On Saturday I attended Camden's first ever housing strategy conference. Never before has the council, any council, involved us oiks in their decision processes.
I met some of the managers who I had written to all last year, year before, year before that, begging, begging for a council flat. I met some of the people who could have used their discretion to house me and my child. Why didn't I ask them why they didn't?
Why was I so goddamn polite?
Why was I so flipping diplomatic?
This is all hindsight of course. At the time, I was so calm. No trace of anger.
"Your job is so difficult," I said to Allocations.
I just stared at Needs when she said "Children are so resilient, they adapt very well to circumstances." Do they? Why didn't I say that?
I just stared at her when she was giggling, nervously perhaps, about a child she knows who's always telling his parents he wants to move house. Why didn't I say anything to that? Why didn't I antagonise? I had plenty of opportunity.
Needs is Strategy now. If she truly believes that children want to move house and adapt very well then her new job is very dangerous to the rest of us.
I wish I'd asked her more about her own situation, if she sleeps in her living room or shares a room with her children. My instinct held me back. Why oh why, stiggers?
If my son had been with me, I would have been different. I would have said "Why didn't the council help us? Why didn't you help him?" I'd have said it to her, I'd have said it to everyone. I'd have used my son. Oh thank you thank you that Juggling Mum stepped in at the last minute to look after him for me, so I wouldn't do that.
I would not have accepted the line I was accepting, that there is not enough properties. The conference was mostly around how to address that very problem.
Strategy (formerly Needs) approached me huh, I didn't approach her. Little would she have guessed. "I wrote to you," I said when I saw her name tape. "Oh you're the bicycle," she said when she saw mine.
Yes, I am the bicycle, I am the child, I am the mother. No, I didn't say that....
I only approached the Councillor for Housing and a co-ordinator on the workshop I attended. I did discreetly look out for names stuck on clothes but didn't see the Chief's PA or whatever her job is - oh yes, to tell me to keep bidding but I'll be unsuccesful. Councillor told me to talk to her about my private sector misgivings. "Her! I wrote to her!" I'd said to him, like I know all these people, when the truth of course is that I don't.
The Director of Needs and Social Care was there. I avoided him. Only at the end, I cut short a conversation with a fellow resident to go and grab him but he'd vanished.
He was the one. He was the one I'd have asked "Why didn't you house us?" He was the one because he has more power than the rest.
Maybe he would have unleashed my anger, for I would told him about the great efforts I made for my son (I never did write to him so I don't know if he'd have heard of me. Maybe he had). It's why I avoided him at the beginning, I'm thinking. It would have upset me and I might have projected that, pointlessly, onto Allocations and Strategy (formerly Needs).
It's a shame I missed him at the end.
Everything happens for the best I guess.