Sunday, 18 December 2011


One of the problems with being a live-in landlord is that occasionally one of your tenants proves to be a complete cunt.Usually when someone moves in they’re a friend, a friend of a friend or someone you have met, vetted and judged to be of sound mind. Occasionally, however, you are hoodwinked into employing a real fucking idiot as your latest housemate. And so it proved with Sarah (I’ll withhold her surname for fear of legal action).

She turned up to my ‘interview’ looking thoroughly respectable: petite, well dressed and elfin with a cut-glass accent. Not only that, but she brought a thoroughly charming and lovely friend with her. The fact that they felt there was safety in numbers initially disarmed me before I realised how daunting it might be renting a room from a strange man. What sensible girls. What great tenants they would surely make. I offered Sarah the room.

Initially, all was well. She largely kept herself to herself, but was occasionally chatty and often rather funny. This honeymoon period, however, was not to last long.
After the initial ‘getting to know you’ period it rapidly became apparent that Sarah’s conversational specialities were twofold: herself and Arsenal football club. Sadly, her football expertise extended only to the Gunners’ ‘Invincibles’ season and no further. Her take on the modern Arsenal midfield was ill informed and idiotic. Thankfully she raised the subject only on the rare occasions that she ran out of things to say about herself.

Never has a human being been so self-obsessed. What I do not know about Sarah’s family history really isn’t worth knowing. She opened up in a way which was surprising, inappropriate and (at least initially) intriguing. I quickly learned about her family feuds, her mother’s long battle with MS, her rejection from the family home and various other things which one might have expected to find out eventually from someone you were close to – but not immediately from someone you barely knew.

She had an uncanny knack to turn any conversation to herself. She linked the problems and trials of TV characters to her own life story, put herself in the centre of any traumatic story and hijacked even the most innocent conversations before turning them into diatribes about how the world was turning against her and how she was constantly being victimised by society/employers/individuals/anyone/everyone.

Eventually, I stopped talking to her. It was the only solution to her interminable self-obsession. Without the oxygen of publicity she would suffocate. Except she didn’t. Because she didn’t give a shit whether you were listening or not. She simply wouldn’t stop.

At the time my other tenants were boys. And football fans. It was a period where we really didn’t value from our Sky subscription: if we watched football in the house she would join us. This situation was deeply unpalatable. So we went out.

Her footballing expertise seemed to have been derived purely from a solitary season of watching Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Sol Campbell brushing aside all challengers as Arsene Wenger marshalled his team to an unbeaten Premier League season in 2003/04. Her expertise on this particular starting XI could not be questioned. Her expertise on Arsenal or the wider world of football outside of this particular campaign was negligible.

Watching football with her was like having root canal without anaesthetic whilst being stomped in the testicles with stiletto heels. She was clueless. Her myopic view of her club was amongst the most one-eyed I’ve ever known. Nobody in a claret shirt could be criticised. Even the most objective comment could incur her screeching, squealing wrath. After seeing Cesc Fabregas almost smash a ball into his own net from 18 yards, Andy Gray observed (quite reasonably) that the Spaniard had made ‘a hash of the clearance’. He had. It was atrocious and he was lucky not to have recorded an OG. This is not how Sarah saw it. She howled that Gray was biased against her club, part of a media conspiracy against the Gunners (when at the time the press was practically ejaculating over Wenger, Pires, Ljunberg et al’s every move) and part of the smear campaign against her beloved club. This was typical of her idiocy.

It was with some relief that we learned she’d bagged herself a boyfriend. That he was a complete prick made no difference. At least he’d ensure she spent less time at home. Her lack of social life was becoming a concern – not least because I was sick of seeing her pubic hair as she wandered around the house in low-slung jeans.

She threw herself wholeheartedly into the relationship. I couldn’t have been more pleased. Except when it started to go tits up. I’d be regaled with tales of woe, asked my opinion on their sex life. I didn’t care. I just wanted her to pay the rent and shut the fuck up.

She did. As the relationship began to intensify and unravel (often simultaneously) she practically disappeared. She stopped sitting in the living room. She ate in her bedroom. She was rarely seen – her en suite bathroom ensured that she rarely ventured into communal areas of the house. I was not overly concerned. She was paying the rent. But then she wasn’t. She was made redundant.

This seemed to intensify her insular behaviour. She ate less, was seen less but smoked more. Having been told she couldn’t partake in the house, she used to pop outside for cigarettes. This changed as she started hanging out of her bedroom window to smoke instead. I was content to let her do this initially – anything to avoid talking to her. But as the stench from her increased consumption began to creep down the stairs I felt it necessary to confront her. She apologised profusely.

But the stench remained. And the crockery disappeared. Over a period of time plates and bowls become increasingly hard to come by. They weren’t dirty. They weren’t anywhere to be seen. Had someone hosted a Greek plate-smashing party whilst I’d been out? The lads had no idea. I certainly wasn’t responsible. So I asked Sarah.

She explained that she’d lent them to her boyfriend as he was hosting a dinner party. This was bullshit. Her well-to-do feller ran his own software company and clearly had no need for our cheap-as-chips Ikea plates. I smelled a rat. I smelt something more disturbing than a rat when I surreptitiously stuck my head around her bedroom door. It was like Sodom and Gomorrah.

I knew full well that she was becoming increasingly strange. But I couldn’t have anticipated what lurked within her room. Almost every plate in the house was stacked on a filthy surface. Mould spilled over their edges. Empty Lilt cans literally overflowed with cigarette butts. The backings from Tampons littered the floor. There were full bin-bags of indeterminate detritus everywhere. There was no room for her in her own bed. It was a health hazard.

I knew I shouldn’t have gone in her room without telling her. So I fabricated a tenuous excuse to cross her threshold and conduct an ‘inspection’. It would be a gross understatement to say that she shit herself. Her worry failed to ensure that she had tidied her room in time.

With just seconds until my arbitrary deadline she barged through the front door, bolted up the stairs and attempted to clean up her cess-pit in double quick time. It was a futile attempt. She gave a cursory wipe to her formerly shiny surfaces, shuttled some black bags to the wheelie bin and shoved all the other shite under her duvet. Not under her bed. Under her fucking duvet.

It was the final straw. She hadn’t paid her rent, her room was seriously endangering the lives of my other tenants and her stench was beginning to seep into the walls. I kicked her out. It took weeks to remove the traces of her: her unwashed hair was embedded in the soft furnishings; her excrement crusted lavatory resisted litres of bleach; her yellowed walls required two layers of paint.

Of course, stories such as these are often embellished and exaggerated for effect. Not this one. The photographic evidence is below.

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