• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 12
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I once squatted a flat in Crystal Palace, sliding a plastic bank card vertically down the lock to coax the door, heart in my mouth each time, until the brass slipped and the spring gave. A run down Victorian house near the park, badly converted into student flats. I’d rented it to begin with, but when the contract lapsed and my course ended and I gave the key back, I stayed on. I think I felt it was so shit they owed me something. Or maybe I hadn’t worked out what you did next. The flat was on the first floor, up a fire escape. There were two big rooms, one looking out on a garden I never went in, and the other, overlooking the main road, where I slept. I joined two single matresses together by the handles with cable ties to make a double. The carpet was rank. There was an ornamental balcony through the sash window that I would climb out onto, though I don’t remember why, as you could smoke anywhere then, and I did. It was hip-height and full of dead leaves. The sort of balcony you might wave from. The woman upstairs was a student at the Laban. She had a Psychedelic Furs poster in the kitchen, and she played Downtown over and over, for weeks, choreographing something ironic that made the ceiling bounce. Eventually the landlord served me with some papers, and I found a room in Brixton. Last time I saw the house, the balcony had fallen off. Probably the weight of snow.