Barry explodes!

water

I’m not argumentative, it’s just that other people are so incredibly wrong that I have to point it out.

Word of the day: Kelpie – mischievous water spirit

Today was a day of rain and rain and rain. We stayed outside hoeing weeds off paths, and keeping our heads down, waiting for the minutes to inch past.

At break time we had fifteen minutes to try and dry off, even though it’s summer we all huddled around the radiator.

Then Barry (attention-seeking road sweeper who’s become increasingly unpleasant over the last few weeks) came stamping into the mess room. He was wet through and had decided that was our fault, specifically mine.

‘Well thank you very much!’ he shouted. We all looked at him blankly. He was waving his arms around, eyes bugging out.

‘I was out there all on my own and then the rain came down like a fucking bus on my head!’

‘Oh dear,’ we all mumble, ‘shame.’ It hadn’t occurred to him that we experienced the exact same rain.

‘But none of you came to check on me did you? None of you came to see I was ok!’ He was red-faced, slamming things in his locker, then taking them out so he could slam them in again. At this point I thought, bollocks, and sat down to read the paper. He had been building up to this tantrum with a series of minor tantrums, and my patience had worn away to nothing. The others in the room made awkward sympathetic noises, but I stayed quiet.

Now, in case you’re wondering, there’s no reason why we would check on him, we don’t work with him, we never know where he is, or even if he’s at work unless we happen to pass him. But in Barry’s mind (which I’m starting to think is the mind of the narcissist) this was an affront! An insult! How dare we!

His ranting carried on, but now I was obviously not listening, and this was a further insult, a sign of disrespect. And although he didn’t use my name, I could tell that each rage-filled comment was now directed at me, I could feel his bug eyes trying to burn a hole through my paper. Above the page, I could see him leaning over the table towards me.

‘No! Don’t worry about me! I’ll be fine! You just sit there like it doesn’t matter!’

So I did. And it didn’t.

‘I could have died out there! You wouldn’t even know!’ He slammed something in his locker again. ‘And look at me! I’m soaked! I’m not going to be able to dry off now,’ he snarled, I focused on my paper. ‘I’ll be wet all day!’

Eventually he ran out of words and I ran out of break. I got up and walked to the door, where I ran into Mike coming in.

‘Hi Inkbiotic, do you think you could help me do a service on the hedgecutters after break?’

‘Sure, Mike,’ I say.

From behind me, Barry sneered,

‘Oh she can speak! Now she talks.’

I didn’t say anything, because fuck this, and I carried on out the door. As I went back into the rain with relief, I heard Barry shouting after me,

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.’

But it’s too late. He’s a dickhead and I’ve had enough.

A Trundling Sunday

wooden 2

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.

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.

Have mystical forces kept me away?

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‘Oooh eerie mystical doom.’ Kurt Cobain

Word of the day: odology  –  science of the hypothetical mystical force of od (not heard of this before and there doesn’t seem to be much information online. Anybody know about it?)

I haven’t written for a really long time now (it may only be weeks) and I’ve not been sure why. Every time I’ve picked up my still-broken laptop, held together with tape and a rubber band, my mind has been a void. Until now, I put this down to general apathy. Stuff has happened, my life has been fine, but I couldn’t think of a single reason why anyone else would want to read about it.

Then today it came to me, someone must be out to stop me and has put a block on me communicating with you, a spell. There have been clues: odd looks in the street, strange dreams, and I shut my finger in the gate which made the nail turn purple. I’ve seen people in my town (by which I mean the bit of London I live in) handing out cards offering to put spells on people for a reasonable fee, so the means are there.

Not sure about motive though. Was I in danger of stumbling on a truth? Did my seemingly innocuous posts about mowing troubles and landlady drama leave clues to a deeper conspiracy? I agree it’s unlikely, but so many things that happen are unlikely, so let’s not dismiss anything yet.

Anyway, for now the spell appears to have lifted and I’m back.

Other events: Mike has been making demands that we find money for the drinks fund (we use it when we go out drinking together). Since we work around rich people, they often drop tenners in the shrubs without noticing. Until today all I’d found was an out of date fiver, but this morning I was able to present Mike with a crisp twenty rupee note. He didn’t seem pleased.

And management have proudly told us that in a few weeks we will be saying goodbye to the rats and grime and moving into a new messroom [Hooray!] with them in the same building [Shit]. I don’t dislike our management as individuals, but as a group they like to sit around in silence being clean, speaking only when they need to bitch at each other. Gardeners aren’t really like that and I can see there being a clash. Still, we’ll see.

Anyway, sorry for neglecting you all, I’m looking forward to catching up on your blogs…

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.

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!

 

For a day, let’s just be happy!

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Weather: pale blue skies filled with sun, alternating dark blue skies filled with rain

Mood: many piles of silly

Word of the day: mabsoot  (Arabic) happy

Things have been hectic and ridiculous recently, but today was proper lovely.  Everyone at work was in a good mood: smiley and chatting about any old bollocks. At one point, me and Jessica were laughing so much by the main gates that a policeman hurried in the garden saying,

‘Now what’s going on? Is that laughter or is somebody crying?’

‘That’s us laughing,’ I explained.

‘That’s alright then, nothing wrong with laughing! Carry on!’ and he left again.

Problems just shrivel up and fall off after a day like that.

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.

Time to draw straws/breadsticks

breadstick

Day of reckoning: Who is going to speak to the landlady? We agreed to each pick a breadstick, whoever got the short breadstick (we didn’t have straws) contacts the landlady to ask why she’s visiting while we’re out.

Weather: bit nippy

Mood: foul

Word of the day: Jigamaree – a thingamajig; a cunning manoeuvre

Yep. I fucking lost. I thought I had method – I thought the wobbly breadstick was the short one, so I avoided that one. But now I’m thinking Jinjing also had method, and she made the long breadsticks wobble to catch out smart arses like me.

In other news: At work the shorts competition (who can wear shorts from now until winter) is getting tense between Dan and Mike. I was going to work with Dan out in a garden and Mike pulled me aside before I left.

‘It’s cold this morning, make sure that Dan doesn’t change into trousers while he’s out, won’t you?’

‘How would he even do that?’

‘Just make sure, I’m trusting you,’ said Mike.

‘But I don’t care,’ I tried to explain.

Half an hour later I was digging up some ground elder, when Mike called my phone, ‘Is Dan still wearing shorts?’

‘I don’t know, he’s on the other side of the garden,’ I said.

‘Go and check! Go and check! He might have changed!’

‘But I still don’t care,’ I said. Mike wasn’t listening. He wouldn’t get off the phone until I’d made sure Dan was still wearing shorts.