“Hello, yes, this is John Burt, yes I did, yes yesterday, about the roof, I called to see when you are coming to fix... yes I know but you said, well ok but oh...” “Well goodbye to you too” finishes John to the now dead phoneline.
Tipping water from the crown of his soaking bowler hat into the bucket by his feet, he sighs then goes to the kitchen, kettle on, hissing steam, gurgling water wafting fragrance of India, no sugar just milk, dripping ceiling dropping rain into sink, lucky not the electrics, carries the full steaming mug through to the back door, where he journeys through across the rough lawn to an old tent pitched there. Untying and unzipping the doorway, he crouches through it, then turns to sit on his sleeping bag and leans forward to re-close the door.
He feels a cold wet trickle down the back of his neck and realises that he's forgotten to take off his hat. Damn rain, damn cold, wet hat, wet hair.
Unzipping the doorway again, he shakes the sodden hat around in the general direction of outside but there's not a lot of point, it's still chucking it down out there and all he has achieved is to spray the inside of the front of the tent with droplets. That'll help make it even more musty. Bloody roof. Bloody landlord. Bloody government. Horrible bloody world. Hate it. Hate it all. No I don't, it'll get better, it has to, it can't get worse. How long? When? When?
In the half light of the tent, he sits with a torch and a newspaper. The newspaper gets wet from his dripping hands and the corner tears and sticks to his forefinger. He wipes drops from his glasses, finds the puzzle page and scribbles as he drinks his tea. The pen makes a hole through the page.
He's cold. His jumper has drops glistening on the knitted wool. He dabs the newspaper over his body, absorbing the wet, takes off his trousers with their wet cuffs, then wriggles his way through the top of the sleeping bag down into the depths of quilted comfort. His woollen jumper would keep him toasty. Although it is a bit damp too.
A sleep couldn't do any harm. Switching off the torch, he lays his head on the dry part of his crumpled trousers and listens to the rattle outside. The sides of the tent move almost like breaths. He can make out the mould spots near the seams where it isn't quite waterproof any more.
Nothing like being in a tent to feel a part of nature. Each drop hits the canvas and sounds like rice being poured into a saucepan. Bang bang bang. Splat splat splat. As if time had slowed, each tiny sound in all the detail explodes around his ears. But at least this was by design rather than by fault.
So annoying back in the house, with the roof leaking and drops clanging into metal pails, and having to carry them full to the sink where the water flowed down into the drains that it should have gone into from the guttering. Damn landlord. This shouldn't be like this. How can they think it's ok for someone to live sorry exist this way. Bloody greedy capitalists. Bloody society. Bloody government. Who needs them! Wish I didn't. Wish I could get a council place. Wish I had money so I didn't need help. Wish I could work more. Wish wish just well different something somebody hell this is hell except hell is hot not wet and leaky but well ugh stop stop stop
Damn, he needs a pee. Unzip the tent, poke out head, oops need my hat again, put cold wet hat on damp hair, sprint across the lawn in jumper and boxers, into the house, phone is ringing. “Hello, yes, John Burt here, yes, thank you for calling back, yes I understand but can you..” “Well goodbye again” growling into nobody's ear.
Enter bathroom, why did I leave lid down, now water's gone all around loo instead of in it, stupid stupid. Lid up, ohhhh ffff... ouch! Ow ow ow ow ow my head! Oh God I can't get up. Ow it hurts... oh no how can this be happening? At least it's warm... oh boy laying in my own pee... help.. no can't let anyone see this, I'll be ok. Ugh it smells ugh I smell ugh
He shakes his head in disgust, grabs towel drops it on floor wipes smears sticky damp still smells.
Grabs side of bath, hauls up, collapses over side. Cold in here. Cold. Hard. Need warm. Tap on, water gushes. Plug in. Can see water dripping through ceiling into toilet. Hope it doesn't overflow. Course it can't, it's not a bucket. Silly silly. Tired. Warm. Pee flowing, no it's bath tap, nice warm. Bath filling up. Lovely, relax now. Sigh. Nice wet. Wet in the right place. Good. It's getting dark outside. Rain hitting window. Wind getting up too. Water gushing. Can't reach light. Can't be bothered anyway. Stay here. Comfortable.
He smiles and his eyes drift shut. Eyelids flicker as he dozes.
Warm all over. Lovely sunshine. Mustn't get sunburn. Lotion everywhere. Yes face. Yes ears. Yes hair. Fresh air. Wet air. Splutter. Choke. What!
He jerks awake, drowning, sits up, coughing, wiping face with wrinkled hands. It's dark. Can't see a damn thing. Water's gone cold. Out I get. Towel. Light. Cough cough. Damn.
Walk to bedroom. Wet feet on wet carpet. Bucket full and waterfall onto floor. Pick up bucket, tip down kitchen sink, back to bedroom, bucket under leak, find pyjamas, robe, slippers. Yes soft and warm. Need a cuppa. Slippers squelch on wet carpet back to kitchen, steaming kettle, steaming mug, smell steam lovely tea, sips, smell damp hear drips drips drips.
Another wet night. Tomorrow should be better. Hope so. Flippin' heck can't do this much longer. Bloody landlord. They'd better fix it. They really had better fix it. They'll bloody get it if they don't. I'll phone them again tomorrow.
He opens the back door and heads back out to the tent in the rain.