Previously on My Weird House Share (I): Getting to know the oddness:
It got even better when the noisy Willy moved out.
The quiet – and the peace – did not last long. In November a new tenant moved in to Willy’s old room. It did not take long for that tenant to be issued with a nickname.
The Creeper had arrived.
We were told about The Creeper’s (although he had yet to be assigned that name) pending arrival in October, via a note from the Landlord on the whiteboard. It didn’t say much. The Creeper was a retired head chef in his 60s, who had recently returned to the UK after some time spent in Thailand. Given that his real name sounded very white, we snickered.
But we also checked ourselves. Older white guys can go to Thailand for all sorts of legitimate reasons, right? What if he was just a hippy? That’d be fine.
And then he turned up, looking quite a bit like the creepy old man in Home Alone. With added thick-rimmed, fish-bowl glasses and a horrible beige coat. But unlike the creepy old man in that film, The Creeper never turned out to be a misunderstood old gent with a heart of gold.
Now, I am not a morning person, and certainly don’t care for company over breakfast. But only a few days into The Creeper’s stay was I in the kitchen, standing over the sink and waiting for the kettle to boil. He came in with a cheery ‘morning!’, as he fumbled about behind me. The kettle clicked. Before I had a chance to pour, he swooped in, and he took the hot water. My hot water. Without even asking me. That was his first black mark.
Nonetheless, I felt compelled to make small-talk.
“So, been over in Thailand have you?”
“Oh yes. Retired out there. And even manage to bag myself a wife!” he said, with a chuckle, almost conceited, that seemed to say “I’m a big white stud!”.
“But I had to come back!”, he explained, “The value of the Pound fell against the Baht, so I had to come back!”
By now I had discerned that he was prone to rambling, in his high-pitched, nasal voice. He was one of those people who can’t stand a silence, so they fill it with drivel.
“I lost so much weight when I was out there!”, he said, indicating his braces, “I gave up drinking beer!”
To turn again to his appearance, he was indeed thin remarkably thin. Long and lanky, he really did need those braces. You could see bones sticking out from beneath his clothes like the hide upon a famished ox. His deadful visage was hideous to behold. It was punctuated by black, peg-like teeth that looked the remains of an Iron Age post structure uncovered from a haunted fen. And his pallor was profound, the almost dazzling whiteness tempered only by the channels of a few dark, cold veins. His fingers, less like claws, were more like the tendrils of some lichenous life-form that grows upon headstones in gloomy, forgotten and ivy-strewn graveyards.
It is, of course, quite wrong to judge someone based on their appearance. But my anger at the kettle incident was compounded by a growing sense of dislike. He was so awkward in manner, and had no respect for personal space – constantly leaning around or over me to get something that he wanted. And while he gabled in conversation, he was also very difficult to talk to – only ever talking about himself, but always in vague and evasive terms.
His habit of joining me in the kitchen at breakfast time did not relent. I was forced to change my routine. Beyond my antipathy to company in the AM, he just somehow made me feel so uncomfortable. I got up earlier and earlier to eat in the morning, but could never relax. When would he come through that door? My shoulders were wound tight like springs.
Sometimes he would get up even earlier than me, to get his cuisine going in the slow cooker. I hid in my room, sometimes going to work without any breakfast just so I could avoid him. Sometimes thirst and hunger would make that impossible, and I would have to go downstairs and, out of politeness, engage in unenjoyable conversation.
Now here’s a thing for a retired head chef. All – and I do mean all – of his food looked like sick and smelt like shit. And always batches of the same few meals. Shepherds’ pie, bolognaise, coronation chicken and chilli con carne.
But he clearly had a good opinion of his culinary skills. One evening, Mr B came in with a takeaway curry.
“Oh”, The Creeper said, “I never get curry from an Indian. I can make it better myself!”. My olfactory senses begged to differ.
Out of curiosity, one day I asked him where he had worked as a head chef.
“Oh, I worked at the same place for over twenty years!”
“Oh, where abouts?” I replied.
“In a prison.”
Stay tuned folks, and find out what happens next in another exciting episode of My Weird House-Share.