Everything came to a head when two of the girls brought their new boyfriends into the house; a pair of young black guys who dressed hip-hop. Had they met Tony and Jimmy randomly in a bar they’d probably all have had a couple of drinks together and shared a few stories. However, the girls set them up to fight by playing victim and asking their boyfriends to stand up for them.
Tony and Jimmy sussed immediately that the boyfriends weren’t violent men. They were just full of bravado and ghetto talk, accompanied by a little bit of pushing and shoving. It was clear that that was as far as it was going to go. Tony would’ve probably de-escalated a confrontation but it was catnip for Jimmy. He loves provoking others and isn’t averse to kicking off either, especially when drunk. So when the girls goaded their boyfriends into action, it didn’t go as planned.
“You should leave this place. You’re not wanted here.”
“Sorry pal, I’m just not scared of you. You couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.”
As the repartee flowed, the two boyfriends got so worked up they started shouting threats, informing Tony and Jimmy in vague terms about the many kinds of doom that would befall them if they didn’t cease their taunting forthwith, retire to their rooms, and lock the doors. It was at that point that Tony got his mobile phone out and started recording the scene on video.
“Can you say that again? What did you say?” he inquired. The angry boyfriends told him in explicit terms that they intended to do him in.
“Perfect. And how would you do that exactly?” Tony asked, gaining a few more valuable seconds of angry footage. The impassioned threats went on for a while longer until the boyfriends could see that nothing positive was going to come out of the confrontation, and they slinked off.
The next day, Tony and Jimmy went back to the agency.
They sat down and, in grave tones, Jimmy said, “Look, we’ve had death threats from the boyfriends of the tenants.”
“Yes,” Tony added, “we feel unsafe there.” As he showed the agent the video, Jimmy put his head in his hands as he tried to keep a straight face. “So you can see why we’re upset. We fear our lives are in danger.”
Jimmy looked up at the agent with a sigh, and then with just the right hint of desperation in his voice, asked, “Do you have any other property?”
Visions of litigation danced in front of the agent’s eyes. In its desire to avoid a lawsuit, the agency was ready to propel Tony and Jimmy all the way to the top of the queue for a prime property. Their response was immediate. “Well, actually, next week we have this really good place coming up in Hampstead. Why don’t you guys have a look at that?”
Tony and Jimmy looked at each other, and then back at the agent. “Yes. That could work,” they conceded.
They drove out to the property that same day. It was a stunning twenty-five room building in a leafy suburb. As they looked around, Jimmy and Tony could hardly stop laughing.
“Fuck me, this is absolutely incredible. We have to jump on this!”
They then began to negotiate with the agent, saying, “Look, given our bad experience of sharing with people we don’t know, we no longer feel safe with strangers. Could we perhaps fill this place with our friends?”
Agencies view properties as problems to be solved, and whether they are filled with guardians or friends of guardians didn’t matter as long as the buildings were filled and the paperwork filed. Nobody wants a lawsuit.
“This is really quite irregular,” he moaned, straightening his Next polyester tie and shuffling his papers unhappily. “We can hold the property back until the close of business today and no later.”
Which is how I came to receive a phone call from Jimmy while standing in the tiny backyard of my flat, eating a Curly Wurly I’d bought from the corner shop. I was renting my flat from a friend’s wife on a verbal agreement that I could leave with just a month’s notice. There were no contractual issues to moving out quickly.
“Look, we’ve got this amazing place. The location is perfect. It’s massive. It’s cheap. And if any gypsies do come around, you can take first crack at them. But you’ve got to sign up today if you want it. Are you in?”
“Of course I am,” I said. We all were.
Sitting in the office in Islington, my pen poised over the contract, I was given a rundown of our tenancy terms: we would be on two weeks’ notice and could be thrown out at any time, real estate agents could come through with prospective buyers, and we were expected to keep the property clean. I signed contracts, exchanged keys, and walked out into the office lobby where the rest of the RSG gang was sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on rickety chairs each clutching their own signed contract and pair of house keys.
“To Hampstead!” announced Jimmy then strolled out the door like Captain Cook leading his explorers up a mountain trail. The great adventure at Château RSG was about to begin.
If you thought that was awfully long for one chapter, just imagine how long it’ll take you to read the book. It’s got thirty-eight of the fuckers. It’ll take you FUCKING EONS, if you’re dumb enough to try it here.