What a busy two weeks it’s been. On top of working an extra day each week as overtime, I’ve also had my new dishwasher delivered and installed. I hadn’t appreciated how useless my old one was until I used the new one. My old dishwasher was random with its cleaning abilities. Sometimes, it would finish a cycle and announce – “I’ve cleaned everything in here except that plate because I didn’t like that plate,” or, more usually, “I’ve cleaned nothing in here except that plate.” I could only use the 60-degree hot wash if I had any chance of anything being cleaned, and there were optimal cleaning spots. Top tier, front left, you were confident anything put there would come out clean. Lower tier, nope, forget it.
Anyway, the new one was delivered on a Saturday and stood in the dining room until my appliance man could come the following Monday and install it. That was fun. Watching the poor man struggle to fit it I was very pleased he was doing it and not me. He took the old one away and that was that.
My new car was delivered that evening. So far, so good. It drives well and is comfortable. It wants to go fast though, driving at thirty miles an hour around town I can feel it straining on its leash and I wonder if the “boy racer” label usually attached to the drivers of Ford Fiestas is because the car has the need for speed.
As we normally name our cars, this one has been called Ruby. It’s a red car and Ruby is also one of the characters from my book Erinsmore, so it seemed apt. It is such a relief not to be relying on the bus. I mean, I managed, but two months without a car was a struggle.
The plumber has come back with a quote for the bathroom. To completely strip out the existing furniture, supply and fit all new – including swanky P-shaped bath with shower and curved shower door, a long vanity unit, and heated towel rail – retiling as necessary and making good, he has quoted £2500. This is a fair quote for that amount of work, so I’ve accepted it. Not that I had much choice, he was the only plumber I could find who was prepared to even talk to me, let alone come and give me a quote.
The house is upside down right now. My new boiler is being installed so there are workmen, pipes, and big boxes of tools in the bathroom, kitchen, and dining room. It’s taken two days. Yesterday we had no water or power for most of the day plus the bathroom was full of workmen. It made the whole toilet situation interesting. I consciously refrained from drinking all day and managed to not need to go from 8am until the workmen left at 4:30pm.
They did switch the water and power back on before they left, but we were still without hot water for the night. I had to wash my hair at least but know from experience that cold showers make me very angry, so I didn’t want to shock myself at 7am with freezing cold water. I have mixer taps and a hose on the bath, so I bent over the bath and just washed my hair in cold water. Still unpleasant, but better than a full shower.
The boiler has now been installed. I’ve been talked through running it and setting up the timer. It looks a bit rough right now. The new boiler is quite a bit smaller than the old one so tiles are missing and the new pipes are raw and copper coloured. I don’t know how I’m going to soften and disguise, but once the new bathroom is in I’ll figure something out.
The basement had to be emptied because part of the ceiling had to come down. I can’t remember if I told you, but an old lead pipe came out of the gas meter and connected to the main inlet pipe. It had to be replaced with a new pipe that complied with modern standards. Problem: the old pipe went under a section of the ceiling. That bit of ceiling would have to come down to access the pipe. This work was included in the quote to replace the boiler, so yesterday yet another workman turned up and proceeded to carry out the work.
He’s done a good job. The whole basement is going to be decorated including repainting the ceiling, so I can easily cover up the new raw ceiling. Franki and I paid a visit to the local hardware store on Wednesday and picked out a pale grey paint for the walls, a darker grey for all the woodwork, and white for the ceiling. This time I paid the extra and bought the special ceiling paint that goes on pink and dries up white. This is a very shadowy house and I know from bitter experience how annoying it is to be up a stepladder, trying to paint, unable to see where you’ve been because of shadows. Then days later, after the stepladder has been returned to Dad and the paint has dried, sitting there, and realise that you’ve missed in several places. I bought a large tin. Not only is there the basement ceiling to paint, but the dining room, the hall and landing ceilings could all do with a fresh coat of paint. The bathroom ceiling will also need doing, and if there’s any left it wouldn’t hurt to put a coat on the kitchen ceiling as well.
Along with a tin of wood primer/undercoat, a couple of bolts, and a bag of paintbrushes, the whole lot came to almost £140!
As it’s the August bank holiday this week, I will be working from Saturday to Tuesday, four full days, so won’t be able to do anything house or decorating-related. Then I have four days off. For the first three days, we will focus on decorating the basement. Not sure we will finish because there is a lot to do. As well as cleaning off all the dust caused by building work, all the woodwork needs a light sand – and there’s a lot of woodwork – then it will need priming and undercoating. The ceiling needs at least a coat. The walls will need two. All the woodwork will need a couple of coats. There are two new shelving units to be put up, a new grey wooden blind to fix, and the room put back to rights.
On the fourth day, we are hoping to do a car boot sale. For all my non-UK friends, this is like a yard sale but instead of piling all the stuff you no longer want in your driveway and hoping people come and buy it, you fill your car with it and go to a designated site where a car boot sale is being held.
This has many advantages over a yard sale. I don’t have a yard or any front of house area I could sell stuff from. My road is not a popular through road so not many people would happen to be passing and see that there is a sale. Some of these car boot sales regularly run all through the summer and have been established for many years, they are popular, and everyone knows about them. Hundreds, if not thousands of people will go to them so the chances of selling your tut are greatly increased. My problem was most car boot sales are held on a Sunday. I do not have a single Sunday over the next six weeks that I’m not working or already booked to do something else. Anyway, we did some research and found a big car boot sale that runs on a Saturday, not a Sunday.
The plan is to go through the house and have a purge of everything we wish to get rid of, then do a car boot sale and hopefully make some pennies to help offset how much money I’m currently spending. If it’s a good sale and we do well, we could even do it the following Saturday as well.
So, you’re now up to date on what’s been happening in the house.
Okay, now to the exciting bit. Something happened in my road yesterday that has shocked us all rigid and that I’m still trying to process.
The boilerman left at about five promising to be back the next day to finish the installation. I tidied up a bit, then was sitting in the lounge. The rain had stopped and as it was a hot and muggy day, the windows were all open. I was quietly sitting on the sofa checking Instagram when I heard breaking glass from outside in the road.
Curious, I went to the window and looked out. The first house in the road is opposite mine and the people who own it are currently living in Greece. Their grown-up son is living there whilst they are away and when I saw a man standing in the porch with his hands braced on either side of the door I assumed it was him. As I watched, he swayed alarmingly, and he was obviously the worse for alcohol. I wondered if the breaking glass was because he’d dropped a bottle. He turned his head, and I realised it wasn’t the son. Now concerned, I pulled aside the curtain to have a better look as he began to curse and shout at the door.
Yelling, “Come out you c**t” and “open this door you f****r”, I was horrified when he turned back to the door and started headbutting the glass. Over and again, he slammed his head violently into the glass and I heard it breaking further. Then he staggered back from the door and turned so I could see him face on. He was covered in blood, he had smashed in the glass pane in the door, there was broken glass all over the floor, and blood splattered up the door and walls of the porch.
Deeply shocked, I wondered what I should do as the man stumbled into the road and then disappeared from view. A second later I heard more breaking glass.
I knew it wasn’t my door or window and I could see it wasn’t my immediate neighbour. I realised he must be attacking the home of the elderly couple who lived two doors down. Very concerned for their wellbeing, I ran out of my house and down the road to their driveway. Maybe this was a stupid thing to do – I’ve been told it was – but in the heat of the moment, all I could think about was him attacking my neighbours. I wanted to make sure they were okay.
I stood at the bottom of the driveway and looked at their house. A big smear of blood was on their front window where he’d headbutted it. The man was standing at the door, hands again braced on either side of it, headbutting the glass violently. Glass was shattering and falling onto the floor. Again, he was shouting and swearing, calling them names, demanding that they come out and face him. That he knew it was them that had reported him.
To my horror, I saw the door open and realised one of my neighbours was there. Desperate to draw his attention away from them, I started yelling at him. “You’ve got the wrong house; you’ve got the wrong house! An elderly couple lives there. Leave them alone. They’ve done nothing to you.”
He ignored me and was shouting and threatening the person in the doorway.
I shouted louder and waved my arms. He turned towards me and staggered down the driveway to stop about three feet away from me. He was a mess. His forehead looked like chopped liver, blood was pouring down his face, and his mouth was full of blood. His clothing was splattered with blood, and it was gushing from his hands and arms.
He was yelling nonsense at me. Asking if it was me who reported him. I said I didn’t know who he was, so why would I? I kept saying he was in the wrong place, that no one on the road had hurt him, he was in the wrong place.
Then I looked into his eyes and saw the madness in there. I realised he wasn’t just drunk, that he was probably drugged up as well. I knew there would be no reasoning with him. He lurched towards me. I suddenly stopped being afraid for my neighbours and became afraid for myself.
I ran. Back into my house. I slammed the door and closed my front window, then phoned 999. I asked for the police, but the controller told me all the lines were busy. WTF?! I told him there was a blood-soaked man on the road who had already smashed in the doors of two properties, that he was not in control and was dangerous. The controller kept trying to get me through to the police, but all their lines were busy.
By this time, Franki had emerged from their room alarmed by the shouting and ran downstairs. Having the foresight to begin filming the man on their phone, we watched as he lurched about on the road. To my horror, other neighbours were coming out of their houses and approaching him.
Quickly, we ran upstairs, and I leaned out of my bedroom window and shouted at them to get back, that he was drunk and on drugs, that he’d already smashed the doors on two properties and was dangerous.
Luckily, they moved back. The controller was still trying to get through to the police when we heard sirens and a police car roared into the road. I told the controller that the police were there, so I didn’t need to be connected and hung up. The police stopped in front of the man. To our disbelief, he launched himself at the car and left bloody handprints all over the bonnet and up their windscreen.
The two male police officers tried to restrain him, but he fought them off. They wrestled him to the ground with blood spurting everywhere. One officer tried to pepper spray him, but it somehow bounced off the struggling man and hit the other police officer in the face. Rendered blind, he still tried to help hold the violently flailing man down. A young man passing by sat on the assailant’s legs until the officers managed to cuff him.
Franki videoed the whole thing. They were inches away from my car so on the video you can hear me plaintively squeaking to please mind my new car.
Once the man was restrained, we went downstairs and back out onto the street. The officer asked if we’d seen what happened. When I said I’d witnessed the whole thing, he told me that I’d have to give a statement. They wrenched the man to his feet.
“I haven’t done anything,” he kept insisting.
“Look at that door,” I cried, and pointed to the smashed window, all the glass and blood everywhere. “You also smashed in the door of a terrified elderly couple.”
“It wasn’t me,” he said. As they shoved him into the back of the police car he called me a c**t.
More police officers turned up to take statements and it was then I found out who he was. Regular readers will remember the problems we’ve had with a man who used to live in the horrible block of flats opposite. How one night I was awoken to the sound of him dragging a knife along the gate railings and asking us to “come out to play”. All the noise and disturbances when he and his girlfriend had epic fights in the street. The day I came home from work and couldn’t get into my road because he had thrown all his furniture off his balcony – including a washing machine, a TV, and a gaming chair. He has been relocated elsewhere but his girlfriend still lives in the flats. There is a restraining order and a community order against him. He is not allowed within a mile of the road. But blind drunk and high on drugs, he decided to ignore that and visit us. Convinced someone on the road had reported him to the police, he went on a vengeance fest.
The police have him in custody, for now. He will be charged with criminal damage, violence, anti-social behaviour, and resisting arrest, but I doubt he’ll be locked away. No, he’ll be given a smack on the wrist and set free. No one will do anything.
What does he have to do? We all asked the police officers. What does he have to do before anything is done about him?
I fear the answer is murder. Nothing will be done about him until he has seriously hurt or even killed someone, and then everyone will wring their hands and cry how awful, and fingers of blame will be pointed. Something needs to be done about it now before the unthinkable happens.
The policeman who’d received a face full of mace came into our house and took our statements. It took forever because he had to write it all out longhand and went over every tiny detail. I made the poor man a cup of tea, after all, he had been pepper sprayed. He also told us it was only his second week on the job, that he’d transferred here from London thinking Suffolk would be quieter and calmer.
How’s that working out for you?
We didn’t get dinner until gone eight. We were starving and wrung out. The plans I’d made to make a spaghetti bolognese were put on hold until tonight and we shoved an oven pizza and fries in. I opened a bottle of wine. After what had happened, I felt I deserved it. I worried it might stop me from sleeping, but a week of insomnia plus the come down from adrenalin meant I fell into bed at eleven and knew nothing until seven.
So, what happens now? I honestly don’t know. I’m not scared of this man, but I am concerned. He could come back at any time. At the very least, he could damage our homes or our cars, at the very worst he could damage one of us.
Franki has taken it hard. Now afraid of being alone in the house, I know the days of them being happy to have doors and windows open during the day because it’s so hot are over – especially if I’m not here. At their request, a bolt has been fitted to their bedroom door to make them feel more secure. I have reassured them that he will be in custody until a court date can be arranged. In all likelihood, he won’t be out until after they have returned to university.
And that is what happened.
I can’t believe that one person can have such an impact on the lives of so many people. It’s unfair. He broke both a restraining order and a community order, so that will go against him. He damaged property, disturbed the peace, exhibited violent and threatening behaviour, and assaulted two police officers whilst resisting arrest. How long will he go to prison for, if indeed he does go, I have no idea? We can only wait and see, and I will, of course, keep you posted.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s almost 5:30 and I am going to make myself a gin and tonic and gather with my neighbours in the street for our weekly get-together. Like survivors of a disaster, I guess the conversation will be about what’s happened as we try to make sense of it. I do live in an amazing street. After it happened yesterday, everyone who was home was out sweeping up glass and washing away blood off property and cars. A casserole was produced from somewhere for the elderly couple to have for dinner. Lots of hugs were given and received as we all mucked in to clean up the mess. We can’t let one evil individual spoil that. We won’t.
Have a wonderful couple of weeks my friends, and I will speak to you soon.
All the best.