This is a tale of two boys, actually, they’re in their late 30s so should be called men, but I just can’t bring myself to do that.
They both took a room each in an HMO late last year – Gareth came down to be near his girlfriend, but she sensibly didn’t want him living with her, and Kurt upgraded from a caravan on a farm. Both fitted my profile of nice blokes, good personal references, financially unconfirmed but eligible for LHA.
All started well: they found common ground in their weed smoking, had both received a bollocking off me and the threat of a police visit if I ever smelt the stuff again. Their mutual regard for me as a bitch left them scratching their heads at my sniffer dog talents even though they couldn’t “smell nufink”.
Kurt did well in getting his claim for LHA sorted and paying his top up on time so I haven’t seen much of him, but his complexion is evidence that he divides his time between being shut away with his computer and bunking at friends whilst becoming paler, thinner and struggling to hold a conversation.
After Gareth lost his job and his girlfriend, he spent most of his time crying but finally got round to claiming JSA and LHA. Last Friday I accompanied him to the Housing Benefit offices to go through his paperwork as he couldn’t work out if he’d been paid, how much or what all the letters he was clutching meant. As it’s Easter holidays, I left the kids at home in front of the TV with a pack of biscuits (tenant problem solving is no longer a novelty to them unless it involves the police) and promised to be back within half an hour.
Gareth and I registered then sat down to fill out his DHP form (Discretionary Housing Payment – good time to do this as it’s the beginning of the financial year) and I completed the Safeguard Form (to have payments made direct to me as he was 8 weeks in arrears). He made such a fuss about the paperwork, chewed my pen to pieces and couldn’t stop crying and moaning “Why has my life come to this? It ain’t fair, I try hard, everyone hates me, nobody loves me, etc. etc.” Actually, he didn’t say the last bit but you get the picture. In fact, he was making such a noise and I was getting so cross telling him to pull himself together and to save the tears for someone who hasn’t had to listen to him day in day out for the last couple of months that the Housing Benefit agent came over to ask if I was harassing him!
Paperwork filled in, he then got into my car uninvited and started on AGAIN. I gave him a pack of tissues, suggested we drove to the bank to find his LHA payments which had definitely been made and I needed to check on my kids (by now I’d been away for almost 2 hours) who hadn’t realised I’d gone and could they have the remaining custard creams for lunch?
Kurt called me whilst I was waiting to say that Gareth had threatened him the night before, accusing him of breaking a computer so he was going to London for a few days as he feared for his life. I told him he should have contacted the police if it was that bad and would drop in when they were both at home to sort this out. He then texted “Thanks for your usual calm, level headed approach! Also Gareth told me you thought it was me trying to get in that cupboard. It wasn’t!” [the locked cupboard with the telephone line and router]
Shortly after, I received another text from Kurt:
“He [Gareth] was calm when I was there, tried to ask him to leave me alone by text, a veiled threat and some abuse and psychotic crap which I will show you later. Had to leave my computer there unfortunately. I won’t be back till Weds now. Tbh I’ll be looking to get away from him asap just don’t have the money at the mo.”
A couple of days later:
“Just got back to Gareth stinking the kitchen out with weed and now he’s refusing to give me back my phone charger he borrowed because he is convinced that I have broken his computer, which he was convinced I did before he ever turned it on conveniently. Anyway, hope you’re doing better than me!”
A couple of minutes later:
“He just did the intimidation thing again “Ohhh Kurt, you’re using my pan. Only joking course you can use it….yeh, but don’t use my stuff again” he ain’t been out of prison that long and my feeling is he’s on his way back. Didn’t know he had a pan. I’m literally scared stiff to come here, Alice told me today she is too cos of the noise. I’m working on staying at friends”
I asked why he thought Gareth was going to prison as I hadn’t realised he only came out last year and must have fibbed on his Tenant Information Form. I won’t incriminate Gareth further as I’m sure it’s a storm in a teacup but the rest of the text read:
“He’s nice enough when he doesn’t flip. There will never ever by any mutual ground between me and that psychotic bully”.
During this text conversation I was actually at the house changing a lightbulb- I only found out it had tripped the RCD because the tenants said the TVs hadn’t worked for 24 hours! I took the opportunity to talk to Alice, who was fine but fed up of the atmosphere between the boys. I then spoke to Gareth who, for once didn’t smell of weed and he asked why his ears were burning, was I talking about him and proceeded to gossip about Kurt.
Several calls from Gareth and texts from Kurt today bitching about each other and I’ve had to let my mobile battery run out for the sake of my sanity.
After thinking about it, I’ve decided to let them play this one out between themselves, see where their individual paranoia’s take them. I’ll keep talking to the other tenants but really feel that they’d be happier if I stuck THEM in front of the telly with a pack of biscuits!