I can’t remember the exact moment in my house-share that I decided to terminate my contract but that was probably because there were so many reasons to.
I had agreed to move in partially on the portentousness of spotting a tabby cat loitering outside the property the evening I went to view.
I had dreamt of a similar cat the night before and was in the company of the creature for the forty-five minutes or so it took for the landlord’s niece to arrive to show me round.
I found out later that the reason for the delay was that the landlord’s niece thought that someone waiting to see the house would knock on the door and end up being given a tour by the current tenants, thus saving her a trip.
The landlord’s niece pulled up in a Mini – exactly the vehicle I would expect for someone as crazy as she turned out to be.
The new Mini is for people who think (and care) that they are being patriotic by driving around in a classic British marque but fail realise that it is made and manufactured by Germans.
Their very championing of little England against the “bonkers” EU is an act that pumps money onto the continent thus amusingly undermining their ridiculous values.
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I digress however. Like I say, she was nuts. She tried to entice me into taking the room by stating that sometimes she stayed at the house (I later found out this was completely bullshit) as though her possible presence in the building would excite me into signing a tenancy agreement.
The room I was after was a little pokey but it was close to work and at a pretty good rate. And long story short, I took it. It was a horrible mistake.
Ignoring the fact that the first night I moved, I got locked out of room and had to sleep in the attic (there have been enough anecdotes I’ve written on this site about me being locked out of various places so I’m not going to repeat myself) my short stay there was a litany of stupidity.
As the sun rose and the rest of the house began to awaken, I managed to get the landlord’s mobile number from another resident and I was finally able to see my room for the first time in daylight.
The landlord resembled an ageing hippy (though not in a good way) with long flowing grey hair and a goatee. He spoke slowly and seemed pretty chilled as he selected a spare key from a large bunch and let me into my bedroom.
I walked in and pulled open the blinds to be greeted by the wonderful view of the kitchen. Having only seen the room in the evening, I had assumed the darkness behind the shutters was the dim back garden.
But no, it was an internal window which gave me an excellent panorama of the fridge, patio doors and faux granite worktops
I didn’t have much time to dwell on this however as I had to get ready for work so would have to put this particular mental headache on hold.
When I returned that evening, it was a chance to meet my fellow housemates. First up was a couple (possibly Geordie) who must have been at least late forties who worked for an electric company.
Now if you’re a young hipster like me, it’s sort of socially respectable to be in houseshares, on the smooth edge of slumming it. But if you’re a working middle-aged couple, clearly you’ve fucked up big style. No one grinds away on the career ladder for twenty or thirty years to move in with Slatz (although this is obviously a strong possibility in the future).
I would later have a minor argument with the bloke over his insistence on using the spin dryer late at night to dry his underwear into within an its of life. It wasn’t so much the rumble of the machine through my bedroom walls, mainly its constant bleeping to say a cycle had finished. Not the sort of thing you need at 1am.
Another housemate was a girl closer to my age who did hospitality work – the day I met her, she had been at the Emirates stadium entertaining some clients who were watching an Arsenal champions league game.
This type of entertaining – as you would expect in a patriarchal society – involves a low cut top, smiling inanely and creating a relaxing atmosphere so businessmen can discuss a potential takeover over Chiraz and Chamack without realising the cultural absurdity of their situation.
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The next housemate was a mixed race guy in his twenties who seemed relatively sound. He would go to the local petrol garage at about 10pm to get chilled family sized deserts and seemed to have a permanent bandage on his wrist. I think he might have been a bouncer but I can’t really remember.
During the London riots, he excitedly told me while clutching his Blackberry (the attentive among you will recall that BBM was the primary means rioters used to communicate where the action was) that there was going to be a raid on the JJB sports in Wembley.
I thanked him for the tip but said I wasn’t interested. I think he chose to stay in which meant he didn’t join the masses who used a bungled police operation as an excuse to grab a pair of Adidas Originals and an oversized TV that will never quite fit on their squalid bedroom walls.
Despite the rioters clearly having oyster cards (managing to get to Ealing, Croydon etc.) they didn’t hit my neck of the woods which probably means Harrow is more middle-class and boring than we’d like to think. We were sent home from work early which was a bonus although the posters they put around the outside saying no drugs or money were kept on the premises were a little over the top.
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There was however a young couple staying in one of the other four or so rooms in the house that were pretty sound and normal so I won’t take this opportunity to poke fun at them.
Likewise the family next door seemed relatively placid. But I would often be woken up at 7am by them having massive rows (I think one began over some porridge). Longer staying house-mates said they often argued and were unsurprised, small comfort considering the wall of my room connected directly with their dining area.
I could list more trivial incidents but as this is in danger of turning into a complaints letter, I shall spare you.
I thankfully managed to get a break from the house-share a month or so in as I went to Spain to meet with my friend Danx in Barcelona. I’ll save that trip for another article but during said holiday I was emailed by landlady’s niece whilst on an intercity Spanish train to say that they hadn’t received this month’s rent from me and that I would be hearing from their solicitors.
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As I’m a high roller, it goes without saying that there was more than enough money in my account to pay it and it was soon sorted out but this exemplifies the passive-aggressive approach the landlord’s niece took. No contact or involvement with the house for months and suddenly all guns blazing.
Soon after I contacted the hippy landlord and told him I would be moving out. He seemed relatively nonplussed, maybe the current housing market meant that it would be easy to find, as Tazz says “just another victim.”
The evening I loaded my stuff into my hire car, another tenant was raging at the landlord’s niece and someone had come round to look at my room to see if they wanted it. And so the cycle goes on.
Have you got any hilarious stories about flatmates or houseshares? If so, why not get over them and move on with your life. I know I have. Until next time….