Saturday, January 28, 2006

A tale of contemporary Britain

Mice are in my flat. It's been months and the estate agent's done F.A. about it. Tracking him down over the phone is being a bit of a task, not made any easier by the fact that a managing company (Curry&Partners), the landlord himself, and a pest-control firm are also involved. Two months and the problem seems to be getting worse. The occasional beast dies of poison in the wall cavities, not very pleasant I tell thee. And yet that doesn't solve the root of the problem.

I no longer wish to live in this place, not for the fat "city-centre living" rate that they ask per month. The contract didn't mention I was gonna have any co-tenants, certainly not of the rodent species. So, sure that it's within my right to cut short my tenancy agreement on the grounds of change of circumstances and -more to the point- health & safety, I trot to that wonderful place of free legal advice for everyone, the Council Tax-funded Citizens Advice Bureau, or CAB.

Friday, 1pm. No opening times in view. No "CLOSED"-sign at the booth, no receptionist either . After some procrastination, those waiting learn that the system operate on numbered tickets, a bit like the clap clinic. Except that there's no ticket machine. Apparently it's the receptionist who hands tickets over to you, except that -yes, you were correct- there was no receptionist. Someone shouts for help over the booth. "I'll be there in a few minutes", is the reposte from an invisible receptionist at the back. A few minutes later, she finally re-emerges: "Can I help you?". Ahead of me, a woman utters: "Yes, I was...". The receptionist cuts it short, very matter-of-fact:"We've stopped seeing people for today, sorry". And off she goes, no explanation, no time wasted on explaining opening times and all that jizz. Vanished. Later I will learn from their website that their opening times are 10am-3pm. A poster looms imposing over the waiting room: "Let us know what you think of our service. Pick up a Citizens' Advice Bureau comment form". Guess what? Those forms must be invisible, cos not a single one is on display.

As I cast off, perplexity takes over: is it Britain i live in, or a third world country? No doubt, if I could afford it, I'd pay a solicitor handsome fees to sort it out for me. Then they say money doesn't make a difference. Jizz off.

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