Over the years I think I’ve become a generally placid chap – nothing really rattles me. Of course I am moved by genuine tragedy such as the catastrophies in New Zealand that has made so many people homeless and the floods in neighbouring Australia.
These events put into sharp focus the one thing that does make my blood boil – this disgusting thing called legal squatting.
It’s not the actions of the squatters themselves that makes the red mist descend, it’s the law itself.
We’ve lost the plot in this fine ours where the world’s drifters and ne’er-do-wells can hitch a free home.
It’s not the actions of the squatters themselves that makes the red mist descend, it’s the law itself
Take Guy Ritchie, for example. I don’t know him and he’s never invited me for a beer in his Mayfair pub The Punch Bowl, but I am sure he’s a decent sort.
As you probably read in the newspapers, he vacated his London house in Fitzrovia so it could be renovated. Instead some squatters moved in and he needed a court order to get them out.
We are good at casting a sanctimonious glance at other country’s cultures if only to prove how righteous we are in the UK but could you see this happening anywhere else in the world?
I’ve just come back from Dubai where they don’t publish crime statistics because there is virtually no crime.
If you steal a Mars bar there they chop your hand off – extreme I know but you understand the point I am making.
The only reason why squatting is a problem here is because our legal system allows it to happen with no deterrent.
It’s all part of the same thinking that puts you behind bars if you catch a machete-wielding burglar on your landing at 2am and decide to give him what for.
And it gets worse – I give you a modern day hero named John Hamilton Brown who I think deserves a knighthood.
He owns but can’t live in a five-bedroom house in Archway, north London as it is now occupied by squatters.
This man has more restraint than my underwear because if it were me I would have taken a stronger approach. But not our Hamilton Brown, because he did the right thing and applied for a court order.
Now get this bit – the squatters were given legal aid to fight their so-called case and because this is the UK they won.
As if it couldn’t get worse, the squatters are from countries where if you pulled a stunt like this you’d spend the next 20 years digging up salt in Siberia.
But don’t panic, an Englishman’s home is his castle – yeah right.