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.


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