Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Rubber Gloves In Dovecot Towers

Dovecot Towers has a new cleaner. Presumably his predecessor ran screaming from the building when faced with accumulating filth and growing disrespect.

I’d imagine the caretaker did much the same; he was a lovely man who did his job with kindness, diligence and good humour, but who was always in the pub whenever I called (inevitable really.) We now have a permanent caretaker blessed with the traditional, dry, resigned, seen-it-all-and-then-some attitude of those who clean up after the general public. His first task was smartening up a flat where fleeing residents had stolen several large dustbins from the bin room and left them piled high with festering matter. Around here if it’s not nailed down…

I asked him why so many discarded reusable rubber gloves are scattered around. He says the cameras in the car park (efficient security is confined to the basement) show a balaclava clad man wearing said gloves to rummage through the rubbish, seeking unshredded documentation for the purposes of ID fraud. Next he’s spotted heading upstairs, and can’t be tracked; apparently he lives here, or rents a parking space. I hope he contracts a new disease which brands his forehead with an angry purple ‘T.’

He’s probably the same man who steals from post-boxes. Victims are selected at random; I can’t even have birthday or Xmas cards sent to my own address, while others are unaffected. Apart from that, Dovecot Towers is relatively crime free.

I once lived in a city block where scary gangsters set up an informal HQ in the basement, attempting to control the door security much as they did the clubs. The car park became a no go area, with stories of beatings, and male rape. Previous homes have sported thinly disguised cracks dens and informal shooting galleries. There were also brothels aplenty; I once opened a glossy Sunday supplement feature on inner city crime, where the under age prostitutes featured were my next door neighbours.

The management company though are tough on a new crime: ‘No Smoking’ signs have appeared. Don’t misunderstand me – I loathe smoking, and support the ban, but it seems fussy and absurd when the gaping main door as good as says: ‘Dovecot Towers Welcomes Careful Thieves.’

Whilst clinging to my bread board for the comfort of touching wood, I take consolation in the low rate of burglaries. For some reason, designers grasped that being able to knock down doors with a feather was a bad thing, and subsequently turned all front entrances into barricades. Consequently, burglaries were generally caused by a failure to lock up (even bailiffs evicting erring tenants struggled.)

Contemporary architects were slow to acknowledge emerging threats: rubbish bins are left open in communal areas, and post rooms are unlocked, as is the main door, because it is broken. Here in Dovecot Towers criminals keep their nefarious pastimes quiet (apart that is from the man I saw pissing from his balcony last week - but then it was such a lovely day for it.) Perpetrators learned a valuable lesson in discretion, which means they walk amongst us: they pass us on the stairs, before they rip us off.

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