Friday, 31 December 2010

From That to This - Landlords - Good and Evil

In the local and national news, the search for the strangler of a young woman in Bristol and whether the police will Charge her landlord, currently being held for questioning. Startling, the victim's flat is a replica of my Bump's while she was in that locality, as a post-grad. Not the same flat, just the same speculative builder's architect around the turn of the century developing that part of hilly Bristol. Gave me a jolt all the same.

When the young woman was first reported missing and her parents believed her abducted I said, to myself, The Landlord Did It !

POSTSCRIPT: 22 April 2011 ~ the victim's landlord, who was not charged and is reported to have had no involvement in the case has, I understand, today begun a legal process to sue the newspapers who speculated on his involvement in the murder. I am happy to record this on my blogpage.

My first experience of a Landlord was when I left home at just eighteen to work in London, in the early 70s. I found a bedsit in Putney in a house of 5 bedsits let only to single females, and the landlord lived on the ground floor. And did odd things - placed mirrors in odd places, such as opposite when one sat on the loo. Little things that were dismissed as dodgy, discussed amongst us single female tenants, nothing done about it. You didn't, then. Just like you didn't do anything when touched-up on the Underground, but accepted it, as part of life as female, then. Then the Landlord converted a disused back room adjacent to the garden door, into a laundry-cum-shower room. Again, mirrors in odd places - so full view of oneself in the shower. We females at the time felt he had gone too far this time .... the automatic washing machine was the enticement to use the other new facilities he had provided ... so we felt uncomfortable, and although we didn't talk about it specifically, I do not think I was the only one unsure of what spy-holes or two way mirrors he could have installed, and so he was cross we didn't use the newly provided shower and automatic washing machine, preferring the safety of the dark walk to the local launderette.

Decades later, looking for a flat to rent for my Bump in Bristol, I recalled my London landlord experience when Bump and I were interviewed by all sorts of dodgy seeming Landlords, usually dodgy in financial terms, or just plain dirty and dangerous - the rooms available for rental I mean. So we found a female landlady, not resident, with a flat with its own separate outside staircase and front door. Fairly safe. And she was. It worked well, and the architecture was lovely inside and out, just like that flat being shown on the tv news this evening. But my Bump could just as easily have found herself as his tenant. And the tv news are linking with an unsolved murder by strangulation of a young woman in the same area thirty years ago.

From That to This - from a Landlord experienced as Evil (allegedly) to the Good Landlord I have now in a shared ownership scheme for people with disabilities - and safe, despite the current cobbled-together government's dismantling of financial support for the impaired and dis-abled. Safe for existing scheme members that is. The shared-ownership scheme is no longer available to new applicants due to government cuts in mortgage support. That is evil in the wrong it does to the prospects for other impaired and dis-abled-by-society people.

The oak tree in the snow pictured above is on my garden boundary hedge of blackthorn, sloe and bramble. It has been there about 200 years and the hedge is an old boundary, separating occasionally flooded grazing from apple orchards. Just bungalows now, but the oak is a safe home to a thousand insects and many birds. If I can't afford to have the hedge cut this spring, and instead let it flower then fruit, I could be drinking sloe gin next Christmas !

This Christmas I was thinking of those parents in Bristol whose Christmasses will never be celebratory ever again.

Monday, 20 December 2010


Yesterday is probably going to be the only way and day I celebrate the feast of Christmas this year, unless we have another miracle .... a thaw !

So, to be able to sit in the Choir, singing for the parish church Carol Service, surrounded by Victorian wall mosaic in pink and gold, candle light and children's voices, was a blessing I was very aware of.

Waitrose couldn't deliver Christmas (as in that episode in "The Good Life"), and tomorrow's girly Christmas lunch impossibly impassable. Bump away with her Beloved on the 25th, and my nearest family claimable for Christmas are a day away in Yorkshire.

We have ten inches of wonderful whiteness and that's a lot for the middle bit of the south west (and I remember '63 in Derbyshire when I was only ten and the white stuff was higher than my wellies), so the countryside has ground to a halt. Also, since moving I have been declassified to a 'C' road, rather than the snow-ploughed and gritted Emergency Services route between major routes, that I was before.

Which is a blessing in disguise, as my Tramper was the only vehicle on the white road today, so I could photograph the white hill.

The Fairy Cake ? I left the Carol Service before sociable Tea and Cakes, courtesy of the presiding Priest, but was offered a plate of fairy cakes as I passed through the door to the snow ... which was wonderful, because as any concert-in-a-church-goer will know ... often there is a plate to Collect Money from you as you leave ... and being very-low-income-because-dis, it grates. So, I was blessed to be able to collect a fairy cake on my way out and, managing the hat, scarf, gloves, stick, handbag, the only place to put it was balanced on top of the handbag, and off I trotted. (Yes, trotted, as thanks to loads of drugs and better health, I can walk short distances, hence being able to sit in the Choir. Even when everyone else stood.)

So, balancing my Fairy Cake, I walked down the church path ...

... thinking about it later, did I brush off a possible introduction? I am so used to being guarded and shrugging-off flirtatious comments from men using the excuse of my visible disability to patronise (which annoys their wives, further isolating me from social interaction) that I had a quick response back ... but the well-balanced fairy cake could have been placed there by the Christmas Wishes Fairy to grant him an opportunity to talk to that reasonably attractive (yes, give me time and a plan and I can manage that) single 50-something lady who is also that mad-bat that trundles through the village byways on a scooter, dragged along by a beagle.

Did I ?