H. stayed up all night, watching the election results on television. I’d had an exhausting day, so collapsed into bed at around 11 pm. At 5 a.m., I woke up and went to the living room. “David Cameron is staying,” H. said. I didn’t reply for fear of waking myself up totally. I stumbled back to bed. On some level, I was hoping that it had been a dream. That when I’d finally wake up a couple of hours later, I could laugh about it over breakfast.
That didn’t happen. What happened was the confirmation of five more years of our country continuing on its downward spiral. I am only just beginning to snap out of my state of shock, of disbelief.
I am not and have never been politically-minded. I don’t understand politics and don’t feel sufficiently informed. I keep up with political news for the same reason some people follow the weather forecast. From a self-protection instinct.
Basically, I don’t understand how politicians think, or how the political machinery works. I don’t understand the real reasons behind politicians’ decisions. Frankly, I don’t care – and I don’t see why I should. The proof of the pudding is in the visible results of their decisions, and I can only truly see the result as it affects the people around me, and – let’s be frank about it – me.
My partner and I have had to move to Norwich because we could no longer afford London rents. We’re not the only ones. Rents in London have rocketed to an obscene level, and are disproportionate to the average London salary. Meanwhile, according to The Londonist, 61% of new London properties are bought by investors. Most of these investors are foreign and do not buy these properties for either living in them or letting them, but simply as an asset. Parts of London are increasingly becoming like a ghost town. I recently read an article about a woman who, after living most of her life in Notting Hill, was moving out because she felt uncomfortable living almost alone on her street after all the other properties had been sold to foreign investors who kept them empty. Landlords get away with charging exorbitant rents for places so small, they’re unfit to be lived in. In response to the plight of so many Londoners who are having to leave their families and friends and move away, one Tory MP said that if we couldn’t afford to leave in London, then we should get “on the trains and up to Manchester.”
Honestly, how dare he?
I don’t blame the investors, foreign or local. It is their right to do as they please with their capital. I blame our government for allowing this state of affairs. Is London to become a gated community for the super rich?
How much longer can you bear this?
When you rent a flat in the UK, most letting agents require proof of regular employment. If you’re freelance, they ask you either for an accountant’s report or to pay six months rent in advance. At the end of the six months, the process starts anew. Proof of regular employment, accountant’s report… or six months rent in advance. You then have to sign a document which is, in effect, your own eviction notice, where you guarantee to move out after six months. Oh, and if you want to fix extra picture hooks in the wall, you have to tell the letting agent exactly how many, and wait for the landlord to give permission.
How much longer can you bear this?
My eighty-year-old mother has been in and out of hospital and has had at least three spinal procedures. She is in constant pain. A few weeks ago, her pain got suddenly much more acute. She went to A & E and, after several hours’ wait, was X-rayed, told there was nothing amiss, and sent back home at eleven o’clock at night. For all her practically begging for an MRI scan, they didn’t do one. A few days later, getting worse, she was once again admitted to A & E. She stayed there for ten days before an MRI scan was finally done. She asked for a second pillow for her bed. The nurses said they didn’t have another one. During the ten days, one of her consultants kept sending word that she should be sent home because there couldn’t possibly be any more collapsed vertebrae. Clearly a psychic, since he formed the judgement without actually having seen her since her admission. But not a very good psychic. The MRI, when it was finally carried out, showed that, once again she had a collapsed vertebra. They operated on her spine on the Thursday and discharged her on the Friday.
I noticed the other day, that there’s a new response in vogue when you ask for anything to be done. Be it leaving a message with a doctor’s secretary, asking the doctor to call you, asking a junior doctor to find out who made such-and-such a decision regarding something, or even asking a sales assistant if they have in stock the shoes of your choice in a 5 1/2.
This response is: I can’t guarantee it.
People say it almost as a knee-jerk reaction. Before they even say they’ll try accommodating you. What is the matter with everyone in this country? Why is everyone so afraid of taking responsibility? Of standing up and being counted? Are we becoming a nation of evasive cowards?
They say if you throw a frog into a pot of hot water, it will leap right back out. But if you put it into cold water, and turn up the heat, you can boil it to death.
I don’t care under which government all this started. I just wonder how much longer you can bear all this.
I’m at the end of my tether.