05.06.14 (Day 165)
It’s been quiet but then it hasn’t.
Much has moved lately, as it does in this transitory life: people mainly. Bridges have been rebuilt where previously they’d burned. Other bridges have been burned. The family has continued to grow and evolve. The agencies who are meant to be helpful to people like us have been anything but.
The only arm of officialdom which has been helpful are our neighbours, the police. we’re very close: they can see in through our windows from theirs and vice versa. We maintain our uneasy, co-operative relationship with the law, they visit us regularly and have confirmed (as recently as this morning), that we are legally entitled to be here for now. We don’t want to be but we are.
We are of course an inconvenience to the owner of the property which we currently occupy and we are a nuicance to the neighbours, even though we try not to be. So house us! We’d all rather be somewhere else; somewhere more secure and permanent but the rest of the system out there continues to fail us. So we have no choice but to sit tight and wait. Wait for the property owner to persue the legal route all the way to The High Court and have us forceably removed by court-appointed bailiffs. We have supporters from some surprising quarters and they sympathise. They say, “So re-home them!”
Personally – as a former business owner myself – I’d rather not be causing the property owner the hassle and cost which we no doubt are. He’s a businessman with prime property which has planning permission to be turned into an old people’s home (from an ex-funeral parlour; eventually, this place will be a playschool: oh, it is to some). He stands to make millions for himself and his grandchildren. We don’t want to stand in the way. So re-home us!
The Pink Hearts are still expanding far and wide (The Hell’s Angels tend to get around a bit) and we’ve been quietly forging links with other families. We do a bit of business; have our fingers in many pies and we manage.
The base has become a bit of a local focus lately as someone seeking refuge here was wanted by the police. They found him and he tried to escape via the rooftops. In doing so, a police seige ensued and he closed the town for four hours. The local press – in reporting the matter (wrongly) – have given away our exact location. Since then we’ve been attracting unwanted attention and if we even speak too loudly, we’re reported and the police are obliged to respond. They do the usual, run PNC checks and go about their business.
We thought we may have to move on but we sought the advice of The Squatters’ Legal Network (SLN), via CAB. We were advised to post legal notices on all entry points. This we did. There have been further developments since but it is up to the courts now, so information will be witheld for a while. We’re safe though.
We know our days are numbered: we have a calendar with dates on it.
I get to see my children in about three weeks. My ex-wife and her partner are moving away, so this may be my last chance in a while. Saturday 28th June and we’re going for lunch at Burger King in Bromley. While I’m up there, I figured Bexley is only a twenty minute bus ride from Bromley, so I’m planning a visit. Mixed emotions on my part will perhaps be greeted by a mixed reception but I have to face the music at some point, build yet more bridges and hope that some people are prepared to bury the hatchet. The two allies I need most are with me: my ex-partner and the landlord of my old local. As far as the latter is concerned, I’m welcome in his establishment, I’ve served my time and I’m in his duty of care. Shold anyone have a problem with me, they will be asked to leave. I arrive with baggage and hope that I’ll be permitted to leave it at the door. There’ll be a poker game too.
I went on the road on 23rd December (23.12). At the time of finding out about the visit to see the kids, there were 23 days to go. My son was born on 12.12.
Add my daughter’s age (7) and we get 42.
Funny how that number follows me around.
Jam Sandwiches and Ice Cream Vans
06.06.14 (Day 166)
I’m just home from church, where I run a coffee morning. I almost wish I wasn’t.
One of our number has been taken ill and there’s an ambulance outside. Upon arriving home, the ambulance crew have asked that I step inside their vehicle in my capacity as appropriate adult to one of the youngsters (who’s in the back of the ambulance). This young person’s foster carer knows that she is in my care and speaks to me daily to ensure that everything is in order.
On entering the ambulance, I ask for a choc ice and two Cornettos: they’re out of both.
Leaving my young charge in the capable hands of the ambulance crew, I ascend to the flat. We call it a flat as we’ve cleaned and tidied it in such as way as a particularly imaginitive estate agent could describe it as such. It’s a fucking tip: back to being a squat.
Those of us who live here do like to maintain some standards but few others do (there are exceptions). Many of our daily visitors think nothing of taking my tobacco (a valuable commodity on this side), eating the food I prepare for the residents (my one-pot-wonders), making a mess and leaving us to clear up with nothing to eat, while they go home and get fed.
I’ve given up asking politely. I’ve stopped shouting. I’ve relinquished what was once my living room and set my bedroom up as an office and crash pad: it’s actually rather nice. I have my old writing desk, recovered from the old concrete bunker; I have my netbook and all is generally well. My lieutenants have said that should anyone wish to see me, they have to go through them. I have personal space again and the means to indulge my passion for reading and writing in relative peace. That won’t last as my writing will be dismissed again by some. So be it.