In Dovecot Towers the other day, I found a scallie in the bin room. He wasn’t doing anything wrong, but was slumped on the floor, drinking supermarket cooking lager. The bin room has grates instead of windows to let fresh air circulate; he must have been freezing. He was of course wearing his hoody, and dressed from head to toe in black, but seemed extremely embarrassed. The main door has been broken for two months now, and he might have wandered in. He might even live here.
Recently, I have noticed a lot of scallies hereabout. Landlords have entrenched ideas about who makes the ideal rent payer, and scallies are at the bottom of that list, especially unemployed examples. Current economic turmoil is challenging the stereotypes long treasured by landlords who - since they won’t actually live in the flats themselves- select a mirror image to dwell in their investment. Even being employed isn’t enough; the perfect tenants are established professionals, non-smokers, compulsive cleaners, all obsessive about paying rent on time. Letting agents even check your fingernails.
When I first moved in, I half expected to look around at five thirty and watch a battalion of bowler-hatted city types making their way home to Dovecot Towers. But most solicitors, accountants and internet millionaires with psychological cleaning problems have property of their own, forcing landlords to let go of their desires and accept that ordinary people had better move in pronto if they wish to avoid repossession and ruin. These replacements may or may not have jobs, as long as they pay the rent and behave themselves, then everyone is happy.
I used to live in Glasgow. Sartorially speaking, the Glaswegian equivalents of scallies - Neds - are the extreme opposite to their counterparts in North West England. Many Neds dress entirely in white, and pride themselves on their pristine, deceptively virginal clothing, whereas scallies dress completely in black (allegedly copied from criminals who wear black to stop police identifying them from their dress). If Neds and Scallies ever met, a nuclear event would ensue, and I fear the world would end. Incidentally, the word Ned was originally thought to derive from Non Educated Delinquent, until a Ned wrote to a Glasgow paper, pointing out that the grammatically correct phrase is actually Un Educated Delinquent, which would have made them Ueds.
‘Gentrification’ is a pious, snide, and snobby term, but increased rents were forcing established residents away from districts bordering the desirable Merchant City. Around Dovecot Towers, similar traffic is in reverse. As has been documented on rentergirl many times previously, there are too many empty flats, all scrabbling for the ‘good’ tenants. It seems that reality is enveloping these gated communities for students just passing through, or accountants on six month contracts, who move in with a wheelie bag and head home at weekends, or those of us destined to stay for a while. Dovecot Towers is being repopulated.