Frankly, who would want to? Right now, I’m in my room, trying to write, for that is what I do. Unfortunately, I have to write this first in order to simply get things off my mind so that I may focus on writing properly: the next short story, or to continue with my second novel.
I’m somehow guilty for shutting myself away up here in what is in fact my private home. Should I not be allowed to do as I please in a place I pay rent for, provided I don’t undertake anything illegal? Apparently not, according to my landlord.
Cutting a very long story short, my landlord seems to have it in his head that I’m withholding rent from him. He thinks that I’ve been paid housing benefit and that I’ve not passed that on to him. His “reasoning”, although he is not a reasonable person, is as follows:
I spend all of my time upstairs in my rooms. Whilst there, I drink alcohol and he wonders what else I get up to. Surely that’s no-one’s business but my own, unless I were to be doing something illegal? He feigns concern for me, saying to my friends, behind my back that he’s counted the number of empty cider bottles in the rubbish. I am an alcoholic. I drink up to three litres of white cider per day – down from nine – at a cost of the price of one pint over the bar downstairs. I have little money and I have an addiction.
He questions the number of DVDs which arrive in the post for me here. So what? I collect rare and extreme films. It’s a hobby. His belief is that I have this money which I’m withholding from him and I’m using it to live the life of Riley up here. I wish I could afford to fraternise more with the dwindling numbers of punters downstairs but I can’t. Not since the landlord took away my cleaning duties. Frankly though, I wouldn’t want to be downstairs in the atmosphere created by some when they’re here anyway. And the DVDs cost about two quid each by the way. He just assumes that I pay for them all: I may not. Some may be gifts: a concept which would be alien to some.
When I’m downstairs, having a drink, it’s assumed that I have money. I don’t. Other people buy me drinks. They’re called friends: another alien concept perhaps. The point is, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Wherever I am, there is a sneaking suspicion about me, based upon nothing but the figment of an imagination.
There seems to be another alien concept: that of maths. What I’m asked to pay in rent – which is a sum few besides the really needy would pay for this place – is not covered by my housing benefit. I make up the difference myself, which is another reason I’m unable to socialise in the bar. I’m in arrears on my rent: this was always going to be the case as I’m on housing benefit and I made the fact clear before I took on the tenancy. Everything I receive from the council, I have paid over to the landlord and I have provided proof of this by showing him my bank statements. I will always be in arrears by the very nature of the arrangement. Despite me topping things up out of my own money, the landlord still thinks that I’m in arrears to a greater extent to that which I should be. Simple fact: I may well be in arrears for six weeks but then I receive my fortnightly housing benefit, which I pay to the landlord. This places me four weeks in arrears: the norm for housing benefit tenants. The landlord’s argument is that I then go into a further two weeks arrears while we wait for the next housing benefit payment. Yes: well done. That is indeed the case and it is normal. I can no further get blood from a stone in getting money from the council than I can polish a turd.
If someone is able to somehow spell this out to my landlord, that someone is a better person that me. For now, I just have to keep throwing money at him to keep him off my back and hopefully keep my home. I do like it here. I want to stay, but for the constant harassment. Harassment is a crime.
So with that off my back but with the landlord still riding me piggyback, my mind is clear, if not cleansed.
Welcome to my place. Or put another way, this is mine and you’re welcome to it.
Now I have work to do, for that is what I do up here, in the part of the pub I like the most. It pays little but it’s a means to an end. I am a writer and the power of the written word is far greater than that of the sword.
Don’t threaten me. Don’t tempt me.
Sometimes you need to ask if someone may have more on you than you think you may have on them. Because there’s far more to it than what’s written here and if I were to let the cat out of the bag, it wouldn’t be me being obliged to live somewhere else. I know.