deserted café? And then the woman started talking. She said, “You know what’s happening, don’t you?”’

At that point, the back door slammed and locked shut. I guess Neville had finished painting and wanted to make another point. It’s at times like that you learn you’re no good at picking locks. Eventually we got back inside (which involved kicking the door really hard, turns out it isn’t very secure), but by then the conversation was forgotten. So now I shall have to obsess again.

 

Finally! Talking to Hamoudi again. And eating salad.

 ‘I want to tell you my secret now…’

The Sixth Sense

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Tricky to hold the plastic pry tool and the phone at the same time, so I apologise for the ineptness of this photo

Weather: grey.

Mood: hermit crab

Word of the day: yapness – hunger

The furniture shop/garden centre down my road has now become a ‘Lifestyle Café’ after only being a garden centre for a week. A fancy sign declares it so. There were quite a few guys hanging around chatting, but I’m pretty sure they are the guys that hung out there when it was a furniture shop, so I doubt they’re spending much money. There were also a few washing machines for sale.

I drifted over that way, thinking I could do with a lifestyle. I had a look at the sign, admired the plastic ivy they had winding up the frame of the café. Then the guys all noticed me and stared, their expressions clearly saying, This is no place for the likes of you! So I hurried away.

On the bright side, I managed to bump into Hamoudi in the kitchen. He was cheerfully making a complicated salad, and after all my popcorn and crackers, I got pretty jealous. I asked him how his job at the bar was going, whether he was missing home, all the questions you’re supposed to ask someone you don’t know well. Finally I blurted out,

‘So, you see dead people?’

His face dropped, he stopped dicing carrots and leaned on the counter. Then said, his voice heavy with sorrow,

‘Back home, yeah. It’s been ok here. So far.’

‘What people? People you knew?’

‘No, just in the street. Looking in the window, in trees sometimes. They’re everywhere. They get lonely.’

‘And they scared you? That’s why you left?’

‘No, they made me sad. Every day, all these sad faces. And when other stuff started happening too, I thought, I can’t stay, this place isn’t safe.’

‘What other stuff?’ I asked.

Hamoudi said nothing, but handed me a bowl of salad with a look of sorrow and then turned away. I crept out. I was pretty excited about my healthy food, but forgot a fork so I had to eat it with a plastic pry tool for the car. They’re surprisingly effective.