Pirates or Scavengers.
Neat rows of finely sliced smoky bricks, forming endless lines of houses that stretch well beyond the horizon, peculiarly dressed vociferous people, rebelliously tanned all year round in this specific shade of pink that one’s skin might get if bravely and consistently exposed to the fury of the elements, and rather monotonous rain drops kindly salute us upon our arrival. Such a lovely and charming welcoming, we cannot fail recognizing, might only come true in England. Particularly Northern England. Sheffield, to be precise.
It all feels familiar; we have acquired the ability to distinguish between the different tones of grey and green. It is just another return to the UK. We have both previously spent a few years there, but taking into account that we are just arriving from our first travel to “the end of the world” and merely possess two backpacks stuffed with basic essentials like clothes, sleeping bags, maps and tooth brushes, along with wallets that serve mostly as photo cases and not much else, it doesn’t feel particularly homey. We know that we are going to spend at least a year in that fancy department of the great spacecraft, commonly referred to as the Earth, on its annual cruise around the Sun and we melancholically ponder upon the ways available for two destitute foreigners to manage their way through.
Naturally, we decide, the first thing to do when on a long journey and on-board is to find a comfortable ‘seat’ and head straight into the welcoming arms of friends of friends, the eternal saviours of tired wanderers. Luckily, while residing at theirs, we notice that there are plenty of old and empty ‘derelict seats’ all around town and thanks to the Council’s surprising advices on housing it occurs to us that ‘hitching’ an abandoned house sounds like a reasonable option.
No sooner said than done and we are on the second floor of a two story house overlooking a nineteenth century cemetery, currently a park and a stage for low cost horror movies. The proximity of a graveyard with cracked and opened tombs gently adorned by vine-like vegetation and a bunch of neighbours next door that could be most neutrally described as dodgily bizarre do not suppress our enthusiasm. At least in broad daylight. Unfortunately, a few days later, while armed with weapons for exterminating dirt, hectically cleaning our new home an expected but unwelcome guest rings the bell once and then embarks on a ferocious ‘knocking’ from all directions threatening the very integrity of the house. Soon, the guests multiply and we can count a party of few cars, a van and altogether nine grumpy policemen serving their duty, accompanied by a dog that is either exceptionally raged at something or likes painting foam make up around its jaws in accordance with some new vogue we are not familiar with. Lecturing the police on the nature of private property and quoting Proudhon or Emma Goldman would be fruitless. However, showing them a printed copy of British law, helpfully presented to us by the Advisory Service for Squatters, causes a confusion, but alas, evanescent and quickly overcome. Apparently, when one is in the position of ultimate power, the law is only an annoying vain talk that happened to be written on pieces of scattered papers.
After a short brawl that attracts the residents of the whole neighbourhood, and when all hopes for positive outcome seem frozen, miraculously, reason prevails and the legal owner of the house we moved in, takes on from where we failed and manages to convince the crowd in uniforms that symbiosis is not a crime and shortly disperses them. We will help him renew some of his abandoned houses and will maintain this one in good shape, while in return we can stay in; an arrangement, perfectly sensible, that restores our faith in the capability of man to reason.
The conductors are gone and we have successfully checked-in. We cordially thank our new host, Alan, and walk up the creaking stairs to celebrate with a bottle of Rekordelig and enjoy the marvelous view of crumbling tombs. Life just goes on.