Category Archives: Girlfriend

The Haunted Room

We were elated. It was a silly, spontaneous act but we agreed that moving in together made the most sense; the time and money we were wasting getting to and from our respective abodes and the amount spent in eachother’s company was getting into silly territory. This way we could spend time with each other as a by-product of doing all the little daily things we’d be doing anyway.

Well, maybe not all the little things...

The house-hunt was mercifully short as we settled on the second place we’d come to view; a large room in a flat-share with a brand new kingsize bed, lovely wee kitchenette, two work-desks and access to the gorgeous rooftop terrace which looks out onto the cute behinds of Tufnell Park’s houses and flats. The location was great (Tube station less than 5 mins away) the price was sweet and the room had the potential to fulfil our cutesy dreams of being hip, young poverty-stricken urbanites so we giggled a bit, said yes to the hilariously combustible Greek family that rents the flats, and giggled some more, planning to invest in necessities such as wall hangings, fairy-lights and incense.

Some things are just too good to be true…

Oh why didn’t I heed your warnings BBC3’s The Real Hustle!

Soon after we’d dumped our stuff in our new room we bounded down the stairs, eager to acquaint ourselves with the area and perhaps with our new housemates. We bumped into one on the landing below ours, a handsome young chap who was just exiting his room. We pounced on him in unison, shaking hands and declaring our arrival with goodwill and were met with a friendly but oddly tired response. He was just moving out you see, oh that’s a pity we said, trouble with the neighbours he said, oh dear we said, now getting worried, no need to worry he said, the culprit was in Room 7, our room, so he was gone too. Oh that’s a relief, we sighed, yes, he agreed, though with that same weariness, we were safe as he was now behind bars. This strangely didn’t make us feel safer. Oh dear, we said. Yeah, that’s why he and his girlfriend were moving out.

“She can’t come back,”

In hindsight this last line should have stuck with us a little harder but at the time we were too concerned with politely issuing “oh dear”s and “that’s awful”s as we quickly wound up the brief interaction bounding off to other more light-hearted fare.

It was a line that began to haunt us, just a tad.

We tried to keep the idea far from our minds and out of our new room but little left-over pieces of evidence kept drifting into our peripherals. For example, the casual mention of how No.7’s former occupant had smashed the intercom phone by the technician who came to fit us a new one; the empty packets of wooden flooring (even the floor in our room had to be replaced?!) and now even our brand-new, still-in-the-plastic kingsize bed became conspicuous.

We refused to let our wild-running imaginations tarnish the room but as we snuck under the covers on that first night it was impossible to keep those persistent doubts from creeping into the bed with us to the extent that at one point Girlfriend aimed her saucer-like eyes at me and said:

“Will you come to the bathroom with me? I’m scared.”

The next day, our detective work continued. Girlfriend had managed to intercept some mail for Room 7, and using the name of the intended deliveree and this web-zone called “Google”* she ascertained that he was indeed in court (his preliminary hearing had fallen on the same day we had collected our keys!).  The internet knows a scary amount of things.

The recentness of the whole affair increased our sense of unease but what irked us the most was the revelation that our room had not just been the lair of the Accused but also the scene of the crime.

After interactions with some of our new neighbours and after a delightful BBQ on the terrace with the occupants of Room 2 we were finally filled in on some of the details. Adding to his horrendous crime he had also been a drug addict who had refused to pay rent for over 6 months. Now we know why our landlord demanded good references. Good for us but for her, alas, too little too late.

With confirmation we could finally move on and our sense of unease began to give way as the room slowly became our own. Not as many fairy-lights as I would like for the moment but the ghost that haunted us has been exercised to some extent.  Our fridge is packed and cupboard stacked to bursting with caramel wafers (from LIDL. So. Fucking. Good.) and a pattern of daily life is emerging, Girlfriend making me sam-ges in the morning before I jet off to work (some feminist she is).

Finding normality, for us, is relatively easy of course and I only hope for the couple that were below us, for the woman especially, that they too can regain some sense of normality and balance.

*to find out more about this website you can visit it by typing double you, double double you google dot com (all lower case!)

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Fundazing

He was huge. His vast, expansive girth somehow managed to exceed his tremendous height, peeping down at us, as he was, from behind his glazy spectacles with a head that tapered to a point like a cartoon bird. Sliding a layer of sweat from his brow with a clumsy backhand he entrusted the nearest bench with his arse, landing with much huffing and puffing.

“Them stairs…”

This is how I met Daniel, and the rest of the motley Charity fundraising team, as he broke the comfortable ice we’d let crystallise in the waiting room before our induction day officially began. Located in an old factory building in hip, trendy Dalston, there were admittedly many stairs but also, it seemed,  a collection of contrived “characters” who’d turned up for training. This job attracts and rewards the confident and the eccentric. More’s the pity as it wasn’t long before Daniel was telling us yet another “funny” anecdote in his nasal Essex drawl, replete with Sylvester the Cat Thpeech impediment.

“That’ths juth’t hith way, moi mayte, like’th to have a laugh, ooh e’s a funny one. Thith one time…”

He was a writer, by trade. And by trade I mean unemployed. It was actually sublime, really, to start one’s day at 9:30 in a renovated factory, having an enormous, verbally unstoppable man-child regale an awkward gathering of inductees with his own terrible poetry. My own Vogon.

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"The third worst in the Universe!"

During the training another character managed to stand out, by the name of Z. Z was 27 and an Indian salesman through and through and I had taken note of him earlier due to his snappy dress sense, waist-coat and gold watch. He had been let go from a sales company that’d just gone bust and was just using this job to float. Despite his formidable resume, he stood out as man-child #2, constantly whining about undertaking simple tasks, refusing to listen and asking the question “When we are[sic] getting our break?” every ten minutes in the patois of a six year old boy who’s had a very long day.

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"When we are going to get paid?!"

With every new person who came to give us a new skills workshop or pitch training I delighted in seeing the moment they twigged something just wasn’t quite right about these two and having to resort to tactics of control I’d not seen since primary school.

There’s no such thing as stupid answers, just stupid people.

I was the odd one out in the room as being the only male not married or engaged. Andre, a delightfully sane Canuck had just married a girl he’s known for about a year, Z’s set to move to Poland to be with his pregnant, 19-year-old Bride to be (which has never stopped him from gathering as many girls’ phone numbers on the street as he can) and Daniel, well Daniel met his fiancé online, possibly in his Star Trek role-playing group. That man gives a bad name to Star Trek role-playing groups.

The funny thing is, despite their glaring inadequacies as normal, rational human beings and their inability to hold a conversation with someone without wearing the other party’s patience thinner than Bible paper they still manage to get leads out on the street. Z does especially well with his wheeler-dealer, sleazy salesmanship raking in the sign-ups with aplomb. And I still manage to flounder somehow.

Lol.

Perhaps I’m just not heeding the advice of my Team Leader, who’s name I shan’t disclose- suffice it to say he’s named  himself after a geological formation. Imagine, if you will, Simon Pegg’s character from that episode of Black Books; “Yeah, hey, guys just want you to have a good time out there, bounce around, talk to people in the sun,enjoy yourself but you really need to get thirty-five sign-ups today to make up for yesterday’s performance.” He consistently manages to raise you up for a fall in a one-step-forward two-steps-back management style so that your self-esteem flatlines by the end of the day. And he even sounds eerily like Simon Pegg.

“Imagine that in one hand you have the sign ups that you’re collecting and in the other you have all of the charity’s money, and it’s blowing away in the wind. You need to get as many as you can to make up for the blown away money.”

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Cheers.

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Long time, no see

Weeeeell, it has been some time since my last post. In that time I lost my house, my job and my laptop charger decided to pooter to a stop. It’s been going pretty frickin’ swell I can tell you. That and my lack of human contact contributing to a wee bit of stress and strain with my main source of human contact. I’ve been quite hard on her and it’s not really fair. BUT I’m moving to foggy old London town and received a part in The Importance of Being Ernest in the Brighton Fringe so praps things will start to look up!

Home? Cake? YES

Now I’m going to share with you yet another strange going on in the Old Stein. Walking toward the bus stop at around half nine in the evening I had to pass through a wide alleyway that connects the Lanes with the Stein. It was already quite dark and when I glimpsed two black clad figures loitering awkwardly by the wall I felt a touch of apprehension. However, as muggers their demographic was all wrong; a man, mid-thirties and an older woman, portly both wearing black wind breakers. Their conversation halted abruptly as I passed, furthering their suspicious nature and the long, awkward silence was suddenly broken by the bleep and crunch of a police walkie-talkie. The pair wore their best poker-faces and made no move to answer it.

So, presumably I’ve been witness to yet another act of terrible police surveillance in the Stein. Maybe they’re onto me. Maybe I’m not as paranoid as I should be! I;d rather think they were criminals who’d pick up tips on theft after watching Drive.

Anyway, I’ve got to go move house again. Toodles.

I think we both need the toilet.

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