Dovecot Towers is currently teeming with visitors, wandering around as if they own the keys to Liberty Hall. This happens every six, nine and twelve months, when standard leases end. Strangers are loitering in the foyer, cramming into the lifts, even standing vacantly outside my front door.
It’s like visitor’s day at a stately home. The place is buzzing with potential tenants all guided along the official tour. Estate agents park their branded Smart cars askew as space is limited. I catch them coaxing newbies to close the deal, winching them in with talk of proximity to the city (Bars! Clubs!) claiming to have had ten other viewings that day, so better hurry and commit - hand over that deposit, quickly, now.
You can spot the parents who are far too smart to lose money on student rent. Invest in property is their mantra, and I can see their point; why waste money on those halls of residence with rooms no bigger than a prison cell. Better to buy a flat and cash in when their beloved child graduates, perhaps even making a profit, or renting it out again.
Which means residents are landless peasant scum, and parental buyers stare at us disdainfully in the lift, mothers looking like they have just noticed a nasty smell. Their expressions are pained; they have headaches having spent the day exploring buy to let land, and are appalled, as flats are shoddy and uniform.
Parents of first year students look the established residents up and down with the beady of eye of those who know. They think we are all pimps, and pushers, crazed and waiting to ensnare their innocent offspring. What’s worrying is the amount of times they might actually have a point. One mother cast filthy looks my way, ignoring her surly daughter who nonchalantly ground a crafty cigarette into the floor.
I could start up as a guide: I would show all the places of note in Dovecot Towers: the foyer, where someone was mugged, and where rubbish is thrown on the floor as the bins left by management are stolen. The alcove where the prostitutes work, and the post room (or cheque donation lounge as I prefer to call it).
And I should be doing the interviews, ascertaining whether young Stewie going to throw rubbish off his balcony, or hold parties every weekend? Will they puke in the bin room? Will they form part of a community, or will they smirk and look away when neighbours say good morning?
I overheard one family asking many sensible questions of their vendor: the nature of the area, how much the flat had cost originally (adding – oh we can soon check that…) Another mother was reading her daughter the riot act: she’d be responsible for collecting money from her flatmate, it wasn’t a charity you know, if rent was late, they’d both be out. One slacker son had other concerns. His one and only question: is there a takeaway nearby.
Great news Stewie; they do home delivery.