It’s been several weeks. You’ve all but given up hope of ever leaving the hostels. You’ve even made nice with the crazy-next-doors. You’ve consoled yourself that at least they provide entertainment. You no longer have sky because ‘it’s not available to migrate to hostel settings’. You’ve since decided to actively look for work, otherwise you are going to lose your mind and have your children taken from you. You’ve also become very unpopular with the council staff because you have densely populated cyber space with numerous long emails. You’ve also realised that they don’t give a shit that your kids don’t like the hostels.
You’ve developed a strict routine to keep sane; drop off kids at school, walk four miles (in any direction) while thinking, plotting, hoping, imagining, planning and exercise. Go to the hostel (you’ve subconsciously refused to call it home). Clean the room (doesn’t take long), shower and eat. Watch some daytime TV – rest of This Morning and some Jeremy Kyle, “see there are people worse off than me” – another consolation.
Then out of expectation. When life is on long pause. When you can’t remember if you were breathing or holding it. When there was no hope. When the bidding process seems all but pointless!! You get a phone call.
“Hello…” you answer/question without letting yourself hope for anything, rest it’s one of those ‘have-you-had-an-accident-in-the-last-year’ or ‘have-PPI-been-missold’ calls because you swore you’d hunt down the next cold caller, kill them and dance on their belly!! Yes you did.
“This is Louisa-May calling from the council” answered some snooty girl who you instantly fall in love with because ‘from the council’ is the best news you’ve ever heard.
“We have a house for you. How soon can you come to our office?”
It’s impossible to tell what you are saying because the excitement is too much, but you do manage to say you will be there in the next 1 hour. You’d want to be there sooner but unfortunately you can’t bend time. You wish you could be there in one leap but unfortunately you have to take a few buses.
You get there just after lunch. You take a number and wait. Finally your number is called out after what felt like a 65 years’ wait!!!
You sit opposite a woman (couldn’t possibly be the caller) with way too much lipstick and super long nails. You start wondering how she cleans her girlie bits. The thought is enough to induce projectile vomiting, so you stop. You also don’t want to aggravate the woman, who’s showing signs that she doesn’t like you, and she could accuse you of being verbally abused and have you kicked out and arrested. Be nice. Smile through gritted teeth but don’t talk through gritted teeth.
She produces a mountainful of paper work and tells you in a flat voice that the council has placed you in yet another temporary accommodation. You should continue bidding for appropriate housing.
“At least now you have your own shower” she says while smiling those fake British smiles. You have in the meantime gone deaf! You ears can’t hear anything and the lady in front of you is talking in slow motion. You hope you are not having a stroke.
She looks at you like an alien would a human or vice versa whichever is worse. She asks to sign the papers and take the key because your time is up. You oblige. “Keep bidding” she says calmly.
You sign the papers, take the key feeling super deflated and make a beeline for the convenience store across. You buy some things and head to the park, find the nearest bench, crack open a Fanta twist and open the brand new pack of B&H that you just purchased. Lit a fag and yet again – plot!!