The proprietor of the dilapidated dwellings, tight-fisted Rupert Rigsby ,”I try and be more than just a landlord to everyone”, has taken over the boarding-house from his late Father. A house situated in what Rigsby terms as, “a very fashionable area.” He’s even had the Manager of the Co-Op Drapery staying only last year and that can‘t be bad,…. can it? There’s nothing between his house and the Urals, apparently, a house that holds back half the town! It’s so high the house is insured against low ﬂying aircraft! And it’s status Ruth inquires, “Is it free-hold Mr Rigsby?”…”Yes, er well.. not qui…” Rigsby sheepishly replies.
Not surprising then that there’s some shifty sidelines going on about his boarding house, “who said I haven’t paid my rates?, you watch your tongue.” A warning from Rigsby doesn’t stop Philip threatening to pay the Town Hall a visit to complain about his accommodation (sharing with Alan). The merest mention of intervention from any outside authorities and Rigsby’s on edge. And he doesn’t want the Police “Bloody fascist!” sniffing around the house either.
Situated between the Abattoir, which’ll turn your stomach if the winds blowing in the wrong direction, and the Gasometer it’s “..an old house this y‘ know. Very dark, strange things can happen. Been a lot of unhappiness here y’know.” which Alan can Well believe, “I’ve got news for you Rigsby. There still is!”
Most of the rooms are advertised in the local newsagents, one run by Bert Kent – supplier of adult art magazines to Rigsby, and rent is charged at around £4-£6 a week, depending on what mood you get Rigsby in, or if he likes you. The highest known being £12 a week, in advance of course, “That means now!”. A fortnights notice is required on all the rooms, that is if you are desperate enough to stay and don’t mind there being no locks on the doors. There is also a rule of the house that doesn’t allow occupants to bring back friends of the opposite er… sex “You can’t bring a girl back here any bloody night!” Rigsby reminds Phillip.
Rigsby considers all his rooms to be functional with a hint of luxury, “What d‘you expect G-Plan?”, which should appeal to the professional class. In reality the rooms are small and dingy with coconut matting, containing old and tattered furniture from Rigsby’s family with, in most cases, the added worry of water running down the walls, “I’ve told you before it is not damp!”, ensures Rigsby.
The rooms are decorated with heavy wallpaper which, according to Rigsby, makes them look even smaller than what they already are, “All I’ve gotta do is put a phone in.” Rigsby announces though Alan clearly sees the result, “You put a phone in ‘ere it’ll look like a telephone box.” In hindsight he wished he’d used paler colours in the rooms. The rooms are all ﬁtted with gas ovens “Watch that gas!, it‘ll take yer ‘ead off .” and a hot water boiler with a kick on it like a mule. Of course there’s no central heating, “Central heatin‘? Are you mad?” what with the price of fuel, Rigsby’s not shelling out for that. Rigsby’s too concerned about the environment “Conserving World energy!”, and the ozone layer than to worry about the health and condition of his tenants! Besides, Phil won’t be content until the bathroom contains a heated towel rack “You won’t be satisﬁed ‘til it’s like Equatorial Africa in there.” Rigsby does take some pride in the home, he cn occasionally be seen dashing around with the air freshener, “Eh, who’s bin usin’ the downstairs lavatory?” along with the regret of not buying a ﬂuffy toilet seat cover and some new towels, though the old ones are still usable according to Rigsby, “There alright, there‘s still some tread on them.”
Rigsby’s forever pointing out that his humble abode is in need of decorating. The only improvements he ever makes to the miserable surroundings is a slap of paint on the tenants’ doors, including the handles, especially Miss Jones’. Not, of course, in the preservation of the timber but to try and catch Miss Jones in an embarrassing situation, or even the lads.
As well as the attic, Alan and Phil’s room also has running water down the walls, “What d‘you expect Champagne?” the dark and dismal basement is also up for tenancy, “A cosey little spot with a nice view of the road.”, according to landlord Rigsby. That is if you don’t mind mushrooms growing down there and the sight of people’s ankles! Plus the window latches are dodgy and come the Autumn, sudden blow of wind, and you’re covered in a hundred weight of damp leaves.
None of the rooms have keys for privacy, “We don‘t need keys round ‘ere.” as Rigsby insists he needs to have access, besides he’s wary of Phil‘s intentions with Miss Jones. Even the toilet doesn’t have a key! you just have to keep whistling!
However, Alan complains his room’s got rising damp and his furniture is falling to pieces to which Rigsby informs Alan it’s condensation, “How can you have- rising damp in the attic? You’re higher than the crows up there, should be very healthy, like Switzerland….You’re breathing the same air as the Tartars up there y’know…. Should charge you extra!” There’s also something playing havoc with the drains out the back beside the patio. A patio? “Yes, that’s what I said.”, Rigsby confirms. Well, that is if you use your imagination and call 4 fairy lights and a plant stand a patio! Whilst ignoring the tin bath, mangle, and eluding the might of the red ant brigade. The ideal bedsit accommodation for those looking for that extra bout of depression and, of course, a little diversion! Just ask Mr Gray.
“Where do you think you’re gonna find another room in this town?”