I been collecting plants again – snatching security from the jaws of precariarity. Nothing major: just a few ferns in pots. My botany is a big two fingers at one single fact: I will never own a home of my own home.
Does it matter? Yes, to me it does. Ownership is about being firmly rooted in a neighbourhood: of knowing the people next door, and being on chatting terms. So sad to realise life is tenuous, and security so precarious.
It might sound boring but I will never be able to think: this heating is costly and inefficient - I’m sick of being cold so I’ll get new heating installed, maybe even take advantage of government efficiency or green energy schemes. There’s nothing to do but find another blanket and snuggle up.
Having little or no security affects my daily life. I don’t get to choose a cooker, washer or fridge, or rip out the shabby cabinets, or update a shoddy floor. Carpets would be great right now in the draught, but I won’t be paying for any. What’s the point when I could be given two months notice?
Recently I watched a friend clear out her beloved garden, having been given notice for no clear reason. There were well-tended pots of vegetables, and a partially rotted compost heap to relocate (she’d asked for both permission and reassurance she’d be there to benefit.) It was heartbreaking.
I’ve been collecting house-plants after years ago being forced to abandon my prized, beautiful botanic collection. When you never know if, or how long you can stay, and plants will be lost when friends don’t them tend them as you would, or die in storage, it’s a big leap of faith.
Some landlords are restrictive, and that horrible situation of being ‘inspected’ every six months (when did that become the norm?) means that tenants exist on a knife edge. Yes, we know that in theory you could have painted the walls fluorescent green and grow a lawn in the lounge – as long as tenants leave the place as they found it, then there’s nothing that rentiers can do. Except – they would. Inspections are a nervous time, and they shouldn’t be.
Certain rentiers and their agents ensure that the place we pay to live in never feels like home, with no prospect of decorating, or even changing energy supplier (see posts where that is arguable not lawful, but when your lord/lady and master can evict you on an airy caprice, what choice is there?)
Then there’s the furniture thing. We don’t have a culture of unfurnished places, mainly due to insecurity – when tenancies last just six months, who would ever buy freezer? But in my humble opinion, and I know controversial opinion, the PRS would be much better if we could move in with our own trappings – a sofa and a bed. Some people don’t want to stay long term, but most do.
Worse of all there’s no knowing how long I can stay. I can still be given notice on a whim. Planting a garden and buying plants - literally putting down roots - is a one massive leap in the dark.