On the housing crisis and increased numbers of rough sleepers in the UK

This is a reaction to the Cambridge News article regarding the shocking increase in the number of rough sleepers in the center of the city. As a word of warning, I am a rather passionate individual, so you should expect rougher language at times. If you are easily offended, then, well, fuck off.

I’ll start this by saying I am not even close to a rough sleeper, and it’s quite difficult for me to even imagine the amount of shit that living your life on the city’s pavement involves. I am an educated white male, born and raised in an urban environment, who has travelled and seen a lot. I am not specifying this for those who think that the whole age/race/sex/sexual orientation/religion thing is crap and doesn’t matter (I feel like that myself, and I can only hope most of my readers are the same), but for those who vote for racist, xenophobic, and just fucked up people and/or ideals (cough, cough brexit, trump, putin, marine le pen, cough, cough).

However, having just recently arrived into the UK (well, one year and five months, now), I would think of myself as someone who doesn’t have his head stuck up his arse as much as the authorities, the journalists and most UK natives I have met so far seem to have.

General cluelessness

See, I arrived to this country with some savings, a nice and legal employment contract, and temporary accommodation (up to a month in a coworker’s place). I though that, with this in hand, together with the illusion that I was arriving in a civilised country, opening a bank account, finding a place to rent and getting around shouldn’t have been major issues, right?

Wrong.

My circumstances were quite similar to someone who, for some reason or another, has lived under society’s radar for quite a while. No tenancy contract with my name on it. No utility bill. No bank account. No NiNo. Just a bloke who wants to play fair, follow the rules and who would like to, ideally, hit the earth running and start paying taxes as soon as possible. As I soon found, however, the British society is quite unfriendly with anyone who wasn’t born and bred on this island, and who didn’t have the same path in life as their standardised individual. Anyone different.

I say “standardised individual” because I feel like everyone is expected to behave exactly the same around here. If you become non-standard in any way, by either just moving into the country or by somehow falling out of the country’s housing, employment, and banking system’s best graces, you are probably too much of a bother for anyone to take any “risk” with you. Actually, I think this is the gist of it: people are scared of risk, they want everything to be as safe as possible, even going to the extent of becoming absolutely ridiculous in the process. If you don’t fit the pattern, you are too much of a risk – and that’s it.

The interesting part is that the average brit you bump into at your Tesco or Coop doesn’t even realise this; if you ask them, this is the neatest and fairest country of them all, and they can’t even imagine how someone could ever say that they have a problem. And then they go along with their day, happily being part of the system that is marginalising everyone who isn’t somehow in debt and doesn’t hold a credit card in their pocket.

Another thing is that everything takes forever to happen around here. I think that people are disorganised, inefficient and lazy as fuck. And this is from a bloke who is coming from a country literally suffocated by an inefficient state system defined by ex-socialist bureaucracy and corruption. I believe this attitude to be to a combination of too much regulation in everything, combined with the french “je m’en fiche” (ah, mon dieu, I am comparing brits to french, the horror – get the fuck over it, you are basically brother and sister in the European context) and a generalised epidemic of risk-averseness to everything (really, just stop being fucking afraid of every. single. fucking. thing – like basic eye contact, not having an insurance for every single little thing or talking about interesting things, not idle talk).

Anyhow, back to the general tardiness and lack of fucks given. Everything needs to be done by appointment only, which is fair, but all appointments are made two, three, four weeks in advance. My Job Centre interview was scheduled for three weeks from the day I arrived into the country (I could not make an appointment in advance, because fuck me that’s why). After those three weeks, I was supposed to wait up to four more weeks to receive my NiNO. Mine arrived in one, which probably means I stepped in a big pile of shit and got lucky, but I’ve heard of people waiting for far more than the advertised four weeks.

Oh, but you know what the fun part is?

I had to wait for four weeks in order to receive the most basic of papers, the one that basically certifies I exist in this country. Without a NiNO, I cannot open a bank account (which, to be honest, seems quite sensible – one of the very few sensible things in this story, really).

However, you know what else happens after four weeks? The month is nearing its end, and I am supposed to receive my salary. In a British bank account. And nobody wants to touch cash, so… Tick-tock, tick-fucking-tock.

What rhymes with bankers?

I had then had to wait an additional 4 weeks in order to get a bank account. To open a bank account, they need to know who you are, and where you can be found.

Who you are is easy, use your passport, ID card, driving license. If you travel to a different country, you usually have that kind of ID with you.

Where you can be found, now that is a tad more difficult. You need to have a tenancy agreement, the Job Centre letter with the NiNO number on it (and the valid name and address on it – this is another story, apparently spelling your name in the NATO alphabet is not enough, and they will probably register you under whatever random indian-sounding name they think they heard), an utility bill, stuff like that. Without a bank account, I cannot easily rent a place, because it seems that in this country I cannot pay the security deposit in cash (rent would be ok, but only for the first two months, after that it cannot be paid in cash anymore). Without renting a place, I cannot get utility bills with my name on them. Oh, not that I could have any utilities connected without a bank account and direct debit (there are always pre-paid energy meters with huge rates, right?). One more thing that cannot happen without a bank account is, yes, receiving my fucking salary (because, yeah, cash is icky). One of the basic uses for a salary is to, you know, pay rent. See how the circle is closing here? Now, I had enough savings for a while, but it would have been nice not having to use those up for renting a place and paying utility bills (considering  I would get a damn debit card issued to me in the first place). And, again, what if I didn’t have a few thousand pounds stashed away? Would I have been one of those nasty immigrants who bother everyone because, you know, of course it’s their fault?

This is perfection, really. Slow god damn fucking claps for the cock sucking wanker who designed this whole circular system. You, sir (or lady), are a brilliant arse hole.

However, the procedure should be a bit more relaxed for EU nationals, and different, more permissive, paperwork is accepted (like a letter from your employer and/or people who are temporarily hosting you, confirming your whereabouts and salary) – probably one of those EU measures that are frowned upon in the UK because they actually force people to be, you know, sensible. Relaxed or not, there is no obligation for a bank to accept a customer (really? how come they have this kind of freedom and I can’t say fuck you to the banking system and pay everywhere with cash???), so it really boils down to them on how they interpret the legislation.

For example, a bloke with fancy blonde hair from Lloyds (the one on Mitcham’s Corner, to be specific) told me that, while they do make all this bureaucratic shit a bit more decent and bearable for EU nationals, I do not qualify because I am Romanian and the country where I’m from is not part of the EU. Bewildered, and wondering if I didn’t inadvertently fucking travel back in time into the ’90s as soon as I stepped into his office, I asked him to verify this, which he apparently did. His answer, was that yes, it looks like Romania is part of the EU (didly doo you fucking ignorant piece of shit) but they still cannot open an account with the accepted EU paperwork because I am from Romania and, you know… computer says no.

It doesn’t stop here, because I then went across the street, to Barclays, where a nice lady took my paperwork, looked at it in silence for a good five minutes, said that everything is ok and all they need is in there, then typed in some stuff on the computer and told me that I should receive confirmation that my account has been created in a few days’ time. Should. Naturally, that didn’t happen, so I called them back and the same lady told me that I did not have all required paperwork, she can’t do anything about it (“it’s the security’s system, we can’t control that, sorry”) and then hung up on me. Again, another glorified “computer says no”.

Just a note, if by now you haven’t watched “Little Britain”, go watch it. They say it’s comedy, but it’s the god damn honest to god truth about how the people on this island are actually wired like.

I then went to Nationwide, Metro, Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, and a bunch of other shitholes-for-a-bank with more or less the same results, until I reached HSBC (actually that was one of the first banks I made an appointment with, only they set it for 4 weeks later so it ended up being the last one to “visit”) and finally got a fucking bank account. Looks like the Chinese people like my software engineer money. I wanted to fucking throw a party and invite the whole city, that’s how big the relief was when I went outside their branch and had an actual bank account. Like, I can get paid now.

I am a highly ambitious guy, who doesn’t give up easily, who had a nice warm place to sleep in, and who didn’t have any issues with procuring food and drinks (I know you are kind of proud of it, but most British beer is shit, sorry), had some money set aside, and was a phone call away from his family and loved ones.

And now we’re finally talking about you shitty attitude towards the housing crisis in the U fucking K. Now, how difficult do you think it would be for someone living under a god damned bridge, whose only house is a sleeping bag with some cardboard laid on the pavement, and who needs to resort to begging in order to afford lunch? How would he or she get a bank account? How the fuck could that individual work (legally) when every single employer wants to pay people via a bank transfer and asking for cash instead is like saying you want to fuck a pig in the arse (hello there, David).

Oh, and this is just getting a bank account. Getting my name on a tenancy agreement, that’s another pile of crap.

Oh, ye mighty landlord

There are two sides to this. You either go and rent privately, but this could be an issue since bankers are wankers (see, told you I’ll find a rhyme) and a private letting contract is, you see, just. not. good. enough. Bankers love agencies, probably because they are the same kind of scum and this is an economy based on adding as many intermediaries into the chain, so they will only be happy when the letterhead you show them is from some shit-for-faces agency. Renting privately, on the other hand, has the potential of being better than going through an agency for the sole reason that the landlord might actually give a fuck about the house’s condition and might actually act like a decent human being when you have an issue with the house’s state of repair. Or not, who knows what kind of asshole you might stumble upon.

Going through an agency, you will find that rent is higher and the house looks poorer, that you pay a shitload of money in fees for imaginary services to some wankers who can’t even spell their own fucking names properly, and that not a fuck is given when repair works need to be carried out (like not being able to open the god damn bedroom window for months on end – it was broken from July all the way to December, when I just said fuck you to the agency and ended the contract).

As a side note, you should take a picture of everything (and I do mean every. little. single. fucking. thing) the moment you move in and then spend a bunch of time compiling a response to their half-arsed inventory (where everything is, of course, marked as being in fair condition – what the fuck does “fair” mean???) because otherwise you will be fucked over threefold when you leave that place and end up not seeing a penny out of that hefty security deposit you had to pay when you moved in. Oh, and if you didn’t receive an inventory, you can be sure that there is one so detailed that you will dread the day you decided they are nice people and you don’t need to go that close to paranoia in order to save your ass (well, money, actually).

Speaking of which, security deposits are in-fucking-sane. How the hell would an individual with, let’s just say modest means, be able to come up with 150% of the rent upfront in order to pay for the security deposit? With the average rent for one bedroom in the city I live in (yes, just the bedroom, not a flat with one bedroom) being around 500 quid, that would be 750 quid for just the security deposit. A grand total 1250 for the first month of moving into a place. One shitty bedroom. Single.

Oh, and another pet peeve: sharing a house with strangers. I find that degrading if it’s done after college. I would imagine not being able to walk around in your pants (underwear) around the house is a common practice all over this country only because something as basic as a roof over your head tends to cost more than it should.

But going past the whole agency, inventory, security deposit, sharing a house with strangers shit, there’s something worse than being an Eastern European expat looking for rent (yeah, not immigrant, the term is “expat” for non-british people too, assholes). That is looking for rent while being on benefits, which is something that landlords seem run away faster from than Usain Bolt was when breaking the 100m world record. Why is that, I have no idea, I can only think they want to avoid damage to the property, damage which seems more likely when you are a pretentious scum who owns a house and thinks that people on benefits will throw parties which involve spreading Marmite on the walls. That security deposit to be used in case anything needs fixing? Nah, too much of a bother.

Actually, no, it’s because the uptight standard clean as snow and fair as shit individual thinks that people on benefits are alcoholics and druggies, including rough sleepers. Yes, you do, you judgemental arses.

Money, argent, plata, soldi, capisci?

And it’s money, again. Living in the UK, I got this feeling that someone is only worth the net amount of money you can pull out of their wallets.

It’s very subjective, I know, but before moving into this wreck of a house I am currently renting, I was a tenant for one month and a half with a live-in landlord and her soon-to-be husband. We shared the same hobbies, we were all motorcyclists, and I really felt like they were people who spoke the same language as I did. Not english, mind you, but the common language of freedom, the open road, twisties, and the joy of scraping the asphalt with your pegs. I got to consider them friends – and good ones for that matter. After all, they met my girlfriend, we went to motorcycle shows, we had rides together when I had my bike over, we went out to pubs, and I was invited to her birthday party.

However, they taught me that words are meaningless when money is involved, even among friends. I believe this to be a very cultural thing, since every British person I met so far seems to have money (or the lack of it) as one of their main discussion topics. This is actually quite weird, since one would expect this subject to have less importance in such a prosperous country. I mean, I thought people would talk more about enjoying life rather than not having enough cash, right? Then again, you did have this woman sitting on a gold throne, wearing a diamond-encrusted crown, telling you that further austerity measures are needed.

Long story short, having made the decision to go back to Bucharest, I had to go ahead and make arrangements for my leaving. Relocation for my stuff from here to Romania, and a short-term rent for a few months once my current tenancy contract will be over. Being a good planner, I asked them if the room was still available, told them when I needed it, and they said that yeah, I can count on them for those three months.

With this in mind, I figured I’d be able to afford a relaxed motorcycle trip across Europe so I can get my bike back home. I only went on to such a spending extravagance knowing that I had a place to stay in starting December, when the contract for the house I am renting will be over. On top of that, I wouldn’t have to save money for a security deposit since I knew the people and they knew me as an honest guy who keeps his word.

Half-way down the trip, I receive a text message from them, saying that they cannot afford waiting, and they will give the room to someone else.

Well, fuck, what can I do?

Continue the trip, get back to the UK and start looking for alternatives. I ended up renting a room in a house for 4 months from a stupid chinese landlady bitch who, at one point, would have rather eaten shit from under her nails than heat the god damn house over 13 degrees Celsius.

What now, gov’nor?

I find that the UK is a country whose society is, traditionally, a highly utilitarian one, where people are friendly with you only as long as you are of use to them, where your sole existence is build around consumption and being in debt to the financial system, and where everyone is focused on standardising everything and everyone.

Because everyone is so used with everything being standardised, the society is so numb, that it cannot possibly react in both a sensible way and in a timely fashion to anything that is different. Being unable to react leads to being unable to be introspective regarding their own flaws, which can only spiral down, deeper into the general numbness.

If you want to help the people who are sleeping rough, then change mentalities, don’t point your fingers to the houses that are not inhabited. The problem is not there, the problem is with you and how you are reacting to people who are different, be they foreign or rough sleepers.

fb

Hai sa bat si eu apa in piua un pic despre relevanta si utilitatea Facebook-ului in vietile noastre.

Acum o saptamana si un pic, pe 1 februarie, am postat pe Facebook ca a fost descoperit un tratament impotriva cancerului, tratament care a fost testat pe soareci cu rezultate extraordinare, fara efecte adverse (chiar de-ar fi, oricum e greu sa fie mai rau decat chemoterapia), si ca vor sa treaca si la teste pe oameni. Pe scurt, asta e o veste extraordinara, acesta fiind unul dintre primele tratamente alternative la operatie+chemo din ultima vreme.

Ieri, m-am gandit sa fac un experiment. Am cautat pe google images “funny cat meme”, am luat la plesneala a 5-a imagine si am postat-o, fara comentariu, fara nimic. E o poza cu care nici macar nu ma identific, pentru ca I’m awesome si atunci cand dorm (ba chiar epic, daca e sa ma iau dupa SnoreLab).

Din astea doua postari, una a primit peste douazeci de like-uri, a doua a primit fix zero. Nu mai scriam daca nu era asa dar da, cea cu pisica a fost cea mai populara.

Din chestia asta, as putea trage mai multe concluzii. Cine nu stie cum functioneaza platforma asta, ar putea spune ca oamenii sunt superficiali, ca nu au chef sa citeasca si ca de ce postez prostii plictisitoare, oricum? Ca articolul asta, pe care-l citesti acum, de exemplu. Partial adevarat, dar mai bine am putea sa ne uitam la cum functioneaza algoritmii din spatele Facebook si cum organizeaza ei postarile din timeline.

Facebook e o afacere. Scopul sau e de a face bani, iar monetizarea se face cu ajutorul reclamelor, mai exact a celor targetate. Din cauza ca impartasim o groaza de date despre noi, treaba asta e foarte usoara si foarte eficienta. Reclamele targetate in cazul FB se impart in doua categorii: cele pasive, cu care nu poti sa interactionezi (in afara de click pe ele – cele din side-bar, in general) si cele interactive, cu care poti sa interactionezi (like, share, comment).

Dar, pentru ca Facebook sa fie in continuare o afacere profitabila, platforma asta trebuie sa fie foarte buna in a ne convinge sa petrecem cat mai mult timp pe ea si sa continuam sa impartasim informatii despre noi. Mecanismul prin care face asta se bazeaza pe exploatarea sistemului de recompense, mai ales a recompenselor pe termen scurt. Cele care ne fac sa ne simtim fericiti instant, dar care, de regula, nu sunt foarte benefice pe termen lung. Cum ar fi fast-food-ul. Nimic nu te binedispune mai mult decat un HappyMeal, nu? Ce conteaza ca vei fi obez, diabetic si cu probleme la inima?

Totul, dar absolut totul din interfata e gandit astfel incat sa “gadile” mecanismul asta si sa ne faca un pic mai “fericiti”, de la notificarile cu rosu (nu stii daca e un like, un comentariu, o postare a unui prieten intr-un grup, o reclama, dar e cu rosu si e fain, asa ca o sa dau click pe ea, yay!), pana la locatia butoanelor, a meniurilor, chiar si iconita globului care a fost schimbata pentru a-ti arata continentul pe care te afli.

Problema cu mecanismul asta este ca genereaza dependenta, la fel cum alcoolul, tigarile si drogurile o fac (alte chestii care te fac sa te simti bine rapid si pe termen scurt).

Acum ceva vreme, Facebook-ul a introdus reactiile. Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry. Oamenii se simteau aiurea sa dea Like unei stiri despre un viol, un atentat, sau oricarei postari in general triste. Asa ca Facebook a “cedat” si le-a adaugat.

Dar stai, daca tot le ai, de ce sa nu si profiti de pe urma lor, nu? Dupa ce a asteptat un pic sa adune date relevante din reactiile nou introduse, Zuckerberg a declarat ca, incepand cu 2018, va fi introdus un bias puternic in favoarea postarilor care ne fac sa ne simtim bine si care promoveaza interactiunile “meaningful”. Ce inseamna meaningful, nu stim, dar stim ca site-ul asta e o afacere care are nevoie de multi, multi, multi utilizatori, si ca in ultima vreme traficul a cam scazut. In contextul asta, meaningful ar putea fi orice ii tine pe oameni cu ochii lipiti de ecran si cu degetul scrolland, eventual obisnuindu-se sa dea mai multe like-uri (sau reactii, whetever), astfel incat sansele de a da si peste o reclama sa creasca.

Avand in vedere bias-ul trecut, cel care intai iti erau puse in fata postarile platite, dupa care, poate, cele cu adevarat postate si sharuite de cei din lista ta de prieteni, si bias-ul curent, cel pentru promovarea interactiunilor “meaningful”, ajungem la o mare varza in ceea ce priveste “recomandarile” (oricum recomandarile sunt cam tot ce vedem pe Facebook). Nu ca inainte ar fi fost mai ok.

Problema cu algoritmii astia care decid in locul nostru ce anume ar trebui sa consumam, este ca nu sunt umani. Recomandarea unui continut sau a altuia este o treaba foarte complexa, care depinde de niste lucruri pe care nu am reusit inca sa le replicam artificial. Un algoritm ar trebui sa aiba simt critic, bullshit-filter, sensibilitate culturala, capacitatea de a interpreta informatia in functie de context. Exista oameni care sunt buni la asta, asa supravietuiau ziarele si publicatiile inainte de epoca internet. Ba chiar si dupa ce a devenit mainstream internetul, existau bloggeri, critici care scriau publicatii online, recenzii scrise de oameni, etc. Exista un filtru uman, foarte bun, de altfel.

Dar sa revenim la superficialitatea oamenilor. Spuneam ca este doar partial adevarata si ca faptul ca pur si simplu nu vezi postarea ar putea duce, ei bine, la ramanerea acesteia in anonimat.

Asa cum spuneam mai sus, oamenii se pricep destul de bine sa filtreze informatiile, dar au nevoie de timp si spatiu pentru a face asta, pentru ca e destul de obositor. Din cauza asta, editorii umani, cei care doar cu asta se ocupa, sunt foarte utili. Nu erau toti extraordinar de buni, dar aveau ceva de pierdut: reputatia. Fara reputatie, nu mai ramaneau pe piata si trebuiau sa se reorienteze catre o alta activitate (sau sa-si gaseasca alta nisa). Un fel de filtru pentru cei care filtreaza informatia, un sistem bun si sustenabil.

Dar acum nu mai suntem in contact direct cu ei, ci cu un algoritm biased catre reclame, click-bait-uri, si alte prostii superficiale care ne fac fericiti repede-repejor. Acum avem in fata un feed care nu se mai termina (care tot e o chestie facuta anume, sa nu te opresti asa de repede din scrollat si “dezgropat” lucruri “interesante”), plin de zgomot: in el gasim atat postari lungi si posibil interesante, cat si postari lungi si neimportante, statusuri sharuite de prietenii nostri, reclame, poze, reclame, alte statusuri, ceva fake news de la comisarul sau alt site de duzina, reclame.

Pentru ca e ca un vanzator enervant care incearca sa ne bage rahaturi pe gat (oamenii nu au iubit niciodata reclamele), reputatia algoritmului e la pamant, asa ca incercam sa filtram noi din zgomotul de pe feed. Dar e mult si nu se mai termina. Fiind atat obositi cat si deja antrenati ca, in momentul in care intram pe Facebook sa ne asteptam la si sa reactionam la quick rewards, normal ca vom dori sa dam like la ceva lejer, dupa care sa sarim peste chestiile mai greu de consumat, dupa care iar ceva lejer (you get a high cand apreciezi ceva si faci acest lucru public, apropo).

Asa ajunge o poza cu o pisica luata la intamplare de pe internet sa fie mai apreciata decat o stire despre un posibil leac impotriva cancerului.

Ce putem face? Pai, putem reactiona fix ca inainte cand, in momentul in care calitatea si reputatia unei surse de informatii scadea, ne orientam catre alta sursa. Schimbam ziarul, revista, scoteam blogul din RSS reader, nu mai intram pe site-ul respectiv. Putem renunta la algoritmii astia, numai ca, din pacate, treaba asta e la fel de dificila ca renuntatul la fumat. Nu e doar un ziar sau o publicatie. E un drog.

Problema drogurilor e ca, dupa ce devenim dependenti de ele, efectele negative incep sa fie din ce in ce mai vizibile. In cazul Facebook-ului, faptul ca ne-a obisnuit cu un anumit nivel de superficialitate si ca ne bombardeaza cu ce informatii vrea el (preferabil )informatiile extrem de multe si filtrate prost incep sa aiba efecte si in viata reala. Relatiile (atat de prietenie cat si sentimentale) sunt mai greu de mentinut, lucrurile care nu ne aduc satisfactie imediata sunt din ce in ce mai dificile si ajungem sa renuntam la ele in favoarea celor care ne “gadila” frumos si repede.

Apropo, va recomand Minunata Lume Noua a lui Huxley si, mai ales daca nu le prea aveti cu cititul, serialul Black Mirror.

Enter title here. Sau ceva de genul.

Daca as fi in locul tau, as citi asta inainte de a da cu ochii pe ce am scris eu mai jos. 

Acum, trecand peste chestiile legate de spiritualitate si peste cuvantul “mindfulness” care ma irita la culme pentru ca e la mijlocul a o groaza de escrocherii (orice lucru bun trebuie sa fie abuzat, nu?), cred ca ceea ce a scris nenea ala in articolul din link e adevarat si seamana mult cu ceea ce faceam acum ceva vreme, cand mi se spunea ca sunt un ascultator bun (si cand scriam pe blog chestii relevante, de care sunt inca oarecum mandru).

Din pacate, in ultimul timp am devenit un pic reactiv si – total atipic – uneori ma trezesc vorbind aiurea in tramvai fara a avea neaparat ceva de spus.

Ce nu scrie in articolul ala este ca, pentru a putea fi un ascultator bun si pentru ca toate exercitiile alea de introspectie sa functioneze, ai nevoie de cineva care sa fie, la randul sau, un ascultator bun cu tine. Care sa te puna pe tine pe primul loc (dar cu adevarat, nu doar declarativ – adica sa ii pese mai mult de ala din fata sa decat de rahaturile proprii), macar un pic, si care sa nu raspunda cu “stai sa vezi ce am facut eu” cu scopul de a intra in competitie cu tine, si nici care sa inceapa sa vorbeasca despre un alt subiect, care nu are nicio treaba cu starea ta de spirit sau cu ce spuneai tu mai devreme, rupand cursul conversatiei in mod artificial.

Cineva care sa fie interesat de ce spui, sa-ti puna intrebari, sa vrea sa afle mai multe despre ce ai tu de zis, nu care sa-si spuna “bun, da, te-am ascultat, bravo, ma doare-n cur, acu’ hai sa vorbesc despre mine”. Ce-i frumos e ca nimeni nu o sa se simta vreodata neascultat, pentru ca la un moment dat te saturi de vorbit si ii spui tu celuilalt sa mai zica el/ea de ce-l roade. Si atunci sunteti toti fericiti si cu curatenia la mansarda facuta.

E ca un fel de circle jerk, ca sa ii spun asa, un pic vulgar, in lipsa caruia devii foarte singur intr-o mare de oameni.

Pe vremuri ii zicea prietenie… cand stateai si vorbeai despre chestii toata noaptea, fara sa simti nevoia sa te duci intr-un club zgomotos in care lumea oricum nu vorbeste pentru ca e prea ocupata cu a fi cool in singuratate, si fara sa simti nevoia sa-ti verifici cacatul digital din buzunar, poate-poate iti mai ridica cineva, cu un like, spiritul spart ca o oglinda aruncata-n coltul camerei, in care nu se mai uita nici dracu.

Asta asa, in ceas de noapte si pentru ca suntem toti prieteni aici. 🙂

Prima data

Imi aduc aminte casa in care trebuia sa aiba loc concertul, artistii care-si pregateau instrumentele, zumzetul international al oamenilor care asteptau in timp ce stateau pe unde apucau, inghesuiti pe canapea, pe scaune, pe jos sau in picioare. Eram, amandoi, parte din ceva mare intr-un loc mic.

Poate ignoram cantecul asta daca prima data cand il auzeam nu era dupa ce fusesem deja prea mult timp departe unul de celalalt. Daca nu eram in Cambridge, departe de prieteni si de tot ce a insemnat viata noastra pana atunci. Daca nu ne aveam decat unul pe altul. Daca Joseph & Maia nu ar fi cantat la 2-3 metri de noi, si daca nu eram intr-o camera de zi in care vreo 30 de oameni nu aveau curaj nici macar sa respire.

Ochii cascati mari, pielea gaina si, recunosc, apa care se incapatana sa iasa pe langa gene. Cam ca acum, cand am ascultat-o pentru prima data dupa cateva luni.

… asa ca da, mi-e dor si mi-e urat fara tine.

Mancatul de sub unghii

Daca ii intrebi, sunt cei mai tari din lume, cei mai bogati, cei mai urbanizati, cei cu puterea de cumparare cea mai mare. Ei sunt mai cu mot in frunte si se descurca mai bine de unii singuri, asa ca da-i dracului de Europeni, cu Uniunea lor cu tot. Sunt peste lumea intai, toti ceilalti sunt de cacat. Si mai fac si glume bune.

Avand asta in minte, isi cumpara o casa pe 4 nivele (demisol, parter, etaj 1, mansarda) intr-o zona de super fite, intr-un oras nu tocmai ieftin. Isi cumpara fiecare cate o masina faina, el cu felina pe capota, ea cu multe cerculete si 4×4. Isi cumpara cea mai mare plasma pe care am vazut-o in viata mea, cat un perete intreg (nu exagerez). Nu conteaza ca stau la 2 metri de ea, ca deh, asa sunt livingurile pe aici.

Cu toate astea, cultura locala le spune ca, in acelasi timp, trebuie sa fie “chibzuiti”.

Asa ca inchiriaza mansarda pentru a-si suplimenta veniturile. Fierbatorul de apa care face zgomote dubioase nu e inlocuit, e scos din priza dupa ce e folosit. Masina de spalat trebuie sa spele doar la 40 de grade, programul de juma’ de ora (nu conteaza ca nici nu spala nici nu clateste pe programul ala), ca la 60 de grade si doua ore consuma prea mult curent si apa. Termostatul in casa e setat pe 18 grade, iar caldura merge doar de 3 ori pe zi, cate o ora de fiecare data. Cand gatesc, nu deschid geamul pentru ca iese caldura (nu, nu au auzit de hote) si nici nu inchid usa de la bucatarie, asa ca pute a ceapa prajita de la demisol la mansarda.

Si, pentru ca nimic nu e perfect, uneori incalzirea “se strica”. Curios este ca, de fiecare data, fix romanul si italianul care inchiriaza cele doua camere de la mansarda sunt primii care se prind ca in casa e frig de-ti ingheata cacatu-n mate. Dupa care incalzirea “isi revine”. Miraculos.

Astazi dimineata erau 16 grade in camera, iar in seara asta, cand am ajuns acasa, erau un pic sub 12. M-am dus la proprietara, am intrebat-o daca nu i se pare ca e un pic cam rece, la care ea mi-a pus placa cu “asa e programat, eu nu ma pricep, stie sotul, da’ el nu e acasa”. Ma uit la controller, era pe off, asa ca m-am dus la colegul de mansarda sa il intreb daca nu-l deranjeaza chestia asta. Mi-a zis ca da, dupa care mi-a aratat, discret, aeroterma din coltul camerei. Am dat din cap, m-am incaltat si m-am dus sa-mi iau si eu una. Poza e facuta dupa ce am pornit-o, de aia arata aproape 13 grade. La juma’ de ora dupa ce am luat aeroterma, si-a “revenit” si caldura-n calorifere. Sotul inca nu ajunsese acasa dar controllerul trecuse, miraculos, pe “on”.

Civilizatii astia de care scriu tusesc magareste, pe doua voci, de o luna. Acum cateva zile, ea imi spunea ca nu intelege cum de nu le trece raceala asta odata. Sa le explic?

As prefera sa stau in apartamentul meu din Romania, sa castig mai putin, daca e, dar macar sa am caldura-n casa. Sa o dau dracului de treaba si sa schimb ceva cand se strica, nu sa stau sa astept pana imi ia foc casa din cauza ca mi-a explodat fierbatorul de apa in fata. Sa imi spal hainele astfel incat sa nu imi iasa bube pe piele din cauza ca nu au fost clatite cum trebuie de detergent, si nici sa nu puta a transpiratie cand le scot din masina pentru ca, de fapt, nu s-au spalat.

Casa mai mare, televizor, masini? Ma lipsesc. Prefer sa mananc din farfurie, nu de sub unghii.