Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Dangers of Reading the Telegraph and Other Cautionary Tales.

I wish Richard Bloody Levinson would stop reading The Telegraph. It just encourages him. No wonder his Housing Officer has gone off on long-term sick leave. She emailed me minutes before she left her desk in despair, to tell me that just the sight of his name in the sender line of yet another email had become sufficient to give her severe palpitations.

This afternoon, he sends me seventeen emails, all with this link attached. In the first one, he wants to know why he can't get a housing transfer when "these bloody Somalis can get away with a million pound house on benefits, just because they've got so many children?" He obviously hasn't even registered that the Somalis in question are apparently housed in private accommodation. Dingbat. Northwick Council's own HQ probably isn't worth a million pounds!

Then he reiterates his long-standing complaint about why he and his girlfriend can't be expected to stay in their lovely two-bedroomed council flat in East Cross, because of the stress caused by "living amidst the common herd." He says that his girlfriend has now developed "a nasty skin condition" as a result. The other sixteen emails have no text, but simply a series of photos attached, all showing evidence of said nasty skin condition. On every part of the body you can imagine. And probably parts you can't - all in unrelenting close-up. Repulsive. The man must have a ten-pixel camera at the very least. I wonder if Richard's girlfriend realises that it's more likely to be the stress of living with someone as pompous as he is that's causing her rash?

I have hundreds of genuinely-needy constituents on the waiting list for housing who would kill to have his flat, but Richard claims he needs "a three-bedroomed house in the country, to avoid the need to live close to uncouth neighbours." Up 'til now, I've always relied upon the argument that, as Richard doesn't have any kids, he doesn't actually need a three bedroomed council house but, thanks to the bloody Telegraph, any such comment is now likely to infuriate him even further. I am sorely tempted to fake an out-of-office reply, referring enquiries to Greg - who is even more annoyed by this story than is Richard. But that would only lead to disaster. I end up replying that I will forward his enquiry to the Housing Department, but that I regret that his attachments were too large to open. Hopefully that'll stop him sending me any more vile skinflicks.

In the evening, I have nothing whatsoever to do, after I have cooked and eaten beans on burnt toast. I have no company either, as both Connie and Josh are out. I am at such a loose end that I decide to phone Dad. I haven't spoken to him for a while anyway.

"Ah, Molly. Glad I caught you," he says. Does he really not know that I phoned him?

"Why?" I say.

"Well, I'm off tomorrow morning," he says, as if I should have known.

"Off where?"


There is a long silence, and then Dad steps in to fill it.

"I told you," he says.

"Er, no - you didn't."

"Well, I don't really want to go," says Dad.

"Oh, yeah?" Does he really think I am that stupid?

"No. It's my mate, see. He booked it, and he doesn't want to go by himself. I can't really afford it, but I don't like to let him down."

The trouble with Dad is that he's like The Boss. He actually believes the stuff he says. This renders arguing with him entirely pointless, even when you can prove he's talking out of his arse.

"Got to go," says Dad. "Haven't finished packing yet. Take care of yourself. Byee!"

Before I know it, I am listening to a dialling tone. Good God. Wonder if Dinah knows? I'm not telling her. More to the point, does Mum know? Thank God Question Time's on in a minute. Politics seems more appealing than real life, all of a sudden.


  1. I was going to question this on the grounds of suitability, as suitability is not just about a minimum standard, it's also about not exceeding what is needed.

    To the people who won't interpret that as I do, imagine the school run. A parent drives their children to and from school, but needs a new car. What is suitable for this? The small Nissan Micra? A Toyota Yaris? No, this parent, just for the school run, as someone else is paying for it, deems the Bugatti Veyron suitable. Yes, I would very much like to use one for the school run, but it's really not suitable for that. It's like finding an Olympic sprinter and hiring her to post your letters in the postbox at the end of the road every morning. Yes, I would very much like that too.

    However, away from the analogies, as the family has more than enough children to fill the rooms, that covers suitability.

    I also can't question it on needs, after all, the issue of whether the family really needed a house nearer the shops and nearer whichever school the children go to is rendered moot by the fact that it's not against their needs to be there. I do not believe that avoiding the bus or living in a richer area is really a need that is meant to be covered by the housing law, but still, as they have so many children, and as the council are obliged to pay for the private property ...

    Yes, if it has sufficient rooms for the size of the family it simply needs not to be unsuitable for their other needs, which given that most houses are designed and located suitably for people's general needs, will frequently be the case. Not always, but let us skip the exceptions, as this is just a comment.

    No, what I would question is the fact that the council appear to be paying almost double what the property was advertised for, to an associate of a friend of the tenant.

    If I were to try such a con, I'd be locked up. Still, that would mean not only free accommodation but also free food, so it's a win/win situation.

    Yours anonymously,
    near Crewe (or, if not, in England anyway).

  2. Thank you for your lengthy and considered comment. Might I suggest that you raise these concerns with your own MP? As I frequently have to explain to The Boss, there is a Parliamentary Protocol which prevents Members of Parliament from taking up issues on behalf of the constituents of other Members ;-)