Here’s another popular keyword people use to find this blog: “I hate my flatmate/what rights do I have in a shared house/my flatmate is crazy,” and other infinite variations of the fresh new up close and personal hell that go with human contact.
In my circle of friends, the traditional problems are still doing the rounds, from minor vexations such as variable recycling standards, right up to entering a shared lounge and tripping over smelly drunken blokes crashed out on the sofa of a morning.
When it’s good, flat-shares are a marvellous idea – they’re cheaper, you have the chance of some companionship - someone to share bills and maybe even the occasional meal. But when it’s bad, it’s horrible – and uniquely uncomfortable for many unusual reasons.
In one previous house-share, one girl had an especially arrogant and imperious boyfriend. His parents seemed to own much of the county, but despite his wealth, he refused to pay his way, and drank all the coffee, used all the toothpaste etc etc.... This is a common problem in house-shares: moving in a partner who isn’t officially a tenant. When are they deemed to have moved in: when they’ve left a toothbrush in the bathroom, contribute willingly to the leccy bill, or even have their name on the cleaning rota?
For ‘Steve’ it was none of the above - in fact at one point he brazenly suggested that we should insure our house, as in the event of burglary, he didn’t want to be losing his precious stereo, now did he? (and no he didn’t offer to pay.)
Don’t worry – though: we had our revenge, but it was anything but sweet. We left the house one morning and waited at the bus stop opposite. A female acquaintance noticed us and said: “Oh – you must share a house with “Steve’ – I had a fling with him over Easter.” As our jaws bounced on the pavement like space-hoppers, she explained that she’d spent Easter in bed with him. In our house.
So…we waited until his girlfriend was out to have a little chat. His face was like a bright red deflated balloon and initially he denied it, until eventually he confessed. We ordered him to move out, explaining that we would be telling our friend about his little fling. For my friend it was horrible, but to skewer such a lazy, bumptious, supercilious snobby leech was extremely satisfying.
Other flatmates in different lives have been lazy, crazy, omnipresent or eternally absent (which can be extremely unnerving.) Another friend, when a mature student, shared a flat with a young and immature first year bloke. He didn’t mind being a father figure, until one day he got a text, which read: “Quick - how do I undo a girl’s bra with one hand?” The mental picture of the lovelorn lusty lad trying to romantically disrobe a young lady, phone in one hand, girl in the other, is memorable and evocative, although at least he didn’t untangle himself so as to move over to his laptop and google the answer.