My friend has basically been stuck in New Zealand for over a year now. I’ve got her snake, and periodically I go and check that nothing has exploded in her Hampstead flat. She’s lived in that flat for twenty years, since she left college. While she’s been in New Zealand she has kept up the rent and council tax. She isn’t allowed to sublet, so she hasn’t. This hasn’t stopped the landlord from announcing out of the blue that my friend has to leave immediately. No notice. No lead time. No hint. Just a sudden heave-ho by email. Evictions have been suspended, but my friend isn’t living there right now. New Zealand time is no good whatsoever for communication either. I got a call in the morning and I’ve been trying to make some movement in the waking hours of the day. No joy.

The landlord knows I haven’t got a key to the deadlock and they’ve deadlocked the flat so there’s no way for me to get in. I’m not getting any replies to my messages yet. I can’t even get my own stuff out, let alone start making sense of the volume of my friend’s stuff to be sorted through. The thing I can’t countenance is how there’s been no notice. I rent out a room here on a casual basis and even I give a clear two months and then don’t particularly mind if there’s an overspill while people get their shit together. I’m hoping I’ll get a word with the landlord of my friend in the near future, but I’m not expecting much sense out of them. As the occasional caretaker I’ve met them. I was essentially made to feel unwelcome at the flat some time ago and now it’s developed further. This landlord is another person sitting on an asset and doing very little with it – I’ve been like that for frustrating years to my friends. They too have historically charged very little rent, but now they’ve got a bee in their bonnet. It’s this Covid bollocks. It’s sharpened a lot of us as we have been forced to find other avenues – particularly the self-employed who have been left behind in the furlough or overlooked altogether because they had a baby or somesuch.

Today though I dropped my shit for that of my friend, and now I only have a week left to make my flat inhabitable for the Jethro’s parents. Right now they would die of horror. A week, with the brand new temptation of somebody else’s drama just up the hill in North London.

Time to knuckle down in some way. I’m never sure which job to prioritise first so I prioritise none of them. But with a week left I’ll have to leap to the deadline. Not just try to get into a flat, leave a load of missed calls and go look at a bunch of trees on the Heath.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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