So, it has come to this.

Oh, the irony

Here, by way of an update, is the terrible story of the last week, along with some background…..

A couple of months ago, due to a minor administrative mistake, Rhonda and Audrey’s resident visa applications were rejected as invalid, despite our repeated attempts to clarify what the problem was.

A great many wonderful people generously donated money to help us meet the extortionate costs of making the application, for which we are eternally grateful and most of that fee was refunded when the application was turned down.

We have since been communicating with the UKBA and the Home Office via our MP, who offered to help and who had requested that they review our case for an appeal. He told us last weekend that a letter had been written to us on Friday and would arrive this week.

The letter arrived on Wednesday: “right of appeal denied”.

It informed us in no uncertain terms, that they would not consider our case for appeal, as we had failed to register our biometrics on time, (due to them neglecting to point out that we could have done so at any time, on the MULTIPLE OCCASIONS I spoke to them about our identity documents) but we could reapply whenever we liked.

They also pointed out that any new application would likely be turned down, as my wife and daughter have overstayed their visa deadline (whilst waiting for the Home Office to get back to us) and were now considered illegal immigrants.

AND, this Monday, Rhonda’s boss, who knew her visa expired in April and had still happily been employing her since, (while she continued to make all her tax and NI contributions, I might add) announced that he could no longer have her working there and told her to leave until our appeal reference number arrived.

All of this, just two days before our right to appeal was denied.

This effectively cuts our family income in half overnight.

So yesterday we spoke to a lawyer, who didn’t bother to sugar coat the bad news.

To drive the point home that we really are in rather deep shit, he led with this terrifying announcement;

*The UKBA could turn up any time and take my family away to a transit centre, prior to deportation*

Now he had my attention, in fact I think my heart briefly stopped.

Our only options are as follows:

1) They return to the States immediately to a life of destitution and poverty, with the tenuous possibility that I could join them at some distant point in the future somehow.

2) We pay the solicitors £1500 to put our case to the highest appeal court in the land as a judicial review, admit our stupid admin error and plead family life, human rights, etc, which would also mean paying the newly inflated fees, about another £3500, when the application is submitted by the solicitors, hopefully sometime next week.

Even then, the visa would only be granted on a discretionary basis and there is as good a chance as any that they will reject it.

If you have to leave the country as the result of a “rejected” (as opposed to “invalid”) visa application, there is no refund and no return to the UK for ten years.

Fortunately, it’s payday, so we paid the lawyers my last month’s wages this morning and have a phone consultation booked for Monday at 11.00.

Assuming we don’t get a knock on the door before that.

Any crossed fingers, tribal offerings, lucky rabbit’s feet, or general good vibes would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Peace.
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From start to Finnish: The Woolhouse International Rescue service.

Those of you who follow my particular brand of online nonsense will already be aware that I am a huge Twin Peaksfan. You may also remember that this obsession with David Lynch’s extraordinary TV odyssey, led to me being involved in the comedic fellowship of The Woolhouse Boys, a Facebook group set up to celebrate an obscure side-character and his garish knitwear.

{If you are now scratching your head and thinking I’ve lost it completely, GO HEREto find out more}

As I have previously indicated, this merry band of like-minded, friendly geeks and nerds are only too happy to lend a helping hand to other members in times of need, which is one of the reasons I love The Woolhouse so much.

Well at the weekend, I was able to offer a little woolly thinking to a couple of fellow Lynch-obsessives from snowy Finland, who have been making Twin Peaks-inspired short films for some time.

Merja and Tarja sent me a link to their latest project and I suggested a small tweak to the music, saying I’d be happy to help if they needed it.

Long story, short; I offered to mix the soundtrack for them and, since they were happy with the result, I thought it only fair that I shared it with you here.

There are already several other short films on their YouTube channel, so if you like atmospheric, enigmatic audio visual treats, why not pop over and subscribe, especially if you’re a Twin Peaks fan.

Here is the short clip to which I added a small pinch of sonic polishing, so please enjoy DARK DREAM.

That was the week that was…dreadful.

There have been a lot of stories in the news recently about the Windrush generation and the appalling way in which the British government has treated those brave families, who left their homes to help build a better life for themselves and to enrich our society.

The scandal that followed; an attempt to cover up the way our immigration system has failed so many people so catastrophically, is shocking, but sadly not a surprise, especially for those of us who have to deal with it on a regular basis.

Over two months ago, Rhonda and I resumed the brain-melting, soul-destroying process of applying for the renewal of her and Audrey’s resident visas, a very particular form of torture which is becoming more inhumane and unnecessarily incomprehensible each time.

Our original application was posted to the UKBA on March 5th, but not before we discovered an additional charge which wasn’t mentioned until we printed off the forms…

…so we went to their website and retrieved the two personal IHS numbers required for Rhonda and Audrey to access the National Health Service (despite the fact we have been married for three years, during which time Rhonda has paid full tax and national insurance contributions) only to find they cost £500 EACH!

Another thousand pounds we don’t have, on top of the two and a half grand I had only just managed to finance with a bank loan. And we could only complete the form by applying for the numbers and paying for them online, immediately leaving us a grand short for the actual visa application.

Needless to say, that was a very fraught afternoon.

After several heated phone calls and much stressed-out swearing, I posted a ranting status update on Facebook, concerning the injustice of the system in general and the blatant extortion by the UKBA and Home Office specifically, which yielded a suggestion by my cousin to start a GoFundMe campaign.

I know crowdfunding is popular these days, but the idea of begging friends, family and strangers alike for money has never been a pleasant one, no matter what the reason, but desperate times require desperate measures, so I set one up.

With utter astonishment and eternal gratitude, we watched donations come pouring in from around the world; from family and friends old and new, to total strangers and friends-of-friends, we eventually raised just over £900 of the ambitious £2000 goal I’d set, just about covering the extra fees and returning us to square one.

Fortunately, the bureaucrats hadn’t got around to taking payment, using the card details I had supplied with our application, so I was able to top up my account with the donations and then we just waited for news.

Until, that is, a couple of days later, when I got a call from my bank.

I reproduce here for you, one of my Facebook posts from that day, which for those of you with delicate sensibilities, does contain some rather robust language…

***Visa update***

Ok, all you lovely people have overwhelmed us with your generosity and we have finally sent off the application (including my bank card details, so they can take payment when they process the forms) leaving us to wait for their decision, hoping they get round to it soon.

Anyway, I was sitting here, waiting for Rhonda to get home from work last night, when I got a text from the bank;

“Halifax has noticed your Halifax Debit card ending **** was used on 14-03-2018 20:32:31, at ARGOS LTD for £44.99. This payment has not been debited from your account. Please confirm if this transaction was made by you by replying Yes or No. Replying with Yes will NOT cause the payment to leave your account.”

Oh, Fuck!

I rang them immediately and, long story short, they told me there had now been three tries at taking money and they would have to cancel my card, otherwise they couldn’t be responsible for blocking any further fraudulent attempts on my account.

The card that is about to be used to pay for the visas!

Oh, double-FUCK!

So, today I rang the Home Office enquiries line (there is, of course, no way to get in touch with the actual visa application department, that would be too easy) and they basically told me that they couldn’t tell me anything definite, but there are two likely options;

1 – They could contact us and request an alternate payment method (I should have a new card by Monday) after which the application will continue as before.

2 – We may have to reapply from scratch, meaning we’ll need to pay for TWO MORE FUCKING IHS NUMBERS. (they “should” refund the first ones, since we didn’t use them)

All this, AFTER Rhonda and Audrey’s current visas have expired.

So there you have it; the nightmare continues.

All of which brings us up to the last week or so.

Things really couldn’t go any more wrong, that would just be ridiculous…right?

Yeah, right.

Because next come the biometrics; all that personal data which must be reaffirmed each time a visa is renewed.

Here are the bullet points of that fiasco:

– We need our identity documents to apply for the biometrics in person.

– But the UKBA still have them, so I wrote (and rang, and emailed and filled in online forms) to have the documents returned to us.

– The UKBA send us a letter telling us we must apply for our biometrics in ten days or our application will be rejected.

– I ring to explain in great and patient detail (and email and fill in online forms) to “escalate” our request; during which time NOT ONE PERSON says anything about not requiring identification for biometric registration.

– We finally get a package of documents back from the Home Office, minus Rhonda and Audrey’s passports, but including a letter which calmly tells us that, because we haven’t registered our biometrics in time, they now consider our application invalid and that my wife and daughter are now “liable for removal”. That’s the polite term for deportation, in case you’re in any doubt.

– I ring and have a markedly less patient but equally detailed conversation with an immigration robot drone and am informed that we; must make an appeal to the Home Office by post, or apply again, although they are incapable or unwilling to tell us which would be the correct procedure.

– They will refund the price of the visas (less a £50 “administration fee) but apparently not the £1000 IHS charge.

– Rhonda has written to our local MP who has promised to help if he can, as well as sending an appeal letter to the Home Office, asking if we can simply reapply for the visas and biometrics and that they excuse us our unintentional (but perfectly understandable) clerical error.

So now all we can do is wait, anxiously and with no way to tell if we’re going to get a knock at the door, signaling that my family is about to be torn apart.

On top of all that, Rhonda and Audrey were supposed to be in America right now, to welcome their new grandson/nephew into the world, a trip which is currently impossible even if we could afford it (and the government hadn’t retained their passports) because with their immigration status in limbo, they’d never be allowed to return.

And, to really put the rotten cherry on top of the poisoned cake; last week’s bank holiday was ruined by the need to call the police again on the world’s most obnoxious neighbours, who once more seemed intent on very noisily killing each other.

Despite the fact that half the neighborhood was standing outside spectating, or that several other residents had already reported the violent screaming and crashing noises coming from the upstairs windows of our building, neither the police nor their absentee landlord seem prepared to do anything. He even had the fucking cheek to tell our landlady that, “I’m not throwing them out, they’re good tenants, they always pay their rent.”

Leaving us with three options; put up with it, move out, or I let Rhonda have the baseball bat she’s been asking for and then take Audrey for a long walk while her mum dispenses some rough justice.

Option three doesn’t seem a very sensible idea at the moment, given our politically precarious position, so I hope my upcoming summit with the Environmental Health people gives us an alternative avenue to explore.

Which, I hope, goes some way to explaining why I have neglected some of my blogging duties in the last couple of months.

I am hoping that the possibility of long summer days in the garden, away from most of life’s distractions, will allow me more time to blog, promote the newly republished edition of The Wrong Stuff and get back into the swing of all things authorial.

But life does have a habit of getting in the way, so you’ll have to bear with me.

Cosmic Photo prompt.

Late again, but this time with an excuse; we have had a bit of an emergency this weekend and have water pouring (well, dripping fast) through our kitchen ceiling, and we waiting for the upstairs neighbours (yes, those idiots are STILL up there) to sort out a plumber. Hopefully, since their stopcock is, for some reason, in our airing cupboard and I have cut off their supply, that should give them an incentive to get their shit together and sort it out soon.

But meanwhile, let’s sort you out with your prompt for Monday’s edition of K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge, this week chosen by me; Time.

That’s it, just that.

You can interpret that in any way you like and meet back here on Monday to compare photographic notes.

See you then.

*****

To get involved with the challenge, post a photo to your blog on Monday, add a pingback to this post (or to K’lee’s) and don’t forget to tag your post #CosPhoChal.
Alternatively, add a link to your blog in the comments of either mine or K’lee’s post and we’ll come and check out your entry.

Any and all effects, editing, Photoshop, Instagram, morphing, collages or whatever other post production techniques you fancy are permitted, (in fact, they’re actively encouraged!) so get creative and turn your photos into artworks for the Cosmic Photo Challenge.

#CosPhoChal

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Illness, debt, parking fines and other good news.

Today’s SoCS post takes the form of an update on a previous rant and should I manage to crowbar in Linda G Hill‘s prompt, that’ll be a bonus;

” “in other words.” Use the phrase at least once in your post. “

Ok, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Things are looking up.

As I mentioned in this post, it has been an anxious couple of weeks, wondering whether we’d be able to finance Rhonda and Audrey’s upcoming visa renewals, so I was rather nervous when I walked into the bank on Wednesday afternoon.

It didn’t hurt that I’d woken up that morning with a hideous cold; my head appeared to be stuffed with wet cotton wool and it felt like someone had filled my sinuses with glue, so I was experiencing events through a kind of virulent sensory fog, which may have actually taken the edge off the stress.

Anyway, long story, short; after twenty minutes of watching compulsory, cheerfully-voiced warning videos, detailing the dire consequences of not paying back the money they were about to lend me at an extortionate rate of interest, then signing multiple copies of finance agreements, I was the lucky beneficiary of another seven years of debt and, far more importantly, the wherewithal to keep my family on the same side of the Atlantic for another thirty months.

In other words; Mission accomplished.

It was amazing, the difference that successful act of financial negotiation made to my mood for the rest of the week, despite my steadily worsening man-flu and the fact that both Rhonda and I were still working every available shift and barely saw each other until Friday evening, when she had an unexpected night off.

I decided, in deference to my cold and our small monetary victory, that I’d give myself a weekend free of overtime, so Audrey and I went into town yesterday; to trade in some of her old DVDs, buy a game for her Nintendo DS, (a Christmas present designed to coax her attention away from YouTube for a while) and get a battery for my watch.

Having selected a Sims game Audrey had already expressed an interest in and got it half price in exchange for a few old Barbie DVDs, I spotted this gem whilst waiting to pay…

…which, needless to say, I couldn’t resist.

In other words; What a bargain.

Next stop, the jewellers, where I remembered I had a “battery for life” deal on the watch I bought there, my first freebie for the day. Then, as we left I spotted a sale in the clothing store next door, where I picked up a half price winter coat. Not bad, huh?

But it didn’t stop there. Next door to the clothing store is the 3 Store, my phone provider and I thought I was due an upgrade soon, so I just stopped in to check.

“Oh, yes, you’re actually due an upgrade now…Yes, we have a very good deal for existing customers at the moment, too..”

Really? That’s a first, usually they couldn’t care less once they’ve got your money, it’s the new customers who get all the perks.

So, half an hour later, after Audrey had played with every mobile device on display and inspected the huge wall of Instagram photos for cute animal pictures, I walked out with a brand new £400 phone and the aforementioned offer for loyal customers; an £89 pair of Bluetooth headphones, all for free, gratis and no charge.

In other words; Time well spent.

We returned to the car, on the way to pick up my de-kerosene’d work clothes from the laundrette and grab Audrey a take-out from McDonald’s, (an exception I make very rarely, I can’t stand the place, but having two Americans in the house means I occasionally compromise my principles; Audrey claims the chicken nuggets are just not the same anywhere else and Rhonda has a weakness for their strawberry milkshakes) only to see a traffic warden standing over my car, electronic terminal in hand, stylus poised over the screen.

“No no no no no no! Oh bugger, am I late?”

“I haven’t issued it yet…”

I don’t think I properly registered this unheard-of response from a parking nazi council traffic warden before, so I continued to apologise.

“I’m sorry, I got held up in the phone shop, how late am I?

“Ticket says 12.19, by my watch it’s 12.39…I haven’t issued it yet…”

He looked at me over his glasses and actually smiled, as I stood there laden with shopping bags and Audrey watching curiously from behind me, (I’m not certain, but I think his eyes might have even had a bit of a twinkle, but that could be wishful thinking) then he clipped his stylus back into its slot and nodded.

“They don’t pay me any more if I give out more tickets, you enjoy the rest of your day.”

“You, sir, are a truly wonderful man, thank you.”

And off he went, looking happy in his work, probably unaware that he had rescued me from ruining a near-perfect Saturday and helping restore my faith in the goodness of people for a change.

In other words; Things are looking up.

************

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Occupancy extortion occurrence.

For this week’s SoCS post, I thought I’d take another break from fiction and have a quick rant, using Linda G Hill‘s prompt to inspire me;

” “oc.” Find a word that starts with “oc” and use it in your post. Bonus points if you start and end with your post with an “oc” word. “

Yes, I can do that…

Occasional occurrence of occupancy extortion.

Occasionally, you have to accept that the Powers That Be have you over a barrel and you just have to pay the piper when he calls the tune.

Well, we’re almost at that point again; (where does the time go?) when Rhonda and I have to bow to the UK Border Agency’s immigration regulations, go through the hideously complicated process of renewing her and Audrey’s resident visas and try to find the extortionate amount of money they demand in exchange for our continued happiness.

As many of you know, Rhonda and Audrey are American and have only been in the UK since 2014, after we began our unconventional relationship on Facebook, from opposite sides of the Atlantic.

The process of getting them here was bad enough, but it doesn’t end there, oh no. Following the pair of “fiancé visas”, for Rhonda to come here with Audrey in the first place, we had to get resident visas immediately after we got married, which have to be renewed after two and a half years. And it doesn’t come cheap.

Yesterday I went to the library and paid £15.80 to have all 158 pages of the forms printed, that Rhonda will need to fill in for the two of them…

…after I spent the last few days trying to secure an extension on my personal loan, (which was obtained for the aforementioned official extortion last time round) to pay the frankly obscene price of £993 EACH! And that’s just for permission for them to remain here, contribute to society and continue paying the government income tax. While, I might point out, (for anyone who may have accidentally read a Daily Mail article) being totally ineligible for any state benefits whatsoever. Because we also have to jointly meet the income threshold requirements, to make sure we can support ourselves with “no access to public funds”, as it says so bluntly on their visas.

We have to submit this mountain of paperwork without the slightest error or omission, along with the money, for acceptance by some faceless bureaucrat, who has the ultimate say in whether or not our family stays together on the same continent.

No appeal, no refund.

How they justify that ridiculous expense is beyond me, but we’re now aware that their primary concern is to make money, whilst simultaneously making it as difficult as possible for anyone to come here to start with.

Hopefully the next time we have to go through this, two and a half years from now, it will be to grant my family “indefinite leave to remain”, finally giving us peace of mind until we decide/can afford to pay the even more jaw-dropping price to make them full British citizens.

I am constantly amazed at how fortunate I am, to have found these two amazing people by chance, (a nudge from The Universe may have been involved) but it must seem very harsh to them, especially since they have come to love this country, when the system seems intent on breaking the spirit of people whose only wish is to become a permanent occupant.

*************

#SoCS

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

Woolhouse Boys road trip.

You may have spotted that I’m a Twin Peaks fan, you might even have noticed my recent obsession with a certain item of garish knitwear, due to my membership of The Woolhouse Boys, the best group on the internet. If so, then hopefully you’ll be up to date enough with the story to appreciate this seasonal tale of goodwill and friendship.

First, a little background.

Back in March, while the frenzy surrounding Twin Peaks: The Return was still building to fever pitch, I became friends with a very interesting chap with the unlikely name of Kneel Downe.

As an author and fellow Twin Peaks fanatic from the North of England, with whom I share a birthday, along with many other common interests, it was inevitable that Kneel and I would get along like the proverbial house on fire and I subsequently invited him to join the Woolhouse Boys.

To my total lack of surprise, that warm and friendly group of kindred spirits took to Kneel as quickly as I had and it wasn’t long before he became one of the inner circle of genuinely close friends we have all made in the last few months.

So it was just as unsurprising that, when he was going through a really tough few weeks, the Woolhouse rallied round to help.

Kneel suffers from MS and his health can vary wildly from one day to the next, especially when dealing with stressful situations, but despite this, he is always concerned about the welfare of other people and is one of the most compassionate people I know. He was caring for his father, who was seriously ill, meaning Kneel’s health also deteriorated and there were many days that we didn’t hear from him at all, the stress was clearly taking its toll.

Then, on November 6th, we got the sad news that Kneel’s father had passed away.

Which was when the Woolhouse swung into action.

Within minutes of hearing of his loss, Joel and I were getting messages from members all around the world; from here in the UK to all over America, from Europe and even from Australia, everyone wanted to do something for Kneel.

Now, sending round a card for everyone to sign was obviously impractical, given the distances involved, so I suggested anyone wanting to contribute could PayPal me donations, which I would gladly take and present to Kneel, along with all the love and condolences of the boys and girls in the Woolhouse.

Needless to say, donations came in from many of Kneel’s friends and, after the funeral had taken place, I arranged to go up and meet him for the first time last Saturday, taking Audrey with me for company, (because it’s almost impossible to feel down when she’s around) but not before we had another brilliant idea.

Joel and I had been working on a new shirt design, which we were about to roll out to any interested group members, and I’d only just picked up the first prototype when we heard Kneel’s sad news. It immediately seemed obvious that, along with the generous donations from his friends, I should also present him with this small token of our affection.

But how could we make it that little bit more personal, a completely unique gift?

Then I had a flash of inspiration; if I got everyone to send a nice clear photo of their name, black on a white background, I could compile them onto one sheet, invert the colour and have the resulting white signatures printed on the shirt, as if we’d all signed it for him.

That was easy enough to accomplish (although I left the technical stuff to Joel, who works with computer graphics) and I’d have been happy with that, but Joel had other plans afoot.

While I was still on the phone to him, ironing out the fine details, Joel was e-mailing one or two of his famous Twin Peaks cast member friends, asking if they’d be happy to add their names to ours for a good cause.

I can’t, I’m afraid, reveal the three names he delivered to us, but rest assured you would be amazed at who he managed to get to send us an autograph. On top of that, I contacted the wonderful John “Chad” Pirruccello from the show, who had previously been such a good sport about our daft shenanigans and he instantly sent us his name.

{I should point out that all of this happened on Thanksgiving, so I am eternally grateful to all of you who spared the time to get involved, you’re all awesome}

So at six thirty on Saturday morning, Audrey and I set off on an 800 mile round trip to Lancashire, arriving at Kneel’s around lunchtime and presenting him with his extraordinary gift, along with a few baked goodies from Rhonda and all the best wishes of The Woolhouse Boys.

Kneel’s home is a veritable shrine to Dr Who and you can’t turn round without coming face to face with one of the dozens of daleks that adorn almost every flat surface, not to mention the hundreds of DVDs, a Cyberman head on top of a hat stand in the hall and all manner of other memorabilia throughout the house.

I filmed little clips of our journey, editing them together into a short travelogue, WHICH YOU CAN WATCH HERE, including our first meeting with Kneel and, although the actual presentation of his gifts will remain private, here is a redacted version of that fabulous shirt and a shot of us toasting our friendship (a condition impressed upon me by Joel was that I must get a photo of Kneel and I having a pint together and who am I to refuse such a request?).

Please excuse my peculiar eyewear, I wear my varifocal glasses from work for driving and forgot to take them off for the photo.

It was a real pleasure to finally meet Kneel and to see his reaction to the kindness of his global network of new friends, it made me truly proud to be a part of something so positive and supportive.

But I’ve found that this is what The Woolhouse does, it brings people together from all walks of life and it makes them into lifelong friends, I see it happen every day and it is good to know that we have helped one of our own in some small way, by showing him that there is always someone who cares enough to make a difference.

*****

You can explore Kneel’s amazing Virulent Blurb universe AT THIS LINK.

The people upstairs.

Ever since Rhonda and Audrey finally arrived from America, three years ago this week, we have lived on the ground floor of a small block of flats.

It is located on a housing estate built in the late ’80s, at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, ideally situated for Audrey’s school, Rhonda’s job and local shops. We have our own garden and, until recently, perfectly decent neighbours in the other three flats in the block.

When I originally rented number 14, the flat we now live in, (back when Rhonda and I were still battling the labyrinthine bureaucracy of immigration agencies, on opposite sides of the Atlantic) we were unaware that the landlord was going to sell it six months later, a problem we solved by moving to number 16 next door.

For the next two years we lived next door and got on fine with the nice Hungarian family above us, became friends with Meg and Adam, the young couple who eventually moved into number 14, (after considerable renovation from the state it was in when we lived there) and had no problems with the other upstairs neighbour, who we hardly ever saw or heard from.

Then, in May of this year, when Meg and Adam moved out, we went back across the hall to number 14, due to a very tempting offer from the owner. We had got to know her when she was doing the renovations, (the young couple were the owner’s daughter and her boyfriend) and she wanted someone she could trust to live there; meaning we got a fully refurbished flat, lower rent, no deposit and a nicer garden.

Sound too good to be true?

It is.

Almost as soon as we moved back, it was clear that the pair who had moved into the flat above since we were last there (see photo) were not exactly in thrall to domestic bliss, in fact they seemed to be in an almost constant state of war with each other.

She was heavily pregnant, he was very obviously selling drugs to a steady stream of unpleasant visitors, (which they all stood and openly smoked on the front step, right outside our door, making the stairwell and entryway permanently stink of weed) and they often had long screaming rows, which made Audrey very nervous and resulted in the police being called more than once.

In fact on one occasion, soon after their baby was born, I was already at work at 7 a.m. when Rhonda called to say the woman upstairs was hanging out of the window, screaming “Somebody help me!” so she’d rung the police and they’d arrived, broken up the fight and hauled away The Twat (as I now habitually refer to him) while she screamed that he should never come back, etc etc etc.

Already long story, short; this has happened multiple times over the last few months, with him coming back the next day and the cycle begins all over again.

Sometimes the fights are so violent that we can hear them dragging each other around upstairs and hear every hoarsely screamed obscenity, along with the poor, doomed baby adding its own terrified protests to the infernal din from above.

During my recent whiplash holiday from work, I was here for the latest police visit, informing them that this was the nth time this had happened and what were they going to do about it, because these two lunatics were ruining the lives of everyone within earshot which, given their prowess at bellowing and screaming, was by now quite a radius.

“It’s a domestic, there’s nothing we can do unless a law is broken, speak to the landlord” is the standard police response to this type of enquiry, so once they’ve allegedly restored the peace, they just bugger off and leave us all to it.

Again.

So, having already complained several times to our landlady, who passed on our concerns to the landlord of the flat upstairs (which he rents privately, not through a letting agent, otherwise they’d be gone by now) I finally spoke directly to him on Monday, to find out what he was going to do about his Neighbours From Hell.

Now, I’d mistakenly been under the impression that he would be aghast at hearing of his tenants’ continuing bad behaviour and be keen to see the back of them asap, but no, no such luck.

He initially told me that he’d spoken to The Twat and that he’d promised there’d be no more arguments or noise.

I respectfully enquired when it was he’d acquired this assurance and he told me it was the day before.

I politely informed him that Mr and Mrs Twat had in fact woken Rhonda and Audrey up with a high volume slanging match at 5 o’clock that very morning and therefore, with the greatest of respect, The Twat was talking bollocks.

I also informed him, with nothing but the most delicate diplomacy, of course, that my wife and daughter were regularly subjected to frightening and distressing episodes of violence and that it was his responsibility to do something about it.

What, I enquired gently, the fuck are you going to do about getting rid of these two scumbags, (my diplomatic repertoire was beginning to wear thin at this point) who are making my family’s life a misery?

His answer was; “If at any time you or your family ever feel threatened or nervous in any way, you should of course call the police.”

I pointed out to him in a friendly tone that we had done that, several times, which was why I was ringing him; to tell him he had a pair of menaces to society living in his property and wouldn’t it better for everyone if he evicted them and replaced them with ordinary, decent human beings?

To which he gave this extraordinary reply; “I’m not going to evict them on your say so, I’ll evict them when and if I think the time is right.”

Wait…what?

He’s only going to evict them if I stop complaining that he needs to evict them?

I smell spineless bullshit.

So I did ring the police, again, to ask their advice on a matter they obviously don’t really give a shit about. I even highlighted the child protection issue and they gave me some crap about them “always filling out an at risk form when a child is present at a reported disturbance”.

They told me to see a solicitor, or go to to the Citizens Advice Bureau, or (and this was when I softly hung up the phone) maybe I could try talking to the landlord…?

I did copy out all the landlord’s phone numbers several times and handed them out to the neighbours, making sure they definitely didn’t ring him every five minutes if they heard even slightly raised voices from upstairs.

I guess we’ll just have to wait until he decides the time is right to do something about it and hope his cowardly prevarication isn’t at the cost of the life of mother or child.

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