Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Right now I am sat on my sofa in my fluffy bunny feet, sipping herbal tea by candle and fairy light whilst listening to KT Tunstall. I’ve done the washing up after leaving it for two days and am looking forward to watching One Born Every Minute. You see, at the moment I am living on my own, and can do what the hell I please, whenever I feel like it.
Okay, so it has its downfalls. I have to clean the entire flat on my own, cook all my meals and find myself talking to no-one in particular more often than I would like to admit. Then there is the finance factor. For the benefit of those of you who are blissfully ignorant, living in London aint cheap. And that includes paying for a roof over your head - especially if you live on your own.
So, what to do? Do I suck it up and fork out, or do I return to flat-sharing? I can afford to live on my own, but dreams of buying would be put back quite a few months as I reduce my monthly saving by half in order to pay the rent. Flat sharing would put me in a financially better position but, well, do I really want to go there?
When I first moved to the Big Smoke, that was my only option. On the advice of friends who had already moved to the city, I bought a copy of Loot and starting making phone calls to potential flats within a bus ride from my new place of work. Sadly, my knowledge of London was limited and I ended up feeling decidedly out at sea in Streatham. Having said that, my landlady was lovely, the room adequate and my fellow housemates pleasant if not particularly sociable.
Six months later I ventured into Zone 2 to an ex-council flat near Oval. At first, everything was hunky-dory. I shared with a laid-back Aussie chap and a cheery Irish girl. Happy days – until they both announced they were moving on within two months of each other.
Reader, I admit, I did panic a little. And although I was lucky enough to have a friend who was looking for a place to live at the time, that left me at the mercy of my landlord to fill the other gap.
BIG mistake.
Mick was forty, liked gardening, cycling and sheds. Okay, so what, you may say? So he left his bike in the stairwell, hung photos of sheds in the living room and moved all his furniture out of his bedroom so he could sleep on the floor? Don’t get me wrong, I can cope with oddities, but screaming in my flatmate’s face when she replaced the mirror in the bathroom, loud music when I had a 6am start the next day and general lack of social skills, I can’t. We told our landlord that we would be looking for somewhere else to live if he was planning to stay beyond his initial six months. Luckily Mick decided to move out. Weeks later, we received a call from the British Transport Police asking why he had two cheques from us about his person. They were for bills, but even now I wonder why he was stopped and searched to the point that the contents of his wallets were scrutinised.
Needless to say I insisted that we interview our next prospective flatmate. And so we did – and found a corker. Pank was a great laugh – even though his housekeeping skills left something to be desired – and we were soon heading out with him on a Friday night for a bit of a booze up and a boogie.
Everything was going swimmingly until my landlord phoned to ask if he was still living there. Yes, we replied, why? Well, it turned out our landlord had yet to receive a penny off him. No, not even a deposit. At this point he had been living with us for over six months. Luckily we all had separate tenancy agreements, but we were not amused to be paying a huge chunk of our small salaries when our flatmate was living with us rent-free.
Sadly, my favourite-flatmate-of-all-time moved on. I shared with a couple I knew before one of returned to Canada, leaving me with her bereft other half. One of her colleagues moved in to fill that gap, and they were soon driving me mad with their lack of understanding of how to use a vacuum cleaner or clean a toilet.
It’s over six years since I moved out and into a place of my own, and, after a move to a bigger flat in the same building followed by a financially straining change of circumstances, I am loathed to give up my own home. But then I saw on Facebook that an old uni friend was having to move out of her lovely flat in Finsbury Park because her flatmate is leaving. I have arranged to meet her over the weekend to have a look around and see if it could work. Part of me thinks it could be great, but part of me wonders if I am just getting a bit old for the flat-share set-up. Where would I put my odd bits of furniture? Would she mind my random Paella and Party Games nights – accompanied by several friends setting up camp in the sitting room?
But then, maybe being that little bit older would put us in good stead. We are both adults, could discuss our potential differences when it comes to playing house and negotiate cleaning and bathroom rotas with the wisdom experience alone can give us. I’d like to think it would, anyway.
I just hope she doesn’t have an obsession with sheds or sleeping on the floor...

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