Tuesday, 18 September 2007
Evidence Of Actual People
A growing pile of half empty takeaway boxes appeared close to Dovecot Towers, stacked up and hidden in an alley. It was a forlorn and lonely sight.
Later, I spotted a man - somewhat on the large side of chubby – greedily, and guiltily devouring burgers. I suppose his home has been declared a health food zone. If he shares a typically tiny, one bed flat, then a dirty alley is a haven for that hurried junk food fix.
Such close encounters are unusual. I rarely see living people around here, just the fallout of human occupation, like rubbish, abandoned post, and scraps of food dumped hastily outside. Considering that our rubbish is regularly sifted by thieves eager to pilfer documents for use in ID theft, residents are cavalier about how they discard evidence. Bank statements, personal letters, even prescriptions, are all strewn laxly around. Some are harmless, whereas other papers could be misused.
They could be ghosts for all I know, because I never see them. The people who leave these traces are ephemeral, and mysterious; fleeting wraiths glimpsed from the corner of my eye. I know they must exist because they leave a trail.
I often hear doors slamming before I edge down the corridor. Everyone seems keen to avoid their neighbours. People open their front door, check the coast is clear, and hurry off down the way, keeping well away from other tenants. It’s a sad, strange and isolated existence.
Even so, there are clues. Empty packing boxes abandoned in the rubbish room reveal so much about the mysterious inhabitants: decoded cardboard cartons allude to shopping, hobbies and who’s moving in. I often find myself wondering: who owns all the posh furniture from Heals (classy for Dovecot Towers) and who eats an oversize, overstuffed pizza every single day.
Someone regularly replaces an enormous mirror. Even with the expense, there’s the terrible misfortune. Most furniture is cheap, either because landlords are cheapskates, or tenants will be moving on. The same items break with predictable regularity: coffee tables, computer desks and shoddy fold-up dining chairs which probably fall to pieces at moments of exquisite comedy potential.
Using packing box divination, I have discovered that someone in Dovecot Towers recently bought a trampoline. Just how they will use it, when flats are so small that even energetic gesticulating can put you in the spinal unit, is a mystery to me. Wary that I am being similarly evaluated, I wrap all my rubbish and shred everything, which is hugely therapeutic.
When post is stolen, I wonder if the thief is reading up on me, forming a picture of my life. I wonder if I should ask my friends to send consoling advice about invented tragedy; maybe thieves will pity me, and leave well alone. Or should I plant fake letters from terrified ‘victims’, begging me to stop picking off and murdering their family, encouraging fear, and respect? Thieves have given up with bank statements (useless for ID theft, so I’m advised) but as for everything else – what will the sifters make of me?