Tuesday, 13 January 2009


I was following links in blogs and ended up on a hilarious post about roommates.

I have been very lucky in my life in that I've rarely had to share my space with people I'm not closely related to or in love with. In fact the only times would be when I first moved to London.

When I arrived in London in January 1999 (10 years ago!) I had all of 400 pounds to my name. I'd arranged to crash with old friends for a couple of weeks, assuming that I'd pick up work in no time and move on (Mountain Man would be following as soon as he organised his visa). Richard and Shona had a tiny one-room flat in North London, and I slept on the floor between their bed and the TV and they'd step over me on their way to work!

I really struggled to find work at first and it was March I think before I finally found something. In the meantime Richard and Shona had rented a 4 bedroom house near Wimbledon and were supporting me and at least one other newly arrived Saffa girl! They let me stay in a room of my own rent-free and Richard even ended up lending me 1000 pounds because my cash ran out. What fantastic friends!

In terms of mad housemate stories there I'm probably the one they muttered about. Being unemployed and broke I would sleep late, then catch a bus into town to job hunt from an internet cafe, then I'd come home and read books. I'd cook if it was my turn, and at night after the working folk went to bed I'd stay up very late watching TV and drinking the cheapest grog I could find... I think I was reduced to bottles of sherry at 2 pounds each! Shona and another girl cornered me one day to tell me they were worried about my alcoholism and they wanted to pray for me...

When I finally found work I paid Richard back-rent and repaid the loan, and moved into a room in a 2 bedroom flat in Kilburn, North London. I was sharing with a French/Italian couple who worked at night in a hotel. It was mostly brilliant - we never saw each other as they worked nights and I worked days. I'd see them on the weekend for a bit and they were quite pleasant.

One balmy spring night I was fast asleep when my bedroom door opened. I was awake instantly and I saw my male housemate wandering in wearing just underpants. He pulled back the covers, climbed into my bed, laid his head on the pillow next to me and went straight to sleep. I was lying on the far side of the bed against the wall (because that's my preferred side of the bed... it is also Milord's preferred side of the bed - I had to reset myself when we got together) and I didn't quite know what to do. I don't wear nightclothes so there I was frozen in shock, naked with a strange man in my bed!

I called his name and shook him - no reaction. I climbed over him to get out of the bed, pulled on some clothes, and tried again. Nothing. Then I went to his room, woke his girlfriend and got her to help me... After a lot of calling and shaking he finally roused enough to be very confused and grumpy and she led him back to their bed! The next day he had no recollection and I bought a small bolt for my door...

Mountain Man got to London in midsummer that year and a couple of months later a room opened in Tara's flatshare and we moved in. That was a 3 bedroom flat full of Saffas - we'd generally have at least 2 folk crashing in the living room. It was party central, and I quickly discovered that visiting the party zone was a whole different ballgame to living in it! I need a fair bit of space and quiet from time to time and there was none to be had here... it totally did my head in and again I reckon I was the worst housemate in the mix as I struggled to maintain my sanity. I was grumpy and snarky and disappeared into our room for hours at a time. I was the housemate who'd storm into the living room at 2am to switch off the blaring stereo, and I was the one who drew up the chore-roster and worked out the phone and grocery bills.

I liked the people (a couple of whom are my close friends) but I hated hated hated living with them!

After a year I convinced Mountain Man to move into a place of our own... and that is the last time I ever had a housemate. I'm not a "sharer". I simply can't do it!
Never again.

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