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Posted Friday, October 14, 2005

AT 12:10 PM the management agency's inspector duly comes, and conducts a courteous inspection, even taking off her shoes so as not to damage our highly polished floors.

click for originOctober 13, 2005 (Thursday)
London (England)

WE HAVE SETTLED into the new Queen Anne's Gate apartment well, but in the morning a letter comes from the managing agents, F., stating that they will come to inspect at noon with a representative of the owner, and will use their own keys if necessary to gain access; we can be present during the inspection if we wish.

What's that? -- We have barely been here two weeks.


AT one minute past midday, Sky News announces the death of Harold Pinter, one of Britain's leading playwrights, at 75; then the newsreader corrects herself, he has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and not the two favourite contenders. This is surely a deserved award, even though it does smack of the "lifetime achievment" Oscar (Pinter has cancer).

Pinter's plays were of the dreary kitchen-sink variety, but he has used his reputation since then on great moral rights issues, including the barbarity of mine-warfare and the illegal invasion of Iraq (calling Mr Sanctimonious Blair a "deluded idiot" and President George W Bush a mass murderer. They are not reported to have sent congratulations to him.


 reception room

AT 12:10 PM the management agency's inspector duly comes, and conducts a courteous inspection, even taking off her shoes so as not to damage our highly polished floors. We express mild surprise as such an early inspection, but have no other problems; we point out some minor defects, and mention the grubby seat covers, and she leaves after half an hour.

A few minutes later she rings the doorbell again -- there is another person who wishes to come in and inspect, it turns out. A stout, stocky, balding, fiftyish gentleman, but evidently no gentleman, with a loud and common North London voice; he introduces himself as "Mr Fox", on behalf of "the owner," as he emphasises, and states that he has a right to come as often as he wants to inspect the premises.

This is getting tedious, as I have much to do today. I begin showing him too around, but he marches off ahead, camera in hand, opening doors, wardrobes, drawers, and cupboards at will. He is uninterested in the kitchen and bathrooms. He seems to have an agenda somewhat, ahem, unrelated to property-management. "What kind of books do you write?" "Biographies."

"Mr Fox" is uncouth and belligerent, tramps around the apartment on heavy-soled shoes, opening cupboards, shooting away left and right with his digital camera, lifting drapes and curtains, re-entering the end bedroom through the closed doors without so much as a knock, although I say, "I am afraid that the lady is ill in bed --" ("No difference, I've the right to go where I want!"). He turns on the light, tramps around that room too, photographing.

He takes pictures of everything, especially my books and papers; he finds a filing cabinet in a cupboard and snorts, "A file cabinet!" I say, "Yes, it belongs to the owner, Mr L."

I ask Miss N. of the managing agency to witness all that has gone on, and state firmly that in view of this episode we shall deal only with them in future, and that we do not wish to have further such harassment. In fact I decide that if he returns I shall ask for the police to be present, as he seems capable of violence.

"Mr Fox" sneers that the books look heavy, and that there seems to be a lot of equipment. Yes, there is a copier, a desktop computer (in Jessica's room -- it's hers), and a fax machine. "I am a professional writer," I add, and say that each heap of books (about forty inches high) is one person's weight, and that the entire heap in the entrance passage probably has the same weight as three people, "or two of you," I pointedly add, my patience drained -- at which he snarls that he does not wish to be insulted, and appends the angry remark that I am as large he is. Quite true, but I am six foot two, and he is not.

I wonder what he would say if the normal tenant with a bookshelf of say five hundred books were here: but my entire library is still AWOL in the hands of the government Trustee.

He says to me as he leaves, "We know who you are, Mr Irving" or words to that effect -- which rather gives his game away. My name is not on the lease.


IT has been an unpleasant visitation, and frankly it leaves me physically trembling. After all the trouble we have had to find a suitable home, and to make it financially possible … Young Miss N. stands behind "Mr Fox" shrugging and pinking with embarrassment, and apologizes for his behaviour.

During the afternoon we fax a letter to the management agency, ending:

-- In view of this man's minatory attitude we intend to deal only with [your agency]; we do not want any such further harassment, as this man's visit clearly was. We seek your assurance that we will be allowed the uninterrupted enjoyment of our lease without future such visitations. There is no lawful reason why the owner should wish to send his own man in, for whatever purpose, to invade our privacy like this.

I have been upset all day by the episode. At 6:15 pm I phone [legal counsel]: he confirms that the lease certainly has a clause or covenant guaranteeing us the uninterrupted enjoyment of the lease, and that such behaviour is a serious breach of the covenant. If is repeated we would have a claim for damages against the owner.

That gentleman is already in difficulties with the U.K. Inland Revenue, as their Debt Enforcement Team stated when they rang our doorbell a few days ago looking for him.

He has moved to Palm Beach, Florida. Despite today's incident, we wish him well in his new home. The enforcers did not ask for his address, and we did not volunteer it to them.


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© Focal Point 2005 F DISmall David Irving