So we moved house. It’s taken a huge effort, much pain, angst, swearing, late nights and a year’s worth of takeaways ... some of dubious quality and nutritional value ... some downright icky (Doner Kebab with the works, and no beer involved ... who would have thought it possible?), but we are moved and the cheque for the equity is in the post. I’ll take moment to decry the shite institution of soliciting (solicitors). They cocked up our final deeds forms, so we hadn’t signed them for the transfer day, this meant no money was forthcoming on the day ... but we had paid for an electronic transfer £35.00 + Vat in with the fees. Because we didn’t use that facility on the day of sale it has expired and they, the solicitors who “fucked up” wanted another £35.00 +Vat to do it all over again. You’re saying ... but if they “fucked up” then don’t they owe you an electronic transfer for free? And I say “in our world they do”, they say “Take a flying one at the moon”. Soliciting; the word for what prostitutes do on street corners ... they to my mind are the more noble profession, and we have to wait a week for a cheque to clear.
They say a fool and his money are easily parted. Sometimes I think they were referring to Amanda and I when they coined that phrase. In preparation to move into my brothers we had to spend some money tidying up and decorating ... a couple of hundred quid on materials. My brother hasn’t looked after the place and seems not to know what to do with it from one year to the next; this has cost him a relationship. His lack of motivation or care for his own home means that after twelve years, we have just replaced his carpets ... the ones that were there when he moved in, another six hundred quid, and on the Sunday after we moved in we went to B&Q and coughed another four hundred quid on light fittings, a toilet seat, and shower screen ... because shower curtains are shite and because I have pursauded my brother not to take the short term quick sell option on his truly enormous flat to the first person with a pile of readies. So he can shift himself to Sweden in the hope that the grass is greener there than here ... this road has been travelled before and it didn’t end well ... I wish him the best of luck for try two, but am firmly of the opinion that an insurance policy is in order. That being a fabulous flat in the dark heart of Southend on Sea. Said flats deposit being paid for by now long dead grandparents and great grandparents.
It’s not so much that I care for my brothers welfare (clearly I do a bit), it’s the principle, it’s the fact that in these “ard times”, we all got a leg up onto the property ladder by dint of the hard work of our forebears. And that shouldn’t be squandered in foolishness ... says he who just sold a house to go travelling, though Amanda and I have something to return to.
I feel today as I sit here in his enormous first floor flats lounge with windows on two sides (end of terrace, 8 minutes from the station, 8 minutes from the high street, 400yds from the seafront), that we, Amanda and I have stepped out of last year’s frying pan, into this year’s fire.
I won’t see a penny back from my elder brother, he’s skint, but I will make my stay here tolerable, because I don’t like living in shit, and I will honour (though that word seems a bit lofty) my grandparents hard work through the early to mid part of the last century when they scrimped and scraped through two world wars, a depression and in the case of my great grandparents (on my mothers side) the loss of the mother while the children were very young. Of my fathers family practically nothing is known, he was illegitimate and adopted shortly after birth.
The fire we have stepped into, is another round of decorating, plastering, electrical works etc. My brother has managed to get himself in hock with GE Capital Home Finance, who appear from the letters I have read to be regretting lending money on the one hand while trying to use bullying tactics to get “elder” brother to re-finance both a mortgage and a loan secured against the flat to re-schedule his debt ... I’d love to know what the loan money went on, he doesn’t drive, own a car, or for that matter have enough furniture to fit out his own home ... if I’d borrowed thirty grand and secured it against my home, I’d have something to show for it.
The plan now, if I/we can pull him back from the brink is to decorate the place to a fairly high standard, fix the ruined kitchen, fit light fittings that don’t look like they belong in a slum (bare bulbs on single strands of flex ... except the loo which does have a shade), and in the case of the bathroom, just the exposed terminals where a light once was. And when all this is done get in a decent estate agents, and get the place rented out to the highest bidder.
The problem is of course that, he lives in the area I defined in the previous post, to whit the rough bit of town that should be the cool heart of modern Southend on Sea. In an ideal world, everyone would suddenly realise what a great place this could be, spruce themselves up, whistle a gay old tune summon the bluebirds the rabbits and the deer, old brock the badger and some cheeky scamp squirrels and set to with brooms, mops and buckets and give the place (all of the York Road and Southchurch area) a spring clean fit for a fairytale princess ... However I have more chance of winning the lottery than I have of instilling civic pride and sense of ownership in my brother let alone an entire community that seems to be equal parts, entrenched locals maintaining a thin red line, some form of student looking body (though I suspect it is just a look, and really just a cover for copious weed smoking and looking like crusties), a fairly visible tattooed chav like community of underage mums and dads (underage as in should have learnt something and got a job before making more people and sponging off the state ... see previous post), and finally the mixed bag of foreign nationals, trying hard not to be confused with the previous two bodies of people (crusties and chavs), but being let down horrifically by the Eastern European man/men who think a gathering on the only bit of green nearby with a four pack of Kestrel Lager each, equals a modern seaside picnic ... bless their cotton socks, they aren’t actually doing anything wrong per se, they just look untidy and a bit intimidating ... though if you nod hello they all respond in kind genuinely.
So the mission to coin a phrase is to polish a turd, put perfume on a pig and hopefully get this place, that is so close to all the amenities a modern city commuter wants, station, seaside, nightlife, a very nice “outside of town” retail park, and in places a very trendy happening music scene top dollar rent. And in doing so, save elder brother from blowing his only foothold in the country and his only chance of ever owning his own home eventually from the fuckers who preyed on the weak and the stupid and played such a big part in creating the two tier society of have lots and have nots that we live in today. And by blows ensuring that if his mission to Sweden goes pear shaped that he can at least return to something, rather than nothing and no chance of getting anything; in the harder hearted Conservative future (which I can’t say displeases me), that would see a near or beyond fifty something man with fuck all to show for his free education, and thirty years before the mast, just cut adrift. He would be given short shrift by those agencies supposed to look after those that could fall through the net (single white are allowed to fall through, they don’t count). And my younger brother sister and I could do very little more for him, as we have commitments of our own already.
I keep looking skywards to the one I try my very best not to believe in and ask for miracles, and here I am again ... there is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.