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post 5 on Thursday 15th February 2007 at 09:38

A Tale Of Stolen Bins

I can hardly believe I've yet to write about the saga of the wheelie bins! A story, which in summation, involves what can only be described as a *shit load* of wheelie bins (belonging to thirteen oak street) being cruelly stolen from the alley.

People take my wheelie bins for what purposes I'm unsure but I’m guessing theft, debauchery, rat storage, police hikes, "oh shit, it's the TV licence van", etc would probably all be accurate if not speculative possibilities.

Just some background: I live in a row of Victorian terrace houses in one of the most run-down and socially deprived areas of Middlesbrough. We share an alley which runs parallel to the length of the houses and, I state this with authority, we ALL should have a wheelie bin - as provided free of charge by Redcar & Cleveland council. The bin men come every other Tuesday (we're supposed to recycle) and apart from myself and Mr. Norman are the only people with access to the alley gates.

Now the bins and their travels have become somewhat of a comedy in this house. Questions such as where do they go? What do they see? What mysterious contents do they harbour on these mystical journeys? etc, all remain unanswered. Just to provoke the tale further (and make my plight seem all the more pitiful) it actually took me three months to get a wheelie bin, after which time two were dispatched by the stupid council; one serving as the alley bin, and the other becoming a very useful "cache" bin.

The first bin to go was an unmarked bin which naked and green was sent to the alley like a lamb to the slaughter. I didn't draw on this bin and that was my first mistake - the bin was taken but the incident was kinda dismissed as a one-off. In fact, due to the cache bin it was almost forgotten about! But then when the cache was stolen it was like WTF? What am I going to do now! So I called the council was given a case number. Can you believe that? A case number! So fully authenticated we trotted down to yon tip in Redcar to get a new wheelie bin.

Enter bin number three - trundling into the alley like the car outta Grease, rising up from the mist of its own excellency and fully inscribed with more identifying marks than a police line-up. BUT IT WAS STILL STOLEN!

After a four week sabbatical, during which time the rubbish was just flowing from the back door, the bin returned as is nothing had happened. The only clue was a dead rat lay at its wheels ... make of that what you will. Where from here? Well, I'm considering RFID and GPS technology. But I’m leaving this post open for more news. I’m sure there’ll be some. As Dad would say “you couldn’t make it up”.

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ culture ] [ rants ] [ south bank ]
post 7 on Friday 23rd February 2007 at 21:28

Pizza: Always Wizhin Dhze Hour

Ever had one of those everything's-a-pound-land scenarios when the same question is directed time and time again to the same person who gives the same answer but the asker just wants to hear it? Now is one of those times.

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ south bank ]
post 9 on Thursday 1st March 2007 at 23:53

In Like A Lion

Whilst languishing today, I noticed it’s the first of March, which is always a date for my calendar. Why? It’s the first wash day of course! – no not mangles or carbolic, I mean, it’s dry enough to hang your smalls out isn’t it? That means line fresh baby – even in South Bank – where the air lingers with the smell of coke (that’s pre-burned carbon deposits that work like coal to anyone under fifty) and fried onion bhajis from the Imperial Food Park.

All the plants here at Oak Towers have reanimated – the word from the windowsill is that the geraniums, honeysuckle, clematis and jasmine are all experiencing an abundance of buddage. Yay, seed time! You see there aren’t many plants in my garden. In fact, there are more inside than out. So if we have a death in the family it’s a serious loss to stock. Luckily, since the great slug slaying of 2006 we’ll be having no more casualties.

Oh and there was a fruit fly in the kitchen. So there you go – it MUST be the first day of spring - and even South Bank knows it!

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ domestics ]
post 12 on Tuesday 6th March 2007 at 12:11

A Tale Of Stolen Bins pt II

Bin number two has returned! Welcome back cache-pig bin! The deviously but insufficiently masked scribing of the neighbours was evidently no match for my indelible pen! The question remains whether I shall reclaim what is rightfully mine and surreptitiously pull the bin to the bosom of my backyard? Or shall I cast it to the eternal torment of number three/seven/nine?She's leaving

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ crime ] [ south bank ]
post 13 on Thursday 8th March 2007 at 11:52

Garden 2.0

Bloomin' wonderful!I've just finished the start of this year's gardening attempt. If gardening is anything like being at University, which - hang on - It is JUST like University - all down to the first year of gardening in ANY garden being totally redundant. All you can hope for are cheap fixes - because nothing counts towards anything and you're simply giving the garden momentum to gear up for the second year, where all the action lies.

The bulbs I thought never came up did. The honeysuckle that was devoured stealthily and without detection for some months, from the root, is now spreading itself far and wide along my Venetian wall, overlooked by Steve's Rose, an octogenarian of the rose world, and only just a challenge to the beauty of the honeysuckle in full bloom.

The grape hyacinths are popping up. Even the garlic is resprouting. The failed poppies from last year have also made a reappearance! How AMAZING it is that spring is here! And as for cheap fixes - I don’t even need to go to B&Q!

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ domestics ]
post 17 on Friday 30th March 2007 at 12:00

Run, It’s The Pigs

RobocopWhat is it with Oak Street? Why is it full of lecherous criminal scum? As I type, the Police are hammering down the door of number eleven. Last year my house was stormed by a SWAT team, some on horseback, six on foot (four of which feet made light work of trampling my Convolvulus to oblivion), allowing them to gain access to a house up the road via my back yard. Am I the only person stupid enough to allow such intrusion? Is it the law to let four brick-shit-house Police men storm my palace? As it happened, I was doing something illegal myself at the time, and was highly paranoid. But they didn’t get me. Thinking back on it, I needn’t have worried. Smoking grass to them is like a walk in the (druggie filled) park compared with the shit they put up with in Middlesbrough.

There are nine houses on this street. Of those houses there are only two that use their yard for anything other than a refuse dumping ground. It annoys me that my local friendly Police service think it’s OK to treat us all like dogs. I blame Ray Mallon and his Robocop tactics. What can you do? Smile, say "yes officer" and keep smoking your drugs to block it all out?

I think a society makes itself, say what? Knock it all down. Great stuff.

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ boro ] [ crime ] [ domestics ] [ ray mallon ] [ south bank ]
post 22 on Sunday 22nd April 2007 at 20:47

Riverside Pizza, Previously

"How long mate?"
"Wizhin dhze hour"

Knock at the door
"Zats ninepound eighty plize" [sighs]
Hands over ten pounds
"Don’t worry about the change"
Keeps on foraging for change
"Keep the change"
"Oh sorry bizy nayt you know?"

Yeah I know. I’ve been kept waiting by you for ONE HOUR and ten minutes and I've been waiting for you to fuck on with your change unnecessarily for the last two of those minutes.

When you say wizhin dhze hour, you should be within the hour, my man!

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ domestics ] [ south bank ]
post 23 on Monday 23rd April 2007 at 16:36

Life In Slaggy

Dorman Long, last seen chucking out effluent from a chimney near you...Betwixt hell and high water
Is a town named South Bank
Can’t count on a local
Whose outlook is rank
Bum blatant he may
With no job to fill
Spending all day
In William Hill
On Fridays comes market
And the yokels will shout
"Get us some bait"
From "Eat Your Heart's's Out"

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ poems ] [ south bank ]
post 41 on Saturday 4th August 2007 at 02:27

Crimes Against Normality

A youthOK so you've probably heard by now some of the sagas connected to the criminal damage that's been too regular a feature in my life over the last 9 months.

When I first moved to South Bank, I couldn't quite understand what the fuss was about. Criminal damage? Surely if you had an alarm on the house, an adequate insurance package, and the right attitude towards keeping the locals happy, everything would be OK?

I clearly just didn't get it.

These aren't hardened criminals looking for heists on Grannies Wedgwood figurines, nor are they in any way associated with some romanticised idea of bygone robberies – bags of swag and harmless goons and all that.

No, these are obnoxious and wicked kids; a group of young lads no older than 18, who maraud the streets of South Bank in the small hours with a mélange of weaponry including knives, chains, and bricks.

It started off with the breaking of the rear passenger window of my trusty Ford Mondy. I came down one morning to find it had been smashed through, yet amazingly, not a thing had been taken from the inside (which incidentally contained the CD player which I'd forgotten to unhide from the glove box, and a good fifty CDs). Although a relatively harmless incident, I think this first time perhaps felt the worst for me, as I gained the realisation that I was no longer living within a crime-free bubble. It hit me quite hard, but I tried to make sense of it by stashing it away in my brain under "one-off incidents".

To err on the side of caution, I was now sure to lock the car away every evening. But even locking it in the alley every night wasn't enough to protect it from my local friendly hooligans: no – they somehow managed to manoeuvre their red house bricks over the 8ft alley gate to land beautifully and gracefully upon my rear windscreen, rendering it down to the shards and cubes that would later become wedged in my backside.

On a third occasion, my front windscreen was broken too.

Then the abuse on the house started, and I waved goodbye to any sense of security, whilst desperately trying to figure out how I could raise the £200+ needed to repair the window. Luckily, a friend of 13 Oak was able to help, and the whole debacle cost just pounds to straighten out.

But now, as I sit here protecting what is left of my belongings; with two broken bay windows and three slashed tyres, I start to see the severity of the situation. Not only do I lose a days pay, hours of sleep, and quality time with my fella; I also have lost my peace of mind. Because I can’t explain why four or five youths would target my house, break the windows, and slash my car tyres at 1.30am, and be seen on the horizon; brandishing a blow torch in my general direction. What makes me stand out amongst my neighbours?

I certainly have things they don’t have: I have a car, I have a job: two very normal things, in a normal society. I have a way out of here. They are stuck here indefinitely.

And so I sit here at 2.00am, sipping coffee to keep myself awake, jumping at every noise, and unable to get into my own bed to sleep for fear of being attacked. I can't use my car. I can’t get to my job. And what have they gained? Do they feel happier for stripping me of my ability to keep moving forward? I doubt it.

But maybe this is the push I need, to help me move forward, to make me see I am different and that it's better that way. I don't belong here, sad to say. It's not a crime to be normal.

So Monday I pay a visit to the Citizen's Advice Bureaux. I find out how I can get out of here, and I go. So you see, young thugs, you're actually doing me a favour. Bet even your own Mums' didn’t think you would be so helpful. Cheers lads.

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ boro ] [ class divide ] [ crime ] [ rants ] [ south bank ]
post 51 on Saturday 26th January 2008 at 09:00

South Bank – Au Revoir!

Scarily like South BankTo those who don't know, I bought and moved into my house: 13 Oak Street, South Bank, Middlesbrough, in July 2004.

During that memorable summer, I can recall jubilantly sitting with my back against the bedroom wall (there was a time when you could sit on the floor, before water started seeping up), listening to next door's wind-chimes, and feeling very peaceful, exited, and also very grown up – for this was my first house! Oh the expectations, dreams, and plans I had for this place when I first moved here!

Since that time I have experienced full on disasters of Biblical proportion – lightening from the sky, famine, plague, flood, and pestilence.

A selection of such include:

Rats. Rats in the house. Rats outside of the house. Rats in the alley. Just rats!!

Mice in the toaster. Really. In the time it took me to pop a crumpet in the toaster, a crafty mouse had crept into my beautiful (£35) Morphy Richards four-slice, and was still nibbling away whilst I plunged down the handle, at the same time wondering why there was an unusual resistance in the plunge, and subsequently pondering the whiff of burning hair mingled with the smell of crumpet. Curiously, the mouse survived; although the toaster was relegated to the shelf.

Slugs. Many a morning I come downstairs to find a silver trail leading from the front door to wherever it is my invertebrate friends drag themselves to during the night. Also, in a strange yet amusing travesty, are sometimes seen feasting on the odd stray salted peanut in the kitchen. Amusingly, this only happens between the hours of 2:00am to 6:00am.

Flies. And bluebottles.

Draining Power. Dim-witted next-door neighbours - the "Power Rangers" - who wired their meter through our meter.

Cutting power. Resulting in our power being cut on Boxing Day.

The kitchen flooding. Came back from holiday to find the rats had chewed through the washing machine pipes resulting in a half a meter flood of the kitchen.

Lack of central heating. How anyone lives in a house like mine I'll never know.

Rising damp. A botanists dream, my house is probably home to innumerable species of fungi and mushroom.

Things got a little better when my brother moved in. Even though he now, too, was required to live with afore mentioned difficulties, at least I had somebody to share life's problems with; and, I'd like to verify at this stage, that Nick's a tough wee soul, and like the true Capricorn mountain goat, is hardy and not adverse to tough conditions.

Not to mention the crimes:
Breaking windows in the car three times
Smashing my front windows twice
Cutting my phone lines

And inconveniences:
Four Police men storming my house to gain access to the back alley

So you could hardly blame me for being very pleased that we'll be out of here in six weeks.

Watch out Guisborough! The South Bank intelligentsia are coming your way.

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ crime ] [ domestics ] [ guisborough ] [ south bank ]
post 55 on Wednesday 16th April 2008 at 17:12

Demolition Is Nigh

I've really don't have the time to write, and evidently there's been little in the way of posts for quite some time, but I am taking a break from this temporary hiatus from real life as we know it, in order to post the latest and greatest Oak Street news – which is the arrival of the demolition men in Redcar Road, which runs parallel to Oak Street.

Good job we've got a date for moving out then - the 24th! And after the house sale at Guisborough fell through, we'd been searching frantically for a new place to live, and we've found it - in lovely Norton! A stones throw from work, sunny, duck pond-esque, and a million miles away from South Bank, metaphorically speaking!

Here's to new beginnings. I hope they turn South Bank into something nicer. Like a gypsy encampment. Or a parking lot. Only kidding. Here’s to South Bank! You've brought me many a wrinkle, and I dare say a grey hair or two, but there's nowhere like you on earth – rest in peace!

tags: [ 13 oak street ] [ norton ] [ south bank ]