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  • Of course you can't stay in a luxury flat for free forever. Nevertheless, we did pretty well. Gradually, Mr Hoy, the landlord in Hong Kong realised what was - or wasn't - happening. The letters from the agents and the agents themselves began to arrive. I recall it as a time of fear, but also great stridency. I'm really not clear what I felt my defence to be, but I remember trips to the Citizen's Advice Bureau, the free consumer advice service, with letters. Perhaps I wanted our deposit to be taken into account. Our poverty. Our situation. But we hadn't paid rent for at least four months - I think we only paid it once, in fact - and so once we were ejected, we owed around £6,000. Money we didn't have. Knowing that, a County Court Judgement was issued against us to prove that we owed the money and must pay up.
    I may appear to be self-destructive idiot - and it's true - but there's something in me that, like a performing jet fighter at a County Show, always knows how to pull out of a dive. I have no idea what the penantly of non-payment against a Court Order is, but I knew I didn't want find out. And so we had to sort out some money.
    The only source of that kind of cash was Chanson's ex-"boyfriend," Dr. Constantinos Dellaphinos, an extraordinary and terrifying 60-year-old doctor and academic, who lived down the road in a split-level apartment. He would happily dispense any prescription drug, from Viagra to sedatives. Despite being rarely sober, he owned his own practice of about four doctors where he dictated his letters to a secretary via a Dictaphone - something I've never seen before or since. He had a pointy white beard. The chain-smoking Cunty, as we called him, held drug-fuelled dinner parties on his terrace surrounded by young men, some of whom were the friends of his sons. After Chanson, he had graduated to an extraordinarily drippy 21-year-old South African called Peter who showed no inclination to do anything with his life but shop. The pair had blinding rows, breaking up furniture and whatever else they could lay their hands on. I found Cunty terrifying because, as he became increasingly drunk throughout an evening, his accent became thicker and his manner increasingly imperious. I would be collared on all manner of topics and a reply demanded of me even as it became less clear what he was wanting to know. In the atmosphere of privilege that was enough to screw me up altogether. No doubt he was pretty furious at me for having got hold of Chanson, who had, of course, left him.
    Nonetheless, that played in our favour when, despite being constantly pursued by his wife for money, Cunty coughed up the cash.
    It then befell - and what a mighty fall it was to be - Chanson and I to find a new place in London - somewhere not needing a deposit or references - and start paying rent.

    continued ...

    photo Aaron Edwards under CC License.
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