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!

 

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.