The Wonderful (And Weird) World Of The Flat ShareTuesday 28 May 2013, by The Media Team
Ah, shared accommodation. Gumtree remembers its first flat share as if it were yesterday. That cosy four-bedder in an ‘earthy’ part of town. The shop below that only opened on Sundays and sold nothing but water melons. The landlord of the pub who broke down in tears the day we announced we were leaving the area. Happy days.
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Meanwhile, see if the following aspects of shared living ring a bell.
The absent flatmate
You know the character we’re talking about. Or perhaps you don’t. Because he or she is never there.
“Who’s having the room at the end of the landing?” someone asks on the day you all move in. “Oh, that’s Dave’s,” replies someone else. Months later, you realise you’ve never actually set eyes on this Dave. Maybe he works nights. Maybe he’s a member of parliament pulling some elaborate ‘second home’ stunt. Maybe he’s going for the world transcendental meditation record behind that closed door of his.
Still, that’s one person you don’t have to worry about in the shower queue each morning. Bonus.
The room that no-one ever goes into
See ‘the absent flatmate’ above.
Contrasting attitudes to housework
Some of us are neat freaks by nature. [Personally, Gumtree can’t doze off of an evening if it hasn’t ironed its shoe laces and alphabetised the spice rack – but that’s between us and our therapist.] Others take a more laissez-faire approach to household chores.
Inevitably, members of these opposite factions often find themselves living together. For some, leaving cornflake-studded bowls and half-drunk lattes in the sink all day is just a way of life. For others, a day is not a day without feather dusters and the aroma of bathroom detergent in the nostrils. So how do you reach an arrangement that’s acceptable to all parties?
One of the more, ahem, disciplined members of the household (see ‘job’s worth’ below) might suggest drawing up a chore rota. Not a bad idea, in theory. But do bear in mind you’re opening the door to a whole world of household bureaucracy, which could extend to who gets to eat the last custard cream in the event that a visiting dignitary declines it.
Nevertheless, there’s a housework-avoider in every dwelling. And if you don’t know who it is in yours – well, it’s you.
The possessive type
That individual who sees fit to label items in the fridge, in case another housemate should ‘accidentally’ use them.
Closely related to the job’s worth: “I think you’ll find you’ve exceeded your ten-minute shower allocation.”
The unexpected guest
Weird enough to find a stranger in your house. “Hello, I’m Susie’s boyfriend/Adam’s sister/Emma’s friend from work,” they say, while chewing on one of your digestives (you’d labelled those, too).
Even more bizarre, though, when said guest doesn’t even acknowledge your presence. So much so that you have to check you haven’t wandered into the wrong house by mistake. Gumtree still has nightmares about the time it came in from work to find a flatmate’s dad in the living room, watching telly in his Y-fronts.
The party you didn’t know you were hosting
You’ve been working late. You round the corner of your street, dreaming of a steaming cup of cocoa and your duvet. You get your key out and slide it gratefully into the lock.
As the door swings open, you’re greeted by a person you don’t recognise (it’s either Absent Dave or a total stranger – impossible to tell). You can’t hear what this character’s saying over the music but you gather there’s some sort of party going on. Your duvet, far from waiting to greet you like a long lost friend, is being used as some sort of coat storage system.
Breakfast with the flatmates the following morning is a frosty affair.
We want to hear your stories about flat sharing – curious, we call it, nosey others might say. Add a comment below. Go on, you know you want to.