Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Flatmates are from hell

Flatmates are the best excuse for living alone. People with totally incompatible views, habits, beliefs and personalities are shoehorned by circumstances and necessity into a prison. I’m no angel. I can be difficult, I admit it. But I have endured enforced cohabitation until I could stand no more.

When you first have flatmates, you are young, and there is the excuse of inexperience in household matters that eases the pain of the no housework thing. We were all the same. Even so, common sense dictates that when you knock over a full dustbin in the lounge, you do not leave it for three weeks over the summer festering on the carpet, until the rats were playing volleyball with empty tins. You just don’t do that.

The same criminal had this habit: keeping her house keys on a large leather fob, and writing her name and address on the fob (in case she lost it) and then losing it. She just couldn’t, wouldn’t understand why this was witless, and was appalled when the household decreed that – whenever she lost the keys - she should pay for the locks to be changed.

Varying standards of cleanliness are a constant source of conflict. One ex co-dweller had a fear of mould. This led to frantic clear out sessions whenever we were out, ridding the house of ‘old’ vodka, blue cheese, and a fruitcake that improves with age. She was strangely immune to her habits i.e. the bins and ash trays piled high with vertiginous stacks of fags and ash.

I used to hate the ongoing soap opera of household relationships. I avoided it, and kept myself to myself. I once returned after the xmas break to find the occupants seething in a cold, dark fury. In my absence, everyone had fallen out: one had shagged the other one’s boyfriend, and in revenge, an attack of retaliatory shagging meant that they had all shagged each others partners, but hated someone else for screwing their beloved. It was the stuff of restoration drama, but with libidinous children in the leading roles, and infanticide and disembowellment replaced by sulking, slamming of doors and bursting righteously into tears.

An unmourned flatmate was a huge fan of Barry Manilow. She played him all the time. Another moved in her ignorant sexist ex US para boyfriend. One of my darkest hours was the flatmate who was stalking a poor mutual acquaintance. She was never keen for me to enter her room, but one night, I felt obliged, as I had heard her anguished sobbing. She was maintaining a shrine to this benighted man, with snatched photos, and stolen belongings of his pinned as trophies to the wall. I came home one night to find the lights dimmed, with just one spotlight trained on her. She looked… well; mad, and asked if I thought she was pretty. I ran to the pub. When she moved out it was to but a flat opposite the man of her dreams. She seemed to be watching him through a telescope.

This is not a judgement thing, about morals or anything, but two ex flatmates were extremely promiscuous, and invited all the local scallies back to ours. They suggested that I was snob for thinking this was ill advised. The burglaries were regular, efficient, and thorough.

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