Journey to first meeting

Paula was painfully aware of what she would wear that Sunday. She wanted to make her attire as discreet as possible. She was going to a political meeting and she was afraid. When she finally got out of the house, she looked both ways as usual. Only this time she was watching out for police cars. Then she thought if she was going to be followed by police, it would not be so obvious, probably. She walked to the bus stop as usual, convinced that some one was following her. She knew it was all irrational. But she had learned about a political meeting in a public forum after all, and now she was heading there.

Paula could now afford using the underground, but on the one hand the tube station was further away from her house than the bus stop, and although buses were so much slower, she found them cleaner and of course more entertaining to peek from.

The conviction of being followed did not go away when she got on the bus.

She saw a cyclist from the bus and she once again envied how fast they went. She had had a puncture recently and she had not managed to fix it yet. As the cyclist disappeared speedily even in the empty streets, she decided to bring her own bicycle to some shop to have the puncture fixed.

She had to change buses once in central London. She did not see any one person or any one car in her sight for the whole time she was waiting for her next bus, so she relaxed a bit. It was unlikely some one would follow her and take so much pain to remain unnoticed.

The second bus journey was shorter than the first one, but slower, so it took almost as long. As usual already in that city, she had got out of the house in broad daylight and she would arrive at her destination in dark night. At least travelling by bus allowed her to experience the transition. It made her deeply depressed to get into the underground in daylight and find night darkness when coming out.
She double-checked on her A-Z map as she walked. It was the same book she had bought two years earlier and she had been using it daily, so some pages had been inevitably detached from the rest of the book and she had to hold it with both hands to keep the pages together. She was relieved to see that the street that had been announced in the forum actually existed, both in her map and in the street sign she was now seeing.
She turned round the last corner.
And then she saw it.
A police car.
A police car had its car lights on, although in silence, right outside the pub where she was heading. Her heart stopped functioning, and so did her brain. Her legs, however, continued walking at the same pace as before. (“Might as well”, thought Paula, “because it would have been well suspicious if I had stopped back there. What do I do now? Do I pretend I have taken this turn by mistake? Do I walk past it all casually pretending I was not coming here? But I “am’ in that internet forum, they know I know about this place, and I have no other reason to be here. Then, what will happen if I just don’t get in? When will be the next time they announce another meeting? They may never announce it. It took them months to announce this one, didn’t it?”)

Paula decided to avoid looking at the police car and got inside the pub.

Luckily there were no police inside the pub. At least, no police officer in uniform. But then, would any of these punters qualify as a potential police officer in plain clothes? Paula had no idea. She looked at their faces. Which was easy, because now every one of the customers in that pub had their faces turned to her.

The pub was a typical English pub, only not as luxurious as some of the pubs she had worked in. there was carpet all over the pub including some stairs leading somewhere upstairs, but it was so worn out, she thought she could see the wood underneath in some places. Or may be it wasn’t the wood and it was some dark stain. She couldn’t tell because it was pretty dark. There were plenty of light bulbs all over the ceiling, but none of them was bright enough to give the place a feeling of well lit atmosphere.

There were small tables against one of the walls, and back benches perpendicular to the walls. It gave that part of the pub a strange train-like feeling. There were also benches against the walls, with tables in front of them and stools on the other side of the tables.

Three old men sat in one of the train-like compartments. Another old man sat on his own on one of the back-less stools. And three other old men sat on the tall stools at the bar. They all looked at her and stayed looking at her until she reached the bar, at which point Paula managed to ignore the men and centred her attention on the bar tender, a woman younger than the old men but older than Paula.

Paula spoke making a huge effort to speak loud enough for the bar tender to hear her, but most importantly, soft enough to not be heard by the old men.
“Is there a meeting in this pub?”
“They are upstairs.”
The bar tender made no effort to speak softly. She was obviously used to this. Also, her glance told Paula that she was not welcome to walk away from the bar without at least a drink on her hand.
“Can I have a lemonade, please? No ice, please.”
“No thanks.”

After squatting

original en castellano abajo

Paula and his friend thought that the cook was exploiting them a little, that that thing about to allow them to stay in “his” squat only if they were cleaning the rooms was not too equitable plan. They met with the Poles and decided to search for another place to live.
The difference was that the Poles were going to stay only a few weeks more and Paula and another boy they were going for a few months. So when the Poles found a room that they were going to have to share between them all, sharing two boys one of the beds, it was time for Paula to find a room that his friend could occupy.
At work she thought that she could not cope with everything and asked for a week off. The new manager offered two and she felt she may well need two weeks to find two rooms.

Paula had sensed, when she had to find a room for herself, that it was more difficult for a boy to find somewhere. But now she would learn just how much more difficult.
At the beginning they aimed for two rooms in the same house, so they could live together and sharing meals. They bought the renting newspaper and phoned the first few numbers. For some strange reason it took them five calls to get an answer. The first four did not answer (what is the point of paying for an advert if you are not going to pick up the phone?). Most adverts said “No DSS” and Paula had no idea what this meant, but it didn’t seem to be affecting the first conversation. The person who answered the phone gave them an address and they got on the bus, checking the A-Z map all the time.
“It should be this stop.”
“Well, we missed it.”
“Let’s get off now on the next one then! Quick!”

They got off, un-walked what the bus had over-gone and found the street. Now they only had to find the number. They located the even numbers, which was what they needed, and admired the beauty of the terraced houses, all the pretty same. Paula looked at his friend smiling, but he looked serious.
“I don’t know how you feel. But this being only the first house we’re seeing, I am already fed up.”
“I feel exactly the same. We’d better like it, because I really want this to be the last one we have to visit.”
Far from fact. The pretty terraced houses disappeared right before the number they were after. There, behind the last terraced house, laid a run-down modern-but-ruined derelict slum, with a number. They double-checked. It was theirs. They looked at each other, then rang the bell.

“Oh, come in, welcome. This is our house.” (I have not come to see your house, I have come to see my prospect room.)

The woman guided them through a narrow, smelly corridor. The smell of typically London/indian food. Then they were in a kitchen. The family kitchen. There was a husband on a sofa who waved a brief hello. They were hesitant to follow the woman any further but she motioned them to follow her through the door she was now opening. They followed her and they were in an empty room. There was just a bare bed and an empty wardrobe. One of the rooms to let. She went through another room and showed them a similar room, only this one was slightly smaller.

“Come, sit down,” she said as she sat down on the bare mattress and patted on it to indicate where she wanted them to sit. They sat down out of politeness but none of them had any intention to take on these rooms. She talked about the price, the bills and how lovely it was to have them both there, and were they only friends? Paula’s English had not been good enough to politely cut her short and now it would not be good enough for a polite answer either:

“So you will enter our rooms from your kitchen?”
“Yes… Yes, there is no key.”

C. wondered why it had even been necessary for Paula to ask that. They made very little conversation before emptily promising to call back with a definite answer.

“No way I was going to live there! With them having full access to our rooms unnoticed?”
“You know what?”
“That was the only advert, in all today’s paper, for two rooms in the same house.”
“For our budget.”
“For our budget.”
“It doesn’t seem very possible to find two affordable rooms in the same house at the same time.”
“I am not that bad in the hostel for girls where I am now.”
“I suggest we look for a room just for you and then I’ll think about moving out.”

Paula took on talking to landlords as her English was slightly better and spent all the time that the job in the office allowed her phoning landlords and visiting houses. C. didn’t like any of them. After two weeks, Paula was still phoning the numbers advertised in the cheapest rooms section of the loot paper.
” Well, when ‘Well, when you can movethen? ” asked the second-last landlord.
” As soon as we see the room, but it is not for me. It is for a boy who does not know much English to speak with you on the phone.”
” Ah. Ah. Sorry. Don’t want guys.”
” Sorry? ”
” You should have said. I thought it was for you. But the fact is that I do not want guys, they are too dirty. ”

With every call Paula felt that her soul was falling down to her feet. She had already thrown the towel when she decided to do another round of calls, to all the numbers where there had not even been an answer in the previous rounds. C. remained seated on the grass while Paula was returning once again to the telephone box. They were both exhausted.

They answered. Paula was too tired to keep the norms of education.

“Hello. It says in your ad that you have a room for 50 pounds a week.”
“Does it include invoices?”
“Good. Is it a single room?”
“And it is not for me. It is for a boy. Agree? ”
“Yes, yes, of course.”
” Well. If you want we can go right now to see it.”

The room was in Stoke Newington. They were tired and Paula made a mistake on having noted down the house number.
” Here it is. Number four. ”
It took them two rings and ten minutes to answer the door. Paula had no longer any energy to even get angry.
When the door finally opened there appeared in the threshold a man with a black coat, an almost top hat, also black, black trousers, a white shirt and corkscrews on both sides of his face.
“We are coming about the room.”
There was no response. The guy with the corkscrews was looking to C. through Paula.
“Are you not renting a room here? ”
It seemed to Paula that the guy with the corkscrews kept on ignoring he when he denied with his head almost imperceptibly. Then he closed the door and they remained amazed in the street.
“It may well be number fourteen and you forgot to write the number one. ”
” It may.”
It had taken them almost an hour to get there so a few steps more, five houses further down the street wasn’t too much of a waste of time, especially putting the day in perspective.

In number fourteen they were waited by a woman of brown curls with an accent that sounded Andalusian to Paula, who radiated in the hope to be able to speak in Spanish:
” Where are you from? ”
” Israel. ”
” Ah. We are Spanish. ”

The lady showed them a room that felt like freezing to Paula, with a sink, a microwave and refrigerator inside, in addition to the bed and a television set, and looked at her friend begging him with her eyes to please like it.
” There is heating, ” the lady said. ” I know that it is necessary, because this room is very cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. ” (at least the lady is sincere, thought Paula). ” But I do not put the heating on to cheat the people who comes to see it ” (which is to be welcomed, thought Paula); I prefer to leave it off if nobody lives inside (very ecological, thought Paula).

They signed a contract in a wrinkled / crumpled paper with a pen of red ink, and Paula was grateful to heavens that the search had ended.

” It is a cavern, Paula. ”
” This is what you can pay for fifty a week. ”
“And tomorrow, back to work. I wish I did not have to return but the two weeks of vacation that I asked for to help you look for a home end today.’

In the two weeks Paula had been off from work, the owner of the pub where she worked had fired the manager and hired a new one. It is not possible to say that the new boss of the bar was waiting for Paula with his arms opened on the following day. / not that the head of the bar were waiting for Paula with arms open the next day.

” Have they not told you?’
” Who? ”
” The Polish boys from the kitchen. ”
” No, what did they have to say to me? ”
” You do not work here any more. There is no work. Take this envelope, it is the salary of your last week.”

Paula was glad that she had at least her friend to tell it to him. And for having that job in the office. To C. was allowed ten free minutes to speak with Paula.
” And this face? ”
” I have just been sacked.”
“Come work here! They are looking for a waitress; one just left today. ”
It was the second time Paula changed jobs in London; there would be more changes and some equally of percussion caps/primers.


Paula y su amigo pensaron que el cocinero les estaba un poco explotando, que lo de dejarles quedarse en “su” okupa solo si iban limpiando las habitaciones era un plan no demasiado equitativo. Se reunieron con los polacos y decidieron entre todos buscarse otra casa para vivir.
La diferencia era que los polacos se iban a quedar solo unas semanas más y Paula y el otro chico iban para meses. Así que cuando los polacos encontraron una habitación que iban a tener que compartir entre todos, compartiendo los dos chicos una de las camas, fue momento para Paula de encontrar una habitación que pudiera ocupar su amigo.
En el trabajo pensó que no podía con todo y pidió dos semanas de vacaciones. Apenas les dio tiempo en esas dos semanas a encontrar habitación, pero lo consiguió. No sabía Paula lo difícil que era para un chico encontrar una habitación de alquiler.
“Bien, cuando te puedes mudar entonces?” le preguntó el único casero que contestó el teléfono a la primera.
“En cuanto veamos la habitación, pero no es para mi. Es para un chico que no sabe tanto inglés como para hablar con usted por teléfono.”
“Ah. Lo siento. No quiero chicos.”
“Tenías que haberlo dicho antes. He pensado que era para ti. Pero es que no quiero chicos, son demasiado sucios.”

Con cada llamada a Paula se le caía el alma a los pies. Había tirado ya la toalla cuando decidió hacer otra ronda de llamadas, a todos los teléfonos donde ni habían contestado en las anteriores rondas. C. se quedó sentado en la hierva mientras Paula volvía una vez más a la cabina de teléfono. Estaban los dos agotados.

Contestaron. Paula estaba demasiado cansada para guardar las normas de educación.

“Hola. Dice en su anuncio que son 50 libras a la semana. Incluye facturas? Bien. Es habitación individual? Y no es para mi. Es para un chico. Conforme?”
“Si, si, si bien por supuesto.”
“Bien. Si quiere podemos ir ahora mismo a verla.”

La habitación estaba en Stoke Newington. Estaban cansados y Paula se confundió al anotar el número de la calle.
“Aquí está. Número cuatro.”
Tardaron en contestar al timbre dos timbrazos y diez minutos. Paula ya no tenía fuerzas ni para enfadarse. Cuando la puerta se abrió por fin, en el umbral apareció un hombre con gabardina negra, sombrero casi de copa también negro, pantalón negro, camisa blanca y tirabuzones a ambos lados de la cara.
“Venimos por lo de la habitación.”
No hubo respuesta. El de los tirabuzones miraba a C. a través de Paula.
“No alquila una habitación aquí?”
A Paula le pareció que el de los tirabuzones le seguía ignorando cuando negó con la cabeza casi imperceptiblemente. Luego cerró la puerta y se quedaron pasmados en la calle.
“Igual es catorce y se te ha olvidado el uno.”
les había llevado casi una hora llegar allí así que nos cuantos pasos más, cinco casas más abajo no era demasiada pérdida de tiempo, sobre todo poniendo el día en perspectiva.

En el número catorce les estaba esperando una mujer de rizos morenos cuyo acento le sonó andaluz a Paula, que radió en esperanza de poder hablar en castellano:
“De donde es usted?”
“De Israel.”
“Ah. Nosotros somos españoles.”

La señora les enseñó una habitación que a Paula le pareció heladora, con una fregadera, un microondas y una nevera dentro, además de la cama y un aparato de television dentro, y miró a su amigo implorandole con los ojos que por favor le gustara.
“Hay calefacción,” dijo la señora. “Sé que es necesaria, porque esta habitación es muy fria en invierno y demasiado caliente en verano.” (al menos la señora es sincera). “Pero no pongo la calefacción para engañar a la gente que viene a verla” (lo cual es de agradecer) prefiero dejarla apagada si no vive nadie dentro (muy ecológica).

Firmaron un contrato en un papel arrugado, con un bolígrafo de tinta roja, y Paula agradeció al cielo que la búsqueda hubiera terminado.

“Es un antro, Paula.”
“Es lo que te puedes pagar por cincuenta a la semana.”
“Y mañana vuelta al curro. Ojala no tuviera que volver pero las dos semanas de vacaciones que pedí para ayudarte a ti a buscar casa terminan hoy.”

no se puede decir que el jefe del bar estuviera esperando a Paula con los brazos abiertos al día siguiente.

“No te han dicho?”
“Los chicos polacos de la cocina.”
“No, qué me tenían que decir?”
“Ya no trabajas aquí. No hay trabajo. Toma este sobre, es el sueldo de tu última semana.”

Paula se alegró de que al menos le quedara su amigo para contárselo. Y de tener aquel trabajo en la oficina. A C. le permitieron diez minutos libres para hablar con Paula.

“Y esa cara?”
“Acaban de echarme.”
“Pues vente aquí! Están buscando una camarera que acaba de marcharse hoy.”
Fue el segundo cambio de trabajo de Paula en Londres; volverían más y algunos igual de fulminantes.

The squat

original en castellano abajo

Paula made friends with the boys of the kitchen immediately, even hough they were Polish and could speak English even less than herself. They did not have too many opportunities to speak, but Paula was going down to the kitchen whenever she could because, apart from needing things of it that nobody was going to bring upstairs for her, apart from the kitchen porter boys, and she believed that they were already exploited enough without any need of her ‘help’, there, in the kitchen, not only did she not have the obligation to smile, but she could relax in such a way all the way to make jokes and laugh at the jokes about her. Every time she went down to the kitchen, she climbed back into the bar with a smile, but a true smile.

Two Polish boys were the first friends she took to the hostel-for-women that now she was considering to be her house. They became so good friends that in more than one occasion they spoke to him in Polish:
“Sorry, I have not realized. The fact is that I cannot believe it, that we should be so close friends without you speaking in Polish. But But what’s wrong? ”
” I am worried. A friend is visiting, approximately for six months, and does not know very much English. I want to look for a place to live with him and I do not know where to begin.
It was so difficult for me. And nevertheless I realized that it is much more difficult for a boy. ”
” Why do not you say to him to come to our house? ”
” Do you have room? ”
” Yes, in abundance. We are three in a house of four or five rooms, but only we use one. ”
” And that? ”
” You will see, come. ”
” You are not saying everything to her. It is a squat ”
” Good. I will go one day to see it and then I decide. ”
” Why you do not come today! ”
Paula had not arranged to meet with anybody that night. It was not the free day of anyone of her friends, and she would end at about midnight anyway. With a little luck, it would take about half an hour to reach the house of the Polish and another half hour to get back to hers.

They took Paula on streets along which she had never walked before and she realized that, to return to her house, she would have to go through the bar first because they were going just in the opposite direction. She withdrew this thought off her head even though she would have to go to her office work at nine in the morning, then return to the bar at three o’clock in the afternoon, again to leave at midnight.

They needed to cross a main street and Paula simply looked to both sides and began to cross. One of the Polish guys stopped her:
“I may only do a thing

“Perhaps there is only one thing that I can do legally in this country and I’m going to do it: cross the street by the zebra crossing.”

Paula saw that the crossing was to several meters and then they would have to return, but if it made them especially happy use it even though it would mean that to do a detour, she did not feel with authority to take that away from them.

When they arrived at the house, she wanted to read a small but clear piece of paper that was stuck to the door. “ Section 6 ″, it had for a title.
Paula only could go so far as to read that and the last line, which was something like a justification for that piece of paper was not signed and a warning that it had the same legal value although it was not signed. this Alone scared Paula , gave her a bit of fear but she was with this pair of boys that she was already considering to be her friends and she felt safe.

The house was smelling a little of damp and seemed old, very old. As all the English houses Paula had seen, had carpeting throughout it,, including the stairs. In the end they came to a room that had a light on and Paula was a witness of a scene who till then had imagined only thanks to unpleasant novels: three mattresses on the floor, together with magazines generally untidy things, clothes included, although most of it was in another three luggage bags distributed randomly around the room, and, on the mattresses, blankets and pillows also apparently placed there by chance. One of the mattresses had a brunette girl that was nothing like these so fair-haired Poles. They introduced them and they all sat down on the floor- there were no chairs or any kind of furniture, on the on the other hand. The light was coming from a table lamp that also looked like it had been left there on the floor by chance.
They introduced the girls and explained to Paula the history of the of the squat to Paula. It had been found by the chef, who was English and knew how these things were. This house had been offered to the kitchen boys on the condition that they would find someone else and between all of them, they would make sure that someone would always stay at home, at any time and all times, 24 hours a day. Between the two boys, they could cover the hours of the night, when the bar was not open, and the girl was covering the hours of the day, because she was working during the night. The three of them had come to London just to work during the summer, so at least it was not the whole of their lives that would be their life in the squat, then the chef would have it for his family, and meanwhile they were saving a weekly rent and could take more to their country to be able to continue their studies without having to work during the course. In return they only had to keep the house the twenty-four hours of the day 24 and clean the rooms that they were occupying; that’s why they were managing with just one – and because it was feeling more safe – and the bathroom only.

Paula felt more and more laziness to go back home so late at night and less and less fear of the condition of the house, so when he urged her so stay overnight she did not make them repeat it. In fact she stayed for the two weeks remaining before her friend would come and she did not bother to look for a house for him.

When Paula’s friend arrived, it seemed only natural that he would set up home in that same room with every one else. He could barely babble in English, but with Paula there, and every one’s good will, that seemed enough.
He became a good support for the Polish girl as she guarded the squat during the day time, while Paula and the boys were working. One day a drunken homeless came round demanding entry to the squat.
“But it is our home!”
“I will come back!”
They had got into alert mode immediately and the whole little episode became the epic tale of the following week. The girl had been immensely grateful for C.’s presence there. But most of the time he just sat there, listening, smoking. There were few moments when most of them were all together, but there were some. In those occasions, he would just retreat himself from the whole scene and look to his rolling cigarettes.
“Maybe he should have learnt English before coming here”, said one of the Poles.
“Look who’s talking!”, said Paula smiling. They all laughed.

The trouble was when the chef found out that were actually five people living in the house and not three as had been previously arranged t live in the house which he considered to be “his” squat. As soon as he found out about the new circumstances he spoke with Paula and demanded that they clean a room that had not been cleaned already or find another place to stay.


Paula se hizo amiga de los chicos de la cocina en seguida, aunque fueran polacos y hablaran menos inglés que ella. No tenían muchas oportunidades de hablar, pero Paula bajaba siempre que podía a la cocina porque, aparte de necesitar cosas de ella que nadie tenía por qué proporcionarle, aparte de los pinches de cocina, y ella creía que ya estaban bastante explotados sin necesidad de su ‘ayuda’, allí no solo no tenía la obligación de sonreír, sino que podía relajarse de tal forma hasta hacer bromas y reírse de las que le gastaran. Cada vez que bajaba a la cocina, subía de nuevo al bar con una sonrisa, pero de las de verdad.
Los dos chicos polacos fueron los primeros amigos a los que llevó a la residencia que ahora consideraba su casa. Se hicieron tan amigos que en más de una ocasión le hablaron en polaco:
“Perdona, no me he dado cuenta. Es que no puedo creérmelo, que seamos amigos sin que hables polaco. Pero que te pasa?”
“Ando preocupada. Viene un amigo de visita, de visita unos seis meses, y no sabe mucho inglés. Me siento obligada a buscarle un sitio donde vivir y no se ni por donde empezar. Fue tan difícil para mi. Y aún así me di cuenta de que es mucho más difícil para un chico.”
“Por qué no le dices que venga a nuestra casa?”
“Tenéis sitio?”
“Sí, de sobra. Estamos tres en una casa de cuatro o cinco habitaciones, pero solo usamos una.”
“Y eso?”
“Ya la veras.”
“No le estás diciendo todo. Es una okupa.”
“Bueno. Voy un día a verla y luego decido.”
“Por qué no vienes hoy!”
Paula no había quedado con nadie. No era el día libre de nadie, y ella terminaría a eso de media noche de todas formas. Con un poco de suerte, tardaría media hora en llegar a la casa de los polacos y otra media hora en volverse a la suya.

Llevaron a Paula por calles por las que nunca había caminado y se dio cuenta de que, para volver a su casa, tendría que pasar por el bar primero porque iban justo en dirección contraria. Retiró ese pensamiento de su cabeza porque al menos al día siguiente no trabajaba de nuevo hasta las tres de la tarde, de nuevo para salir a media noche.

Necesitaron cruzar una calle medio principal y Paula simplemente miró a ambos lados y comenzó a cruzar. Uno de los chicos polacos la detuvo:
“Quizás solo haya una cosa que puedo hacer legal en este país y la voy a hacer: cruzar la calle por el paso de cebra.”
Paula se dio cuenta de que el paso estaba a varios metros y luego tendrían que volver, pero si les hacia ilusión usarlo aunque eso significara dar un rodeo, no se sintió ella con autoridad para quitársela.

Cuando llegaron a la casa, ella quiso leer un papel pequeño pero claro que había pegado en la puerta. “Section 6”, tenía por título. Paula solo pudo llegar a leer eso y la última línea, que era algo así como una justificación de que el papel no estuviera firmado y una advertencia de que tenía el mismo valor judicial aunque no estuviera firmado. A Paula esto solo le dio un poco de miedo pero estaba con este par de chicos a los que ya consideraba sus amigos y se sintió segura.

La casa olía algo a humedad y parecía vieja, muy vieja. Como todas las casas inglesas, tenía moqueta por toda ella, incluídas las escaleras. Al final llegaron a una habitación que tenía la luz encendida y Paula fue testigo de una escena que hasta entonces solo se había imaginado gracias a películas desagradables: tres colchones en el suelo, junto con revistas y cosas generalmente desordenadas, ropa incluída, aunque la mayoría estaba en otras tres maletas distribuidas aleatoriamente por la habitación, y, sobre los colchones, mantas y almohadas también aparentemente puestas ahí de forma aleatoria. En uno de los colchones había una chica morena que no se parecía en nada a estos polacos tan rubios. Las presentaron y se sentaron todos en el suelo – no había sillas ni ninguna clase de muebles, por otra parte. La luz la daba una lampara de mesa que estaba también aleatoriamente en el suelo.
Les presentaron a las chicas y le explicaron a Paula la historia de la okupa. La había encontrado el jefe de cocina, que era inglés y sabía como iban estas cosas. Les había ofrecido esta casa a los pinches con la condición de que encontraran a alguien más y entre todos, se quedara siempre alguien en la casa, en todo momento, las veinticuatro horas del día. Entre ellos dos podían cubrir las horas de la noche, cuando no estaba abierto el bar, y la chica cubría las horas del día porque trabajaba durante la noche. Los tres habían llegado a Londres solo para trabajar durante el verano, con lo que no se les iba la vida en la okupa, luego el jefe de cocina la tendría para su familia, y mientras tanto ellos se ahorraban una renta y podían llevar más a su país para poder seguir con sus estudios sin tener que trabajar durante el curso. A cambio solo tenían que guardar la casa las veinticuatro horas del día y limpiar las habitaciones que ocuparan; por eso se arreglaban con una – y por que se sentía más seguro – y el baño solamente.
Paula sintió cada vez más pereza de volver a su casa tan de noche como era y menos miedo por las condiciones de la casa, así que cuando le insistieron quedamente para que se quedara a dormir no se lo hizo repetir. De hecho se quedó durante las dos semanas que quedaban para que llegara su amigo y no se molestó en buscarle una casa.
Lo malo fue cuando se enteró el jefe de cocina de que efectivamente estaban viviendo cinco personas y no tres en la que consideraba “su” okupa. En cuanto se enteró de las nuevas circunstancias habló con Paula y le exigió que limpiara una habitación de las que quedaban por limpiar o le buscara otro sitio a su amigo.