Housemates. I could write a book on how many different characters I’ve lived with over the years, but perhaps a blog post will suffice. I am currently sitting in my local coffee shop, nursing a long black and hiding from my current housemate after he thought it was a great idea to lock his dog into my room to keep her out the way whilst he moved an entire tree through the house. She is very young, excitable and has a weak bladder (the dog not the housemate) and decided then and there to demonstrate her elation by urinating on my clean sheets. Despite this, I still prefer the dog to the housemate, who is probably the messiest person I have ever lived with, which I could forgive if it wasn’t for his quite frankly outdated views on the world, refusal to recycle and excessive consumption of meat and constant criticism on everything I cook, read and have an opinion on. We don’t really get along if I’m being honest.
London is home to people from all over the world, and due to a serious lack of affordable housing you will usually find yourself renting with complete strangers. It’s something I love about the city, you meet people you might never have otherwise met, and you end up doing things you might have never done before. I have lived with obsessive cleaners, obsessive disorderly’s, eccentric vegans, non-stop party animals ( I lived above a pub for a few years on minimal sleep) and complete couch potatoes. I once lived with a couple who would frequently have screaming rows and throw plates at each other whilst, but otherwise seemed to be completely and madly in love. My pal lived with a girl who used to collect roadkill and keep it in the freezer. He would find anything from squirrel to badger stuffed next to his frozen peas, stored in plastic bags until she was ready to make her next lasagna.
Some people I have been fond of, others not so much but I honestly don’t regret living with any of them. Admittedly, in my current situation I try not to be in the house most of the time (thank goodness I am only subletting for two months), but it’s meant I have managed to explore the local area, find places I might not have otherwise found on my wanderings and even make friends with local baristas. In a world that feels like it is becoming increasingly antisocial, it’s refreshing to meet people from all walks of life that I might otherwise not have hung out with. I think it’s healthy to step outside your friendship bubble, to meet people who challenge your views. I have learnt a lot from the people I have lived with (particularly patience) and the distant relationship means you don’t have to explain that sometimes just want some time to yourself. You learn to converse with all kinds of people and find things out from all different industries. I lived with a mid-wife who brought home a birthing pool one hot, summer evening and we filled it up and used it to have a dip/ a balcony beer cooler. I probably would have never considered a vegan diet until living with one guy who was by no means going to compensate on flavour in his diet and made the most wonderful and interesting things.
This kind of friendship is inimitable, it’s something that comes with hours of trawling through SpareRoom ads, through weird “interviews” in people’s houses and sometimes through a friend of a friend having a spare room. If you’re having doubts or finding it tricky remember it’s not forever. There is a load of us out there all going through the same questionable experiences, and you’ll never be stuck for a story at a party. As a generation of housesharer’s I hope renting with strangers will catalyse us becoming more accepting, more socially intermingled and find friendships in unexpected ex-council flats in Angel.