dimanche 23 novembre 2008

The Poor List - fragment

After the fourth set of knocks I decided I had to answer the door. The hammering must have attracted the attention of the various next door neighbours because there was a unusual upsurge in activity and raised voices, for that time of the day, early morning around half eleven. I heard someone through the wall behind me hurl some abuse and a series of thuds and curses from the other house that abutted the gaff I was lodged in.

I sighed and decided to abandon the wank I was having trouble gettitng going anyway, and face whatever music was tuning up outside. I stumbled into stained jeans and tucked my t-shirt (Rich's slogan today 'Foot the Shook up') and made my way down stairs. I had problems finding the key after last night's crash landing and whoever it was outside was getting very impatient as well as piss wet through.

"Mr. McCabe!", a ribald regional voice shot through the suddenly extended letter box flap. "I know you're in there. No use hiding. Got some things we need to sort out."

For the uninitiated in living BTPL, the letter, the knock on the door and certainly the phone are not the usual sources of pleasurable social intercourse you're probably used to. There's a part of the study that should probably look at the amount of unopened mail, ignored phone and unanswered cold calls to premises of people under say, twelve shanks a year. I could run it past Studds but he or she would be bound to veto it due to lack of resource.

Thing is, once your cover is blown - the bletch must have seen my form ghost by the other side of the glass - you can't cower under the window ledge as I was doing for very much longer. The thought crosses your mind, well it would if you were in my sorry arsed boots, as it did mine, that it could be the police. This is a plausible opening ponder. Given the geography and history and all. For you or at least for a fair spread of the UK population, though, this would present no problem. 'Hello officer what seems to be the problem?' Then 'Yes I'd love to join I have always considered myself to be an active citizen' and so on and so forth or some other such nonsense. However, as the sharp eyed might have deduced by now, that encounters with knacker are to be avoided at all costs and anyway, there are things in the hutch I'm renting that I don't really want rozzer to start sniffing and asking questions about. So I decided on the Enamled Pig tactic.

Try it out on the cops and things could go one of two ways. Either you diffuse the situation, they leave and everything returns to normal or you make things very much worse for yourself and are invited down the shop for a more penetrating series of questions. But fuck it, I was in a gambling kind of mood. I pushed myself up, strode into the tiny hall opened the door and turned on the charm.

"Good morning. I'm terribly sorry I've kept you I'm afraid I had some urgent business to attend to. How can I help you?"

The bloke was in his mid twenties and in a cheap looking suit. More importantly he was alone. I had already looked furtively round for the squad car, the van or even a bike were his mates might be congregated, but there was just him, looking dank and wretched in the mist. He squinted up at me through his silver framed glasses and glanced down at the form. What the fuck was this? For a moment I hallucinated that he was a lawyer representative who had scoured the country looking for me to tell me that a long lost uncle had bequeathed me several hundred thousand pounds and this whole spiralling out of control study could be escaped from.

I was right with the first point. "I am Alan Marsh and I represent a firm of lawyers who are working for a debt recovery agency." He says. "They have instructed me to inform you that since the sum of three hundred and forty one pounds ninety six pence outstanding Local Council tax has not been paid, then the council will place your account in the hands of a firm of bailiffs who will remove items of value up to and exceeding the amounts owed from your place of domicile and charge you for the labour and costs incurred unless the said sum is paid in full withinn the next five working days."

It was quite a speil. I was always amused by the scrag ends of the amounts these people and their anaologues in the works station down town used. The dole mulla that came to sixty eight pounds and forty five pence, the housing sub that ended in nineteen pence, as if forty four pence or eighteen would just be fuck me too little to keep bollock and cock together. Time for the Enamled Pig. The history of this conversational tactic is rich in splendor, tradition and ceremony. That it has come down to this shamed and saddened me for a moment. What would the cheps think. But it didn't look like I was playing at living BTPL any more.

"I'm sorry. Who are you looking for?"

"A Mister Brendan McCabe. You are Mister Brendan McCabe?"

Ah. I'm afraid not. I'm sorry, you've got the wrong man. That bastard moved out last month without paying his share of the bills."

"Oh. I see." A look of unhappiness reached across the debt recovery man's face for a second and he seemed to deflate. I almost felt sorry for him. And a sensation of worthlessness spread through me like someone crossing my grave.

"Do you know where he's moved to by any chance?" I relaxed a fraction.

"No. Bloody hell. But look. If you catch up with the cheating fucker, could you come back and give me his fucking address n I'll see you right. Cash wise?" It was a rash offer in many ways.

"Don't know if I can do that. But. " Puzzled, he looked at his documentation again as if aghast that it had betrayed him. "Anyway sorry for disturbing you sir." He even smiled. And that was that.

"No problem." We exchanged scincere farewells and he turned and walked off up the street struggling with the plastic cover of his his little clip board that he was scrutinising.

Clearly, the fella hadn't been cut out for the debt collecting world. In fact, he hadn't even been cut out for any kind of occupation that involved slight to mild intimidation of the general public, like Park Attendant, traffic warden or supermarket security guard. You needed some kind of front you could rely on to get by in the debt world. Believe me. Some kind of dark threat you could put over without actually saying so in so many words, the slightly wild eyed glance that looked psychotically natural and spoke rendolently of pub carpark beatings, regular acustomisation to the receiving and doling out of physical violence and muscly inquisitions that put the terror into interrogation.

If Grabbit and Run were employing no marks like this Mister Marsh, the world of debt must be getting very big indeed.