Friday, June 8, 1984

Victims of circumstance

This morning, Lee and I wandered up from the Grey House to find the hallway at the Vicarage filled with Oculus executives and workmen.

There were about a dozen altogether and their leader, grey suited and smiling, reminding me of a character from “The Godfather,” an impression emphasized by the presence of an obscenely fat bearded ‘heavy’ with tattooed arms . . .. We were told we had to get the rest of our things out within the day. We couldn’t believe it, and immediately directed our anger and frustration in Morris’s direction, wondering whether he’d either lied to us or simply got things wrong.

There was no one else about apart from Lee and I and the Citibank people who were now busy putting a different lock on the front door, so we rushed back down to the Art College and made fruitless attempts to ring Morris and Keith at the Housing Association before Pete and Gav appeared on the scene. I spent the next couple of hours lugging my boxes, trunks and suitcases down four flights of stairs and out into the road where I piled them on the pavement while the gangster boss wandered about with slimy benevolence in the front hallway . . ..

Eventually Morris turned up, then Sarah, and then the press were summoned and Pete, Lee, Sarah & I were photographed standing among our piles of belongings. By now we’d improved in spirits and we viewed the whole situation, growing more farcical by the minute, with loud amusement. I was interviewed by a woman reporter from the Herald and I told her that “we are just the victims of circumstance . . . Our only crime is to be homeless,” which made her laugh out loud at my clichéd parody. As her photographer took pictures (he was from Easterby we discovered), we invited an old man into the scene who’d been watching proceedings from across the street.

He wore a red carnation in his buttonhole and we gave him a bottle of pig’s blood to hold that Lee still had from the slaughterhouse, and Pete was photographed with his arm around him while we laughed ourselves hoarse. The oldster then proceeded, in a barely comprehensible voice, to tell us a tale about taking a teapot to a tip. “Can you believe that?” he said, laughing as he reached the end of his incoherent story.

Then two road sweepers stopped by on their way past. Their spokesman was in his late-fifties, scarred and bespectacled, and told us a story about a rich lady (with “nothing better to do with her fuckin’ time than pick on road sweepers”) who’d tripped and “fallen right on her fuckin’ face, the fuckin’ cunt.” He found this highly amusing and asked us if there was anyone we wanted beating up, so Pete jokingly pointed out Morris. We had to drag him back as he was rolling up his sleeves in preparation for the beating.

Pete somehow managed to get hold of a van driver who agreed to move all the stuff free of charge but he didn’t turn up until teatime, and by then we’d laughed so much that we felt burned out and deflated. After a short trip down to Maynard Gardens to unload the stuff into the basement, we were on our way to the Pembroke for a game of pool when Morris accosted us from across the road and told us that he’d been in touch with Oculus and they’d admitted that the whole thing had been a big mistake, a case of “crossed-wires” as he put it. So in order to atone for their blunder they’d agreed to put three of us up in a bed and breakfast for the weekend. We could hardly believe our luck, especially after M. told us that there was a chance Oculus would pay both our rates and electricity bills too.

So we followed Morris to Devon Square and a Watermouth Housing Association hostel for alcoholics to finalise plans and then went to the hotel, (Charles House), at Fiveways, to sign for and collect our keys. We rounded off one of the funniest days in a long time in the Frigate getting drunk with everyone else, Pete and I maliciously hooting over a story Oscar had told Pete about a time he went to bed with Kate, one of Liddy's friends, but unfortunately Liddy was within earshot and heard what it was we were laughing about.

Gareth and Stu came back and spent the night at the hotel with us.

1 comment:

Mister Roy said...

I stayed over there once and woke up v thirsty. Was delighted to see a bog bottle of Coke! Went to drink it, opened it and.... smell of rotten pig blood.

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