Paul Routledge quips awkwardly about “getting the chair leg” out on “bad tenants”

Paul Routledge, founder of tenant “lifestyle referencing” site Landlord Referencing, having a little joke here with presenter Vanessa Warwick about “getting the chair leg out” on what we must assume are people he would consider to be bad tenants. The exchange occurs about a minute into the video.

VW: “I’ve heard some entertaining stories; um, I’ve heard a gentleman suggesting that when you have a bad tenant, you get the chair leg out…”

PR: “Aaah… Well no, he ah, ah that was his suggestion, he turned around and he said – I don’t think he was – I think he might have been Russian actually – I don’t – [in heavy accent] “We don’t need that, ah we get the chair leg” ah that was a bit Greek wunnit? Heh, a heh, heh – My Russian’s rubbish… Erm… but he, yeah “get the chair leg out”. I said “I don’t know if we can do that anymore really but you know… [indecipherable] if we could get the chair leg out it would probably solve a lot of problems” but -“

VW: “But seriously though you’re a professional landlord…”

This exchange is obviously referencing a conversation that Vanessa and Paul had off-camera with the “Russian” gentleman in question. I had a similar exchange outside a gay bar in Soho last year, where a Ukranian bouncer was talking about how he has to put up with too much rudeness from some of the male clientele, and how in the Ukraine, bouncers carry weapons and people look the other way if a gay man is beaten up. I asked him whether he actually wanted to beat up gay men who were rude to him in his job, and he said “No, of course not, but I would like respect”. I think he was angry because he knew that gay men would be less likely to be rude to him if he was working in his home country; but the reason why they would be more polite would be the fear of violence, not because they thought he was a good person – so to my mind that is a poor form of respect.

In this very similar exchange that Paul and Vanessa reconstruct between themselves – amidst awkward guffaws and giggles – it seems very apparent that Paul Routledge has issues with being treated respectfully. He seems to be fondly remembering a time when the threat of the “chair leg” – or other such tool of violence – was part of the private landlord’s arsenal when it came to tenant management. Routledge’s lifestyle referencing agency is a “chair leg” that he can get away with wielding, and is entirely to do with the “attitude” and “lifestyle” of the tenant, not their payment record or stewardship of the property.

Paul Routledge was evidently not a well-respected landlord when he couldn’t threaten his “disrespectful” tenants. I believe that this is why he set up his lifestyle referencing agency. He believes that he is the “good guy”, a pillar of morality; a self-made success – looking out for the little fella or lass and weeding out the “problem people” from what he perceives to be his own little community. Unfortunately for him, and for his tenants, his own fragile narcissism requires that every tenant metaphorically ‘doff their cap’ or suffer his wrath, be labelled a “problem person” and thus blacklisted; then subsequently struggle and suffer to get a roof over their heads.

There are already measures in place for landlords with actual problem tenants. We have an entire justice system with police and courts to deal with reported antisocial or illegal activities. Paul Routledge is a landlord, not a vigilante messiah. If they’re paying on time and haven’t wrecked your house, it’s not your job to change their souls, mate – either by the first gentle conversation suggesting some little lifestyle changes, or the final blacklisting and threats of homelessness if people don’t change to ape your own personal morality.


If It Makes You Tall

Twist, and lie, and obfuscate
If it makes you tall
Slink around the alley gates
Scale the garden wall
Darkness was and is your friend
She’s known the darkness too
The bitterness, the avarice –
Aversion to the truth
So warp your mind
Around the time
When you switched love for hate
When you decided
“Fuck the light”
“Fuck the path that’s straight”
And tell yourself
It isn’t fair
That you deserve to choose
To lie to keep things
As you’d like –
But if you do, you’ll lose.


We walk alone
We die alone
We hate their dreams
We know enough
Enough to fall
Away from grace
And fuck their grace
It’s not for us
They medicate
They feel no pain
We feel no pain
Unless we choose
To love or hate
On our own terms
And in their games
We play to lose


Never thick and easy
But nervous
Waiting for them, with me
Swarming softly
They weave, they fold
Engulf and drop me
Through labyrinthine dreams
Of others
A demon cast out
By my mother
A demon summoned
By my father
Spans timeless voids
And darker matter
They bargained over souls he’d brought
My father lost but never talked
One child died later
In the sun
One child died slowly
One child won

Never thick and easy
But screaming
Waiting for them, with me

About Me – Part Two

Part One can be found here.

I started puberty early, soon after my seventh birthday, and developed a much more “adult” shape than the girls around me, though I was quite oblivious at the time. My father started to pass comments about the way I dressed, and make peculiar statements that I didn’t understand properly about boys and not “showing” them my body. I didn’t understand any of it, it just made me feel vaguely dirty, weird and uncomfortable. He would have done better to explain his concern more clearly, I suppose. I had already by this point resigned him to the status of a paranoid in my mind (although I didn’t know the word, I couldn’t have told you what I thought he was, I just knew he wasn’t right) and these dark mutterings about boys and what they get up to just seemed like more twaddle. He’d use the same tones and get just as irate about Disney films like Aladdin because genies were “demons”. I could never trust my father’s risk assessment of situations, so grew up practically unadvised as there was no one I knew who earned their own money without being dependent on the money of others, who I could trust and turn to for help and support in carving out my own life path in that direction -which is what I always wanted and still do.

I didn’t trust him, and was afraid of him. I thought he thought I was dirty or a tart, that I wanted boys to look at me and feel “rude”. So when my uncle approached me and sexually abused me when I was eight years old, I believed him when he said that if I told my dad, my dad would punish me really severely and probably stop caring about what happened to me. My uncle has subsequently been found guilty of possession of child pornography and had two of his children adopted out of the family. More of my family members on my mother’s side socialise with him than they do with me. His mother, my grandmother, pays for his sports cars so that he doesn’t “kill himself”. He is more or less unemployable because of what he has done. He has since had two more children, and the last I heard is living in a “scouts honour” situation where his wife is deemed strong enough by social services to enforce the boundaries he is supposed to keep around the children. His wife is dependent on their marriage in order to be able to stay in the U.K. as she is originally of Filipino nationality. She was advised as to the full natures of his crimes by a social worker with a translator while she was giving birth to her first child by him, after they were married.

I felt sick at what had happened. I may have started acting differently in school, I don’t recall, but I started being bullied pretty soon afterwards. For about two years I spent my time in school mostly alone, miserable, reading or pacing around the playground perimeter, if I couldn’t focus on reading. My father paid for his correspondence degree in Theology upfront out of the family income top-up we were receiving on top of his salary. This meant that we lived in a kind of enforced poverty where he spent the majority of the household money on himself. We had to wear hand-me-downs, boys clothes, cheap stuff, and of course it all had to be “modest”; so we looked really dorky too. We were bullied mercilessly for being “scruffs” – often by kids from families even poorer than ours who just prioritised their children more when it came to spending. Mum had to cut our hair, my head never saw a professional hairdresser til I won £850 on a quiz machine in Wales when I was thirteen. He promised us all our young lives that the sacrifices we we making would be rewarded in time. He is currently a Media Studies instructor at a university, and a trade union activist, with his own home, fat pension, gym membership, brand new car etc and is well respected in the local Protestant community (who don’t know anything about his home life, because it’s alllll in the family). One of his daughters is potentially being moved to a personality disorder clinic in Wales after multiple lethal suicide attempts, the other couldn’t stand him and moved out to live with me when she was 17, and I got kicked out myself when I was 16 years old. My mother divorced him last year. Nobody ever got anything back.

I had my first breakdown when I was ten years old. My birthday hadn’t been too long ago, and I’d gone shopping with my mother for an outfit to wear for the Christmas disco, out of my birthday money off my grandmother. I just wanted the kids to see me in something nice, and cool, and treat me nicely for once. Because I was a kid, and that’s how kids feel about things. I got this skirt that I thought was boss, purple wrap around silky-stuff, knee length but not dorky. We used to have to show our father all our new clothes on us so he could make sure they passed inspection. I was so happy that day when I went shopping, ecstatic to have something to wear that I liked, and my mum said was nice, too. I was so happy. I thought he was bound to like it too, but he didn’t. He said I was starting to look like a slut, and it was making him so sad to see me “desiring” such things. He confiscated the glitter nail polishes this one girl who tried to be my friend bought me for Christmas as part of his “concern”. I told her, because she was asking why I never wore any, and she started being cruel and getting everyone else in on it. One of her mates pushed me on the floor and another dumped crisps over my head. I just sat and stared through them until everyone got sick of laughing and went away. I went home, and a tiny dispute with my sister, and my father’s reaction, sent me west. I started howling in front of my father, screaming at him not to hit me, just screaming and crying until I couldn’t breathe properly and the jagged breaths started and my head went dizzy.

I don’t remember much else of what happened, but a school transfer was arranged as a result of the incident. I had been asking for one repeatedly for over a year.

In Memory of Joshua Waters 1983-2013

My friend committed suicide yesterday morning. He was a brilliant, funny and clever man; sensitive and kind. He concerned himself with others as a top priority. I remember him stressing earlier this year because he had noticed a kid who got on the same bus route as himself every day getting more quiet, sad-looking and withdrawn over time, and he felt like he was the only person who noticed or cared and didn’t know what to do, because he didn’t know the kid well enough to “get involved”. In a world of cold, grabbing, cynical bastards; Joshua Waters was a shining gem of a human being who I quietly and enormously respected.

The world is less one brilliant mind and beautiful soul; and of course one of the lewdest, wittiest sons-of-guns there ever was. The last thing Josh told me was that I should smile more. Josh, man, I fucking will; I wish you hadn’t gone away though. We loved you, and love you, and it’s emptier without you.

You were one of the people who kept me going in my dark times, although you never knew I was struggling, and I never knew you were struggling; what a mess, what a stupid fucking mess.


You were always about the lulz. They shall continue. I won’t forget you xxx