What would you do if you came home to find strangers sitting in your home as if it were their own?
It’s not such a silly question.
Usually it is landlords that have problems with squatters when a property has been left empty awhile. If someone gains entry without actually breaking an entry or causing damage it’s not an easy task to get them to leave and you would have to apply for a court order. This can take quite a number of weeks, if not months in some cases.
Terrible when you think about it, especially if it is your actual home. Some more wealthy people are having to hire security guards to make sure their homes don’t get invaded while they are away.
So how would you react if you came home and found strangers occupying your space?
I had a small taster of what this would feel like many years ago. I was in my late teens enjoying a holiday in France with my best friend. We’d found a lovely youth hostel in La Rochelle and a couple of days into the holiday we hit the beach happy to lie around on it all morning without a care in the world.
Around lunchtime we decided to head back to our room to get changed. When I tried to open the door to our room I found it locked. Suddenly the door opened and a very tall German lad stood grinning at me. I checked up and down the corridor, this was definitely our room so I told him so. Luckily he understood English. He laughed “oh no, it is our room!”
I persisted arguing with him in a nonsensical way until he invited me in to see for myself that our belongings had totally vanished and in their place were rucksacks etc belonging to him and his friends. His friends sat grinning at us, highly amused.
We weren’t amused at all, and somewhat confused we headed to reception and I let forth my best French swear words at the person behind the counter. Immediately we were led to a cupboard where our belongings had been unceremoniously dumped! Apparently they were going to move us to a smaller room but hadn’t expected us back so early.
So I can identify a little with my main character Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords when she returns home to find her key won’t turn in the lock. She lives alone so she knows something is seriously wrong when she can’t get in to her own house. I remembered my confusion and exasperation well when I was writing about hers. Of course her situation is far worse than mine was.
Probably the most amusing thing to come out of my brief experience of having my room invaded by strangers was my friend’s reaction to my sudden ability to swear so eloquently in French! She was very impressed.
Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords has a much more interesting and difficult experience than mine and it goes to show you can’t always know how you will react in such a bizarre situation.
The Eight of Swords is available now on Amazon Kindle, it’s a short story.
Click on the link below to buy. If you don’t have a Kindle you can still download the ebook to your pc or another device.
Author: Petra Kidd
Norfolk UK is my home, I live in Norwich by the River Wensum where everyday there is something different to see and learn.
I feel a big affinity with the river as I grew up in Cambridge, another great river city. My childhood and teens involved many walks along the Cam where we would watch 'The Bumps,' raft races and as we grew older we enjoyed adventures on our punting pub crawls.
Growing up in a multi cultural university city definitely influenced my reading choices, I am a big fan of Japanese fiction, love French literature and enjoy Shakespeare. As a young teen I entertained myself with Jilly Cooper and Dick Francis and then became quite obsessed with Henri Charriere's Papillon. At school all I cared about was English, Art and French, in that exact order. When I finished with school I went to live and work in Greece for a wonderful year before returning to study English Literature and Sociology. At this point I read more classics like the Wyf of Bath, Wuthering Heights and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man plus poets such as Wilfred Owen.
My first UK full time job was with Heffer's Paperbacks where I devoured several books at a time, excited by the fact I could borrow what I liked. Bizarrely for me I remember reading The Zurich Axioms, I have no interest in the stock markets but it had me gripped. I can't remember why I picked it up but I have never forgotten it. Heffers introduced me to so many authors, via their books and sometimes in person. It was here I learned about all the genres, it fascinated me that science fiction and horror were so popular, I tried reading it all.
Aside from writing letters, it didn't really ever occur to me to write anything myself for many years as I worked my way through a variety of interesting and varied jobs. Then on a visit to the London Aquarium I became struck by an idea so powerful I sat down and wrote my first novel. It went nowhere as really I wrote it because I wanted to. I wrote another novel and again, didn't have the persistance or determination to take it further, I simply enjoyed the process of writing and my characters.
Then years later another idea struck me and during a severe bout of Pleurisy where I couldn't do anything physical for months, I wrote the Eight of Swords and The Putsi. This time I published them as ebooks and they became pretty popular. When I fully recovered, I had to concentrate on my business and looking after my mother who has various health issues and the writing went adrift again for many years until 2020 when the Coronavirus pandemic hit the world.
March 2020 I moved to my apartment alongside the Wensum to live alone for the first time ever. During the first lockdown I began to write a diary and then the idea for a new set of short stories came to me and in February 2021 they will be published. The Covid-19 Pandemic is not simply a scary virus, it is a historical time and here we are trying to live through it. To many it will feel like a punishment but to me as a writer, in some ways, it came as a gift.
Please stay as safe and as well as you can. I hope to entertain you with my stories as we all try to get through this together, even though we are apart.
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