I WAS 27 when I decided I’d had enough of houseshares. Or perhaps my housemates decided they’d had enough of me. I forget.
Ultimately, I’d come to see houseshares in much the same way that Dave Gorman had come to see them. In his 2001 book Are You Dave Gorman? (still, 10 years after its publication, the leading authority on tracking down people called Dave Gorman), the comedian described the gradual process by which he had come to end up living alone in a one-bedroom flat in central Manchester.
It went like this: For the first 10 years of his life, he had shared a room with his twin brother Nick (and thus, for nine months before that, a womb too). Then, on leaving home, Gorman had lived in shared accommodation with seven people, then five, then four, then three, then two, then one – and then, in Gorman’s words “one-person-I-was-sleeping-with who turned out to be one-person-I-wasn’t-the-only-person-sleeping-with”.
My route was slightly different. For a start, I always had my own bedroom when I was growing up. But on the houseshare front, I followed a pretty similar formula. I started living with five people, then three, then two, then another three, then another two. But even in the nice houseshares (and I lived with some lovely people), you get to a stage where you get sick of spending so much of your life discussing the washing up. You want to live somewhere where you feel at home.
FOUR TRUE HOUSESHARING STORIES
1) Many years ago, I lived in a houseshare that had a ‘pulling chart’. And no, it had nothing to do with the shipping forecast. It worked like this: Each housemate earned points according to their levels of sexual activity. A snog got you a point, a grope three points, and so on. (One day, I may tell you what you had to do for six points. Then again, I may not.)
Here’s the good bit, though: The housemate who drew up the pulling chart decided to leave me off it altogether. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or offended. (Actually, if I’d been relieved, I’d have probably got four points.)
2) There was another houseshare that was so bad, I moved out after four days and was threatened with legal action by the landlord. I moved into a six-bedroom flat which, at the time, was occupied by only two other people; one man, one woman. I’ll call them Him and Her.
Those two people had lived together for a long time – perhaps too long. I was not accustomed to their routines, of which there were many. On my second or third evening in the flat, Him told me: “You failed the cleaning test.” Wouldn’t be the first time, I thought. My crime, though, hadn’t been a lack of tidiness, but poor timing. Apparently, Him and Her always tidied up in the half-hour between the end of Hollyoaks and the start of Coronation Street. Which they always watched. Without fail.
Call me feeble, but I couldn’t cope with such soap-orientated regimentalism. Unfortunately, as the landlord pointed out, I’d already signed a six-month tenancy. After some negotiation, I eventually paid him two months’ rent just to get out of the contract.
3) Houseshares with strangers can be fun. You get to meet new people and discover all their funny habits. (And they find out yours too.) One housemate had an incredibly funny habit: Drinking.
One night, after consuming too much alcohol, he started telling me and my other housemates about the scars on his legs from the time he had been stabbed.
He then pulled down his trousers to show us, before insisting that we would all get up at dawn the next morning (a Sunday) to go running – and warned he would keep banging on our bedroom doors to wake us up if we ignored him.
Not long afterwards, he smashed up his bedroom one night and then disappeared. We don’t keep in touch.
4) Someone I know (who I shan’t name) once moved into a flatshare a few miles from their parents’ house. (Honestly, it wasn’t me.) The flat was rather squalid and the housemates extremely untidy (I’m told). One day, this person I know (who, as I mentioned before, wasn’t me) went into the kitchen and discovered every single piece of crockery had been used. Rather than do any washing up, instead this person caught the bus back to their parents’ house to get a clean bowl. Their parents never saw that bowl again.
AN URBAN LEGEND ABOUT HOUSESHARES, WHICH DID NOT HAPPEN, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY TIMES SOMEONE TRIES TO CONVINCE YOU THAT IT HAPPENED TO THEIR COUSIN’S NEIGHBOUR’S BROTHER’S BEST MATE
(WARNING: If you’re eating, it’s probably best to skip this bit and go straight to the Bolton-Sunderland report below.)
A group of housemates once decided to play a game called, um, “hide the poo” (or something like that). The object of the game was to do a poo in an unusual part of the house (ie. anywhere that wasn’t the toilet, I’d suggest) and see how long it took to be discovered.
(Already, it should be obvious that this is an urban legend. Think about it a minute. If someone told you they were leaving turds all over your house, would you: a) Tell the landlord and get them evicted, b) Move out immediately, or c) Think: “Ooh, that sounds like a fun game; I’ll see if I can find them”?)
One day, one of the housemates (let’s call him Cackman) informed the others that he’d hidden a poo. They spent two weeks looking for it, without success.
(Person A: “Coming out, tonight, mate?” Person B: “No, not me. I’m staying in to hunt round my house for poo.”)
Finally, one of the other housemates found it while making toast. Putting a knife into his tub of margarine, he discovered it in the bottom. Cackman had scooped out the tub, taken a dump and then put the margarine back on top.
Except that he hadn’t, because this DID NOT HAPPEN. Although it’s probably given a few people ideas.
For what it’s worth, I know a poo-related story arguably even more disgusting than this, about a man who saved his turds and stored them in his airing cupboard. That one is true; it came from Stockport Council’s environmental health department about 11 years ago, and ended up in the local paper.
(Oh, and apparently, the story about former England coach Steve Harrison is true as well. Google it, if you need to know. I’m not feeling too well.)
Anyway, I didn’t mean to end up going on about poo quite so much. I’m sorry. The only point I was trying to make about all of this is that it’s horrible when your home doesn’t feel like home. I’ve gone too far, haven’t I?
Last on MOTD: Bolton 0 Sunderland 2
Commentator: Steve Wilson
The Reebok Stadium doesn’t feel like home for Bolton right now. As Match of the Day commentator Steve Wilson pointed out, Wanderers are the only team in England’s top four divisions without a single home point this season. Wilson didn’t mention anything about dodgy housemates or hidden turds, though.
Bolton are in big trouble. They are missing Daniel Sturridge, who was outstanding on loan from Chelsea during the second half of last season, look short on confidence as well as inspiration, and give every impression of a side who still haven’t recovered from last season’s late collapse.
Sunderland, who haven’t exactly been brilliant this season, should have been in front long before Stephane Sessegnon scored with eight minutes to go. Nicklas Bendtner’s injury-time goal gave the final scoreline a more realistic look.
I’m convinced there’s only one way Bolton are going to pick themselves up. They’ll have to move.
1. Aston Villa: 3 (2L: 2, 3L: 2)
2: Wolves: 2 (2L: 1, 3L: 2)
3. Fulham: 2 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
3. Sunderland: 2 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
5. West Brom: 2 (2L: 0, 3L: 2)
6. Wigan: 1 (2L: 4, 3L: 2)
7. Swansea: 1 (2L: 3, 3L: 0)
8. Blackburn: 1 (2L: 1, 3L: 1)
9. Tottenham: 1 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
10. Bolton: 1 (2L: 0, 3L: 2)
11. QPR: 1 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)
12. Newcastle: 1 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
13. Everton: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 2)
14. Norwich: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 1)
15. Arsenal: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
15. Stoke: 0 (2L: 1, 3L: 0)
17: Liverpool: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 2)
18. Chelsea: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 1)
19. Manchester City: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
19. Manchester United: 0 (2L: 0, 3L: 0)
2L = On second last (Wolves 2 Swansea 2)
3L = On third last (Aston Villa 1 West Brom 2)
(Teams receive one point every time they are last on MOTD. Teams level are separated by the number of times they are on second last, then by the number of times they are on third last. MOTD2 not included.)