In 1983 I was sharing a house with 3 other people in the City. Two were a couple (the girl was called Kim Blood) and the other girl was an art student. I distinctly remember her storming in one day yelling and ranting that her pile of stones should have got her a 2.1 degree not a lousy 2.2. Weird. The landlord of the house kept one room ‘for himself’ even though he didn’t live there – something to do with rent laws or such back then. Heh … I start writing this about one thing and other things pop into my head:
- The water heater was in the bathroom and you had to switch it on and off yourself. I decided to have a bath, switched it on, got drunk, went to bed and woke to find every bit of wallpaper dropped from the wall. Very Dali-esque with a hangover
- I had a party there during which I was dared to drink almost a pint of vodka. I did and later was apparently talking to someone when I got nudged. I fell over and stayed there til morning. I wasn’t ill either.
- Take the end compound off matches. Do this to many matches. Take 2 bolts, 1 nut. Part screw one bolt into nut. Fill with the matches stuff. Carefully screw in the other bolt. Throw onto concrete. Best done at night and with understanding neighbours
- I locked myself out one night so went round to the Police station about 100 yards away. They told me they could smash the door in. Given I could do that myself I declined. Wandered down the street to a house with a light on, knocked and asked for a ladder so I could get in. I was given it too.
- Election Day. In the run-up, lots of electors cards had appeared through the door, but none to any of us. I went round to the Polling Station with bills, letters and whatever I could get with my name and address on. I was refused the opportunity to cast my vote (which remains the only time I haven’t). According to the register, the 11 people living in the terraced house could vote but not the 4 really living there. That annoyed me intensely and still shapes my views on some matters political.
- The washing machine died. A new one was fitted which made all the cold water pipes in the kitchen go live. Funky!
- We had a bit of a ‘fair rent’ argument going on ….
Anyway … to get back to what I was going to say … I worked in the pub (the one where I met J) back then. <Old man>Back in those days</Old man> the pubs closed between 3pm – 5:30pm (honest they did!) so I’d go home. But on Fridays it was that busy with restocking I’d stay all day. So this particular Friday I’m there all day, stop on for a few beers after shutting and I get home after midnight (One night I was walking back to another house round there and I was nabbed by the police because I fitted the description of a man wanted for a shooting. After protesting my innocence from the back of a locked up police wagon I found a payslip in my pocket with my name on. They let me out a few miles from where they picked me up – no lift back !) (I was also among many questioned about a couple of murders because I lived near enough and fitted a profile). So I get home – and the other 3 have buggered off.
Loads of stuff all gone. Right then I could do nothing. Because we had been in a rent dispute though, I’m left with that bill. I soon found out I’d got a £200 phone bill, £100 gas and also the electric. I don’t recall my exact feelings but I can guess. I quit that house quick and moved (to another with a whole set of stories …). I then moved to another house after that. At both houses I was effectively a lodger – not in practice but the way things worked. Eventually with J’s help I got the money together and we paid the bills .. in 1983 I was earning £54 a week. I was paid Thursdays and had Thursday night off. Many was the time I’d wake on a Friday morning and realise that I’d be living on crisps and pop I could pinch from the pub. Again. So we go to pay the bills. The electric and the phone were easy. And the next bit I remember distinctly.
We went into the Gas Showroom place in the City. Waited in the queue and got to the payment desks. I told them my name, explained about the several months delay and that they’d not know where I’d been to get the money. The lady told me to hang on and tapped away at her terminal. She then told me where I lived. What she actually said was that Court Proceedings had started and papers were being sent to me. As far as I knew, only J knew where I lived. Literally. Since leaving the first house many months previous I’d been on no bills. No electoral register. No place of employment with my address (even the pub). The landlords I’d had were getting the money ‘on the side’ – but the Gas people still found me. In 1983. And for a debt of only £100. I thought that was scary back then, and yet here I am on the internet, information all over the place and I’m meant to be concerned about my ‘privacy’ ?