One of our staff members at Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse is in desperate need of accommodation closer to work. I decided to try the FaceBook route and ask residents in Craighall Park and the neighbouring suburbs of Parkhurst and Blairgowrie if anybody had a room to let. The Facebook pages for Residents’ Association of Craighall Park and Parkhurst were not too difficult to find, but Blairgowrie proved elusive. Finally, in between phone calls, emails, intercom buzzing and saying goodbye to departing guests, I found Blairgowrie and Rattray memories. All are closed groups and, after requesting to join, all it seems accept me, as I can now load my request to rent a room. As I continue with my daily admin, my computer starts pinging faster than morse code signals at Bletchley Park. It took me some time to realize this indicated incoming Facebook messages – such Connection! Basking in optimistic hope and a teeny sense of self-righteous triumph, I came down to earth quite smartly when I started to read the tsunami of responses from the Blairgowrie residents (my dear suburban neighbours):
‘Definitely a scam’
‘Seriously dodgy, folks’
‘It’s a trap!’
‘Ask this person to identify herself’
‘Just don’t phone this number it’s an Italian number. I’d put money that it’s a con.’
Defensive outrage, self-righteous indignation .. I start to type furiously to put these suspicious alarmist petty suburban neighbours in their place. I look more closely to see what else other ridiculous misguided conclusions have being drawn … then I read:
‘Isn’t Parkhurst a prison?’
‘The mention of South Africa triggered a memory that there is a Blairgowrie there.’
‘Just Googled the number and got Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse in Johannesburg.’
…. Slowly the light begins to dawn. … I had joined a closed group of Scots all connected to Blairgowrie, a town in Perthshire in the far wee north of that not so united kingdom.
So I responded:
Hello all in a foreign country!! .. dare I say it? .. all in the United Kingdom. [The Scottish referendum was very new and raw.] Yes, I thought I was joining a group of my neighbouring suburb in Johannesburg South Africa. Mea Culpa!
I then go on to identify myself and offer all my ‘credentials’.
Have I absolved myself of skulduggery and treachery? Stupid .. yes. Intention to deceive .. no. I won’t go into the reasons here for looking for accommodation for this person. They are sad and indicative of the tough life that the majority of South Africans still have. And believe me if I had any available spare space I would accommodate her.
But if any of you come to South Africa please come and stay. I might at least get some mileage out of my faux pas!! Sorry everybody. But please hold thumbs that we find somewhere for Thandie to stay. By the way check the piece I wrote on Rattray and our suburb http://lizatlancaster.co.za/blog/exhilarating-air-of-peace-and-calmness-accommodation-in-craighall-park . Misguided and bit dumb not to realize the site I was joining! .. But a scam and trap I am not. And sadly I’m not Italian either! But buonanotte and bye bye all – Please feel free to delete me from this group.
A further internal mud-slinging interchange ensued between those who were still insistent that this was further evidence of a dangerous and subversive swindling sociopath at work, and those who welcomed me to the group, who loved the SA connection, and who took the serious mickey out of all those who failed to see the funny side. More aggrieved huffing and puffing from the Perthshire biddies, and then I lost interest and left the group.
There is an exquisite irony in putting out the word for accommodation close to work - and targeting a town some 13,800 km away from Liz at Lancaster.