My calendar alerted me to the fact it’s David’s birthday next Tuesday. He will be 104. I texted him and enquired vaguely, ‘What are you doing for your birthday?’ He was abroad, visiting the grave of his ex-girlfriend, which is why he didn’t invite me; the trip seemed to involve lots of wine drinking and festivals. He left Prudence, the cat he took back from me after I had cared for her for three years, for nearly five days with only dry food and water. ‘She won’t starve,’ was his last word on the subject.
He replied: ‘I would like to spend some time with you. How about I come for the weekend?’
But his birthday is on a Tuesday. How does that involve a whole weekend? It’s like all those stupid brides to be, who invite you to a wedding that involves you paying for a present, paying for a new outfit, paying for a hotel room and breakfast, and for the air/train fare; I really do think anyone who gets divorced owes everyone a refund.
He never invites me anywhere (number of suggestions from David in 2017 to date: zero), and yet just because he was born a million years ago I have to spend money I don’t have. I will have to sell something. I will have to get my hair dyed, legs waxed, book a restaurant, buy gluten-free bread and things like marmalade. It’s tricky, too, as I have now had my Barclays account frozen. According to the Official Receiver, ‘Barclays don’t like bankrupts. We suggest you contact Citizens Advice.’
Anyway, having been told I have to move somewhere cheaper, I went to see a house. It was gorgeous, but not perfect: it shares an entrance with two offices, and one of the offices extends into the back garden (the brochure suggests, ‘A professional gardener can be employed, in addition to the rent’; helpful!). I can only imagine the number of times the front door will bang during the day, as office workers emerge to smoke outside my window. But, being deaf and desperate, I wanted it.
I fired off an email to the estate agent. ‘It is stunning and beautifully restored! I am long term, divorced, no children. I never wear shoes in the house, and clean every day. I am registered deaf, so have two small dogs who let me know if there is a fire, or a burglar, or someone at the door.’ I then offered over the asking price.
I got a reply. ‘The landlord is a creative person and will be using the office for the tranquillity of designing his walking boots. Your dogs are your ears, and as such will bark as they have been taught to do, and will be a distraction. He is a dog lover himself. And your dogs could disturb the other people in the big office.’
I replied. ‘My dogs don’t bark to alert me, as they know I’m deaf. They’re not stupid. They jab me with their pointy noses. I imagine a family will move in, with screaming children or teenagers, and they won’t take kindly to office workers gossiping outside the window, smoking. The office workers won’t particularly like screaming kids in a paddling pool in the summer! I am a writer. If anyone needs peace and quiet, it’s me!’ I told the estate agent that this is discriminating against a disabled person. Would they not rent a house to a blind person with a guide dog?
I got more bad news last week. I’d contacted a solicitor with a view to suing the people who sold me my house (estate agent, vendor, solicitor), and who did not alert me to a long-standing problem with the farmer next door. The solicitor told me the case could cost me £100,000, with no guarantee I would win. So the farmer’s behaviour meant I lost a lot of money when I was forced by HMRC to sell up; I’m now too poor to fight my corner.
The farmer has stalked women, while the woman at Tesco who alerted him to the presence of a victim has not been sacked, merely reprimanded. The simple desire for safety by those of us who aren’t rich, who haven’t inherited millions, is one more thing we’re not allowed to own.