"The neighbours think you are running a brothel. I would like you to leave within one month."
So began my only personal experience of eviction.
It hardly affected me as I was leaving in a week to get married, but my 3 flatmates had to find alternative accommodation. We were astonished at the allegation. We were not prostitutes. We were not running a brothel. We all dressed modestly, were leading what most people would have regarded as 'good' lives and working in responsible professional jobs with no connections to the sex industry.
When Mr. T. told us he was worried by what the neighbours were saying we wondered how such a rumour could have started. Here is how we explained it. We were 4 young single women, each with a (not living-in) boyfriend/fiance. This meant there were 4 men visiting very frequently as well as other male friends or relations calling in from time to time. One of my flatmates was engaged to a musician who played in the orchestra of an opera house. He would regularly arrive for a late supper after the evening performance and in formal evening dress. Typically he would arrive about 11 pm (or later if it was a Wagner night) and leave an hour or so later. Earlier in the evening on some days there might have been at least 3 other men coming and going at different times.
Our elderly landlord (who lived in the flat below with his wife) was becoming increasingly paranoid about other things worrying him (especially woodworm) - possibly it was the start of dementia. So although we had always paid the rent on time, kept the flat generally clean and tidy and were not noisy, it did not seem worth challenging the request to leave. I left and moved into a flat with my new (and only) husband and my flatmates quickly found a better flat at affordable rent in the next street. It made a good 'dining-out' story, especially as it brought to an end the continuous occupancy of that address for at least 15 years by a succession of Christian women who were members of a well-known evangelical church in central London.
So now you know that I married my husband a few days after being accused of running a brothel. Did I tell you one of our wedding telegrams was from Holloway? Yes, it was - but that's another story. (Holloway is a women's prison in the UK.)
The above story is a complete digression from, but was triggered by, the story of Tita told by Christian Aid's 'Count Your Blessings' Lent calendar today. She and her family were forced off their lands in Colombia. The calendar tells me
"Christian Aid partner Justice and Peace is working to provide legal advice to families like Tita's, to secure legal land titles."I've never experienced being forced off lands that my family has occupied for generations.
Christian Aid suggests giving £1 if you own your home or are a legal tenant with a right to stay in your home. I'm a home-owner, so that's £1. It doesn't seem manage when I've always had a legal roof over my head.