The silence was deadly. The only sound I could hear was the rising heartbeat in my chest.
The Landlady strode out of the kitchen. She looked down at the ground and pretended to look tearful, her eyes glazing over. She exclaimed to the ceiling, her arms out wide, as if summoning a god.
Her actions were so choreographed, I felt like she was acting in an awkward GCSE adaption of Macbeth.
What caused her overreaction you asked? I had broken her ultimate house rule. It was so bad, so rotten and so completely rebellious of me, that she had no choice but to eject me from her house. Forever.
She turned to me, her face a blend of menace with fake tears
“Rupert… you need to find somewhere else to live.”
Shit! How did this happen? More importantly, what was I going to do? I must warn you, the following tale is completely true:
Four Weeks Earlier
My current contract was up in the student house from hell (read this) I needed to find a house quickly. It was on, like Donkey Kong.
Storming onto Spareroom.com, I found a room, mere minutes away. Advertised by a ‘flatmate‘, it turned out she was the Landlady. I won’t mention her name in case she destroys me – for revenge based on the events below.
This room was actually in a small hotel, which permanently had a ‘no vacancy’ sign on the door. Confused tourists would knock on the door asking for a room. It was bizarre arrangement, where permanent people would pay rent. I should have referred them to the Bates Motel – it would have been safer.
Visiting with friends, we were greeted by the Landlady, who wore a blue T-Shirt and baggy joggers. This was her daily outfit – the Primark TV Dinner collection. She spoke with an upper class accent. She looked the type who would enjoy deflating lost footballs, and whose love life probably revolved around reading exotic Mills and Boon novels. She bizarrely asked if my friends were my bodyguards.
Looking at the room, the double bed took up the the whole space- I had to roll across the bed like an action movie star if I just wanted to use the toilet.
We settled in the living room which was impeccably tidy. An England flag adorned the windows and peculiar African dolls with extremely high golden necks resided in the corner.
Landlady summoned down a current guest, and she smiled as she bizarrely verified to us that she was nice to live with, as if he was forced to give a reference.
Despite the odd vibe – I ended up moving in. It was advertised as £120 per week which didn’t sound so bad – yet per month this equated to a steep £520 – ouch!
Initially, she was very pleasant- getting me a bottle of Prosecco for my birthday. However, the atmosphere- like a lemon, soon turned sour.
The downfall started when I dared to move the fire extinguisher inside my bedroom, having used it to prop open the door to get my belongings in. She was not impressed by this irritating relocation.
Talking of fire, there was a whiteboard next to the door. This had individual colored counters, which you needed to move across to distinguish if you were ‘in’ or ‘out’ . Even the teddy in the living room, Mr Twinkleberry – had his own counter at the bottom of the board.
This whiteboard existed in case there was a fire and she would know who was in. Or something.
It became an arduous task swiping it every time I left the house – I was scorned several times for not following this rule. To be fair, it was broken a lot as I’d just woken up, stumbled down the stairs and teetered out the front door in a snoozy half-asleep haze. Any guests who were visiting, had to add extra coloured counters to announce their presence.
It’s a good thing I’m not a big fan of hosting orgies, as there was only a limited amount of coloured counters available.
However, despite this, no friends were allowed in my room. Despite the Landlady having her own separate lair connected to the house, she seemed to have major power issues about who entered the hotel.
Talking of power issues, food was forbidden to be eaten in my room, and my room had to be kept clean at all times. Apparently, this was in case of visiting Firemen or Hotel Inspectors. What bullshit is this?
My friends were terrified of visiting me now anyway. When one innocently rang the doorbell, the Landlady begrudgingly opened the door to them – and barked to them that I needed to be taught how to answer the door if it was for me.
Sadly, my X-Ray vision from my second floor bedroom wasn’t operational.
My Dad once visited, and as I was talking to him in the hallway, she then exclaimed, with GCSE drama dramatic effect, “who is this stranger turning up in my house!”
There were many rules she encroached on the house guests, yet I felt I was victimized with the more petty regulations of her OCD manifesto. Apparently I needed to text her to say if I was away for a night, otherwise she would worry. It was also
decreed suggested that I greet her by name once I came home – so she could hear from her private lair.
Good Evening, Nurse Ratchet! I should have bellowed upon entry.
Another time she berated me for daring to move the net curtains in my second floor room. It transpired she had spotted my villainy whilst lurking outside looking up at my window. I’d only moved them a few inches so I could see the sky. (Or to view a potential escape route from her prison.)
I was so cautious upon my return, that my feet were metaphorically sore after treading on so many eggshells. She would creepily appear to pull me over when I had a friend around to have a quick word.
I hated these quick words.
She’d pull me over to talk about ‘just two things’ or ‘how we do things in this house.‘ I’d be dreading to hear what I’d done this time. It felt like I’d been dragged back in time to Year 3, and told that I had to behave as I was part of the Juniors now.
After my rule breaks, there were no more quick words. Instead of being hushed over when in the company of a friend, she would just bark at me in front of them. It was particularly horrendous when she humiliated me after using a sponge incorrectly. She mentioned to my girlfriend at the time that I just needed to be trained properly.
Next, I had left some meat in the fridge that had started to go off – she exclaimed ‘what would happen if the health department came over for an inspection?’
I could get this place closed down, I had thought, – apparently it was still technically a hotel. I shuddered at the thought of her being a hotel manager. She’s make Basil Fawlty seem like Mother Theresa.
My relationship with me and my darling Landlady became further strained. My friend once got lost on a night out and ended up crawling back up to the hotel. I then got an aggravated call from Landlady – around 2am- saying that my friend had turned up, demanded my presence, then collapsed on the sofa.
I apologised profusely in the morning, as the Landlady was stirring her
cauldron saucepan. She was turning around her wooden-spoon with so much venom even her soup was terrified. She was more annoyed that my friend burst in drunk asking after me, than being awoken at such an hour
She gave me a passive aggressive look, retorting with ‘maybe I should find somewhere else to live if this is your lifestyle’. This only happened once, but it wouldn’t surprised me if she started work on constructing a Rupert Voodoo Doll to stick pins in.
I had later woken my drunken friend and let her stay on the bed, to prevent her from flopping off the sofa. The Landlady remarked that she didn’t think it was appropriate to have a girl stay over as I had a girlfriend at the time.
To be honest, I tried to be polite at all times despite these shitty and weird comments. I was basically Little Lord Fauntleroy – minus the fringe. Despite seething with inner frustration at her post-menopausal, condescending personality, I was very well behaved and bit my tongue. So much in fact, it could have bled.
I eventually dared answer back to her snipey bites as you will find out soon. My inner fury was also building. Let’s talk about something harmless and fun. Like cake. Nothing can go wrong with cake, right?
After telling us to help ourselves to a birthday cake in the fridge, I had wolfed down a slice or two- decorating my chops with cream and cake sponge. Following this, I was violently ill in the early hours of the morning.
She let me know the following morning that said cake had been in and out of the sunshine most of the day prior. Eating high street kebab, marinated in the student house’s box of black ooze would have been less volatile.
The rest of the housemates were submissive and secretly terrified of her, and were far too timid to even operate the tumble drier in case it incurred her wrath.
Tammy, who she seemed particularly fond of, left to move in with her friends after staying at the hotel for several months. I asked the Landlady if it felt like saying goodbye to a child leaving home?
‘No,’ she replied. She later made a bitchy comment about Tammy.
I horrified her replacement, Cassie, with stories of the Landlady, who she deemed to like and had been invited to go on country walks with. I had not been invited – to be honest I would have contemplated accidentally pushing her down a pleasant country ravine.
Sadly, their new friendship did not begin to blossom when:
(a) Landlady proposed a £10 contribution charge per night for letting Cassie’s boyfriend stay over.
(b) Landlady advertised Cassie’s room, without telling her she was to move downstairs. This led to a humorous situation when Cassie stumbled out her shower, wearing a towel turban, to find a stranger viewing her room.
The other housemates were young men, mostly passive to her passive-aggressiveness, and adoring of her motherly charm. There were rumours of a liaison between her and a young housemate – simply yuck! I thought discretions like that only happened in Walkabout nightclub as the sun rose.
One time I saw her between two of them on the sofa watching the football, looking like the cat had got the cream. She was purring as they shared potato snacks whilst she spoke about her wild youth.
I was not one of these lucky men – Landlady ushered me over a month after I’d moved in. Apparently she had this meeting with all new house-guests. I joked if it was like an appraisal, which she simply said ‘Yes.’
She then said that I was a work-in-progress, and that our chat would be postponed due to it being me. What’s wrong with me?
You’re about to find out. The next afternoon, I came home wearing my shoulder man bag after a stressful day. The Landlady walked in, and complained that she told me off before about wearing my bag in the kitchen.
Correction: She’d told me not to wear my coat in the kitchen. (That was rule 20b?)
With that, she told me that she had enough and that I needed to find a new place to live.
I was shocked, I wasn’t sure what to say. I stood there, frozen to the spot.
I began to defend the ludicrousness of being told off for having my bag on. I explained I was tired after a long day at work. She retorted that she also had a long day at work, showing no mercy. Instead of sympathy I got apathy.
She said this wasn’t a student house I was used to. This was an adult house.
I went into my bedroom, and called my Mum telling her I had been told to leave. I felt quite dejected about being ejected. I felt like I had been rejected.
I hadn’t been kicked out before. My Mum had sometimes threatened – but she only got as far as putting my Playstation and socks in a black bin bag and telling me to go live with my father.
Few words were spoken over the following few days with the Landlady, and she laid off with the constant telling off. Perhaps she felt guilty and found silent treatment therapeutic?
I thought she may have changed her mind, but when I asked when I have to go, she told me that I obviously have to look for somewhere.
After a week of almost fruitless searching, Spareroom was advertising a picture of a new apartment complete with a Wii. I was overjoyed and took it immediately. As I told her, I could see a twinkle of giddy pleasure in her eye.
I knew now this was nearing the end – I didn’t have to hold back. My inner frustration was about to peak. A storm was brewing.
On my last day, I had packed all my things away into a car. It was time to say goodbye.
I decided to give her a parting gift- a list of the rules she had told me over the past 7 weeks. I completed my present with some of her patronizing sayings such as the classic – ‘you just need to be molded.’
As you read down below in the list, the more ridiculous her rules become. I was tempted to laminate it. From the understanding, to the petty, to the downright ludicrous, here is the rules that I was told to follow:
I declared that I had given her a present, put the above in her hand and promptly let loose an angry side to me that I didn’t know existed before. Also know as pent up Rupert rage fuel.
I told her how I felt about the way she treated me. I said how I didn’t like her patronizing attitude, and how I felt like a stranger in an unwelcome home.
As I was non-aggressive, it was less of a shouty rant, more of a civilized and well spoken diatribe. I even apologised midway through verbally destroying her. Such a gentleman!
I guess it was the equivalent of having a fracas with a bad tempered butler. I suddenly got an adrenaline rush, mid-speech. My heart was racing and I couldn’t quite focus as I had a go at her. Yet my gosh – it felt good. She was shocked as I told her that I was glad she kicked me out, that I never felt welcome and that I was actually sorry for this outburst.
She said she hadn’t told me to leave (Cassie was standing behind her at the time) and this was not the time nor the place for this and when it came to life skills – I couldn’t do… anything. She then apologized that I was unhappy here.
As I stormed out, I felt a great sense of relief and pride that I got to say my piece. I was free from her reign of terror, although I still felt bad that I had given her this special tirade with a raised voice.
I haven’t see her since. I did later add her to my growing list of enemies such as Heroes Karaoke Bar, Sebastien – a temperamental Berkshire-based horse, and Cynthia, a deluded ex with a Ski slope nose (who had the scare factor of outdated cottage cheese.)
I wanted to make a phallus using the counters on her whiteboard as a parting image.
I wish I had now.
Ps. I do hope Mr Twinkleberry is okay. Vote in my poll below 🙂
What experiences with landlords or landladies have you had? Comment below.