First term is almost over and after the Christmas holidays comes the obligation to find a damp ridden, badly insulated terrace house in which to reside next year. But hey, you’re going to be living with a group of your favourite people, you’re all going to cook Sunday roasts together and bring each other cups of tea in bed, how bad can it be?
Now I’m not saying that the pressure of sharing a house with your best friends is going to leave you planning to assassinate every one of them in a variety of creatively malicious ways. I haven’t yet calculated a murder method that combines the use of fairy liquid and a grillo pad for my house mate who has probably washed up a grand total of twice this year.
The hysterical, drunken, sobbed declarations of undying love to one another, whilst devouring a post-night-out take away, are still going to be a thing. (If you’re living in an all-girls house, anyway). But the alternative second year living arrangements might just flag up a few strange quirks and wacky personality traits that you didn’t previously know your friends were hiding.
The everyday tasks that combine to make up the nightmare resembling real, adult life can create a multitude of relationship strains. I’ve asked around and documented a few of the odd goings on that have come to the attention of various house mates in the Lenton student community.
Firstly, eating habits. The catered facility in halls does not give much scope for the exposure of the alternative food preferences which some of us have been harbouring. Where most of us feel guilty about snacking on sugary indulgences such as chocolate and biscuits, others, it appears, are partial to the occasional OXO cube. Not even dissolved in warm water. Eaten, quite literally, straight out of the little bit of shinny tin foil that it comes in.
Likewise, without the constraints of designated eating hours, strange feeding routines seem to have emerged. A friend of a friend apparently chooses to perform pretty much a twenty four hour fast followed consistently by bulk cereal eating at some time between the hours of four and five in the afternoon, where up to five or six bowls can be consumed at any one time.
But possibly the strangest of all comes in the form of a hidden fetish, possibly even an addiction for cod liver oil. That’s right, the repulsive white gloop that your mum used to shove down your throat when you were younger, insisting ‘it’s good for you.’ I’m continually finding my house mate hanging around the cupboard containing the mixture, getting it out and putting it back after having already consumed the recommended daily amount.
Still, I suppose if one person gets their kicks out of a questionable fishy liquid that’s their prerogative – each to their own, as the saying goes. It’s when a whole household is forced to adhere to some weird fixation of one individual that problems really arise. One particular case on Bute Avenue involves no one ever being allowed to leave any water in the kettle. Ever. So, for instance, if ever your house mate had just boiled a kettle and you, in turn, made the trip from the sofa to the other end of the kitchen, you would frequently find that the just boiled water had already made its way down the sink. Now, it might not sound like too much of a big deal, but in reality, it’s this kind of shit that, after a while, is really going to grate on you. And then, before you know it, you might just find yourself pouring the remainder of the kettle water on to the bed or maybe desk of said obsessive (To the people of this house – just an idea).
Another example of such behaviour came to the fore when this year’s bout of fresher’s flu moved in. A person who would rather not be named insists that all used tissues are flushed down the toilet and NEVER just casually tossed into the bin. Even if you’re downstairs cooking, the climb upstairs to the bathroom must be made. In fairness, I can just about see the point from a hygiene perspective, but practically, who can really be bothered?
Something else which becomes painfully apparent when you move into a house is who has been made to help out at home, and who has been leading a life of luxury in the hotel of mum and dad. Quite often it’s not that this house mate doesn’t want to help out, the issue is more that they don’t really know how to. One of my house mates was possibly missing her swimming pool in Spain, where she spent this summer, and so decided to make one out of our landing.
To a certain extent, it’s the thought that counts, she was, credit to her, giving mopping a go for what I can only assume was the first time in her life. But with no one around to stress the importance of the dip, RINSE, mop routine, she just made more mess for everyone else to clear up. Unfortunately, she didn’t stop there. Mopping, or in this case, the spreading of large amounts of stagnant water over a small surface area, seemed to have been a hit. So she moved on her next victim: the bathroom.
This floor was perhaps more accustomed to a complete drenching. However, as it was apparently not realised that it’s necessary to sweep a dirty floor before you mop it, a multitude of dirt, hair and cosmetic discharges combined to coat the floor in a sticky, light brown paste. When I then tentatively pointed out that it could have done with a pre-mop brush, she replied that she was going to do that next.
But, all of this, taken with a pinch of salt and a shot of tequila, is really just all part of the of ‘uni experience.’ We all have our quirks and deep down, we love each other for them or despite them, at least. Perhaps, though, there is one aspect of student house living which does reveal us to each other just that little bit too explicitly. First years, be prepared. The walls in my halls at least, were considerably thicker than the tissue paper that now divides us when the lights go out. Kettles aside, all quirks considered, no one wants to get that personal.