A day from the diary of an Advisory Service for Squatters Volunteer.
Squall 5, Oct/Nov 1993, pg. 20.
Someone rang up today to leave the address of an empty property. He had a slight West Country burr and one of those voices which you assume must belong to the late-middle-aged; a wee bit weather-worn. An unusual type, you might think, to sympathise with squatters. It transpired that his in-laws, one ninety the other eighty one, had just been forced out of their London flat by the landlord and the caller wanted someone to squat the place so that this upstanding Rachmanite member of the community might not be left with an empty property on his hands.
“He’s one of those, what I call, ‘Westminster spivs’,” he said, though the flat itself was situated somewhere west of Westminster.
The tactic of the landlord, respectable burgess of wherever it may be, would have made even Peter Van Hoogstraten envious. The husband, who used a Zimmer frame, and the wife, who was deaf, had been so harassed and bullied by their socially-minded padrone that they had finally decided to move out and spend their few remaining years with their son-in-law in the relatively stress-free environment of Bath. The final straw had come when the landlord had somehow managed to get the gas supply disconnected in the middle of winter. (This sounded faintly illegal although it may have been one of those tenancies where the landlord is responsible for services like gas and electricity.)
Apparently, this paragon of civic virtue wanted the old codgers out so that he could do up the gaff, get some yuppies in and earn some serious dosh. I' m sorry - let me rephrase that. He had, of course, wanted to remove his ageing tenants to a place of accommodation better suited to their needs, carry out some elegant restoration work and contribute, in however modest a fashion, to the market- driven rejuvenation of the housing sector in his area.
I took the address of this now-empty flat with details of how to get in without breaking anything. I doubt if anyone squatting it would get very long. Even if, as the caller assured me, the owner didn’t have the wherewithal to do up the property just yet, the landlord is not likely to be slow in evicting squatters if he showed such admirable haste in helping his tenants to leave London. But it would be nice if someone did squat the place - just for the crack.
The owner, no doubt a bastion of the local community, would, in such an instance, be just the sort of ‘victim’ the Government is seeking to protect in eliminating the ‘evils’ of squatting.
Squatting ASSpects - A day from the diary of an Advisory Service for Squatters Volunteer - Squall 4 - April/May 1993.