05 Apr Landlordism in the 20th Century
It was a day like any other, full of the promise that each new day brings. The opportunity to make a fresh start, to put aside all that had gone before and forge a new life. Or so I thought . . .
With terrific force and a resounding crash the front door was flung open, and into the kitchen of our humble abode strode the harbinger of doom and despair, the prince of evil, pus jellied and under great pressure forced into a human-shaped mould.
He wore grey leather slip-ons, fitting snugly over a pair of Persil white tennis socks, which perfectly complimented the school grey slacks, wrinkle-free and boasting a crease straight as a ruler.
This was a man of style, of bearing and stature, who carried himself with all the elegance and panache of a pregnant hyena. In short, it was the landlord, man of a thousand evasions, and in this case, eviction.
‘Alright lads,’ he said, friendly as you like, ‘You’re getting out,’
We were understandably befuddled, what did the great man, our idol in all things gauche and greasy mean? Get out? Of the rat race? Of College? Or had he something more sinister in mind, was there perhaps some dastardly conspiracy of which we were blissfully unaware that had reached a critical point, our immediate removal from the embroilment being essential.
Had we stumbled upon a terrible plan to topple the duly appointed representatives of this fair isle, or even something far worse? We just didn’t know, our brains were reeling and our foreheads overheating with the monstrous number of possible scenarios being considered and then discarded.
‘You can’t live in this house for free, so I’m going to have to ask you to leave, lads,’
Aha! The penny dropped into the appropriate mental coin-slot and the two of us soon-to-be ex-tenants shared a relieved grin, just getting kicked out, nothing to worry about at all, phew! Thought it was something important there for a minute.
‘So if you could pack up your stuff and go,’ he looked at us in immediate anticipation of our compliance with his edict, pronounced fresh from the lips of the lippiest of the kings of creepdom.
‘Like . . . this minute?’ I asked in astonished incredulity, was this guy on speed or what?
I ask you, what does the term eviction notice mean? To me it implies some kind of forewarning, the word notice being very important in this context.
So we’re getting evicted, I thought, that’s a character building experience, that’s not too bad. However, it is nice to have more than one hour (60 actual minutes!) to pack all your stuff, find somewhere else to live, get all your gear transported there, and settle in. That kind of schedule doesn’t tend to encourage a stress-free state of mind, nor neat packing.
So there we were, the two of us, being hunted from our own home (well, sort of our own home), with cyber-landlord keeping his ever-watchful rheumy eye(s) upon us at every turn.
Not an unwashed dish or a dirty surface escaped his unrelenting gaze, in fact he exhibited perfect manners, having a kindly word to say about nearly every item in the house.
‘Oh what a filthy dirty plate that is, lads,’ he’d say at regular intervals, and he might throw in a ‘Look at the state of the cooker-top, it’s an absolute disgrace’ just for good measure and to make sure there were no awkward silences. He kept the banter going all right,
‘Have you no pride, for God’s sake!’ to which we’d reply with a hearty and deeply felt: ‘Sure we haven’t at all, master, worthless dogs that we are, to be sure!’ said we, doffing our caps and tugging our forelocks in grateful appreciation of the words of constructive abuse he had thrown at us from his royal dais.
Packed we were, and ready to travel . . . in a pig’s eye, but we didn’t even have that most humble method of transportation available to us. We had to admit defeat, though we were loath to reveal any shortcoming to the blighted one, lest he seize upon it and tear us limb from limb in a feeding frenzy unparalleled since the Argentinean Rugby squad ate out.
There was just no way we could pack all our gear into the one torn black plastic bag, and no way we could actually transport all our possessions even had we had somewhere to bring it. Of course, the Landlord was as helpful as always (well, if you count repeating the phrase ‘it’s not my problem’ in mantra fashion as helping), and he offered to drive us down to the College so we could – I don’t know – like . . . hang out there or something, dude.
Hanging out there was one thing, but I just didn’t see it as a place I could settle down and make into a home, and I had a fancy the porters would also have a word or two to say about any tenancy, so I gracefully declined.
Well, sort of gracefully, at least, but why use one word when twenty or even three hundred will do, so I elaborated quite extensively on why I felt that a lift down to the College for myself and my flat mate, with all our worldly possessions, was not what I would call – even were I a raving paranoid delusional foaming-at-the-mouth lover of Barney the Dinosaur and card-carrying member of the ICA – a good idea.
He seemed to appreciate my candour and elaboration of an issue which I felt had warranted serious discussion, as he responded with a fair heaping of candour himself, laced with quite a lot of sarcasm, and dare I say it, not a few naughty words, none of which I can bear to repeat, and I think he made most of them up himself anyway.
That was when I kicked him in the balls, rammed his head into the fireplace and beat him soundly across the buttocks with a table – or at least that’s what I wanted to do. Instead I just grinned and nodded and thought nasty thoughts, just like momma learned me when I was a boy back in the old country.
So there we were, wishing for bags built to the specifications of Dr. Who’s Tardis, because we had discovered the simple and seemingly blindingly obvious fact that 144 cubic feet of luggage ain’t going to fit into 4 cubic feet of bag.
Unless of course that bag happens to have a large gaping hole in it, which one could liken in theoretical terms to enlarging the holding capacity of the bag to the point where the entire universe would have fitted into it.
Unfortunately feeding the bag personal items which ultimately found their way onto the floor, via the obliging rent in the space-time continuum, was proving to be an extremely thankless task, and I was fast tiring of it.
So we threw caution to the winds and went out the door of our ex-house bag-less and carefree, having solved the problem by simply ignoring it, the good ol’ fashioned Irish way.
We arranged to meet the bastardmeister later that same day, in order that our fellow brother and sister tenants might have a chance to participate in the fun and games extravaganza.
It certainly was kind and considerate of him to allow us that extra time to arrange a really thorough, methodical beating for his sorry sickly-white honky ass. Yeah, you hum it and I’ll play it, brother!
A tattoo of footie boots across the forehead, including in the itinerary a walking tour of the nether regions, and not forgetting an exploration of the many and varied ways in which the human (I was giving him the benefit of the doubt) fingernail can be a source of the most exquisite and prolonged agony.
Pain as a musical experience into the deep and dark inky murk of the human soul, to torture and to obtain that most precious of jewels, that one pure note which contains all other tones within it, a lifetime of suffering, and regret too, contained within that liberated contralto. He would scream, that I promised.
Violence, it’s got a backbeat, you can dance to it. A rather twitchy flamenco, but a truer expression of inner torment and outer frenzy externalized in dance and internal haemorrhaging cannot be found. I would deal retribution unto the un-Godly with the swift vengeance of the lord, and to really get me into the mood I decided to while away the hours until the final confrontation, the apocalypse, by going to see Pulp Fiction at the ‘plex. Not for the first time, I might add. There was just something that kept drawing me back,
When we exited the Cinema we were greeted by nothing short of a monsoon, sheets of rain cascading from the heavens and crashing with great force upon the earth, and us. Neither of us had thought to bring anything approximating wet gear, so in a matter of moments, all we had was wet gear.
It was necessary for us to communicate the news of our impending eviction to our flat mates, and as soon as possible, so we made our way with all haste to where they were at, namely the Good Shepherd Campus. Why you might ask – if our mission was so urgent – had we dallied at the Cinema, and my answer would have to be that for all things there is a season, and everything in it’s season. We knew from conversations overheard and participated in that all of our flat mates had business in the Good Shepherd, which could not be shirked no matter what emergency arose. Perhaps I am adding more weight to the importance of whatever activity they were engaged in, but I can only repeat what I was told, and the emphasis with which it was told to me.
Besides, my timekeeper informed me , we had a further two hours until the appointed hour was upon us, as it was only 4:30 in the pm. We sauntered through the town, mindless of the sloshing noises we made with every step, the freezing water pooling in our eyes that blinded, the lancing pain which was a constant reminder of the refrigerating capabilities of driving rain upon the ears.
Going for a swim in ones’ clothes is not the most pleasant of experiences, but most especially so when the experience occurs on supposedly dry land.
Nonetheless, we arrived at the Good Shepherd Campus alive, if in some doubt as to our continued interest in that state, looking somewhat akin to a cross between drowned rats and victims of a Chinese water torture prolonged over several years.
No more than ten minutes later, and all the soon-to-be-homeless were proximal in location, (that’s Tom Clancy for in the same place), and the discussion began. A certain divergence of opinion became immediately apparent, on the one side there were the die-hard traditionalists. They were all for reducing the house to a pile of rubble, brick by brick. Now as much as I might have subscribed to that opinion, and I could definitely see the advantages which that kind of instant gratification brings, there was a little voice at the back of mind, and it was whispering, ‘Deposit, Deposit . . .’
The like-minded among my compatriots were urging caution: the figures just didn’t add up. As it was we were two weeks behind rent-wise, or 42 pounds in cash money. That compared to the figure of 80 pounds which we had shelled out as deposit left a deficit of 38 spondoolocks, and only being poor students living hand to mouth, that just wasn’t acceptable. There had to be another way. It was Aoife, our token female, who finally spoke into the deafening absence of inspiration, and what she said just blew us all away . . .