Ah housemates, one of the many perils of living in Recession Britain
Who can forget Eddie of the rehydrated fruit…
When people exclaim at the hows and whys of living with 7 people, I do my usual spiel of “Yes, I’m Snow White and they are like seven dwarves…”
But the process of selecting these dwarves has become more tense than a forced night watching X factor.
Living in a big house means there is quite a lot of movement and so every 6 months or so we find ourselves setting up to meet potential housemates. We show them around the house and decide if we can cope with them for the foreseeable future and equally if they aren’t too scared off by our health hazard of a house.
The tour AKA most awkward social moment
After a week of Spareroom messages which if were Tinder would make me feel very popular but instead, give me a headache, and it’s very hard to retain your patience when the 16th student sends you a message. “I know the advert says no students but I’m very quiet and….” ARGH. We don’t care if you are quiet, in fact that’s probably a bad thing, we don’t allow students because our landlord doesn’t. Read the advert. Thank you.
Once the initial stress of selecting some suitable candidates is over. There’s the interview day, where we get to pick and choose our new housemate. It’s exciting like a power trip except it’s actually rather dull, stressful and tiring. First of all, trying to remember which one this is (Is it the Ben who likes snowboarding or skiing?) Seriously, how many Dans live in Bristol? It’s like an epidemic. Alongside the hoping they are normal plus secretly willing them to be attractive, can’t just be me who does that…
There is the meet and greet at the door. I always approach this easily enough, with a huge smile, and then we all seem to forget basic forms of human social interactions and it gets a bit awkward. I am never sure on the etiquette, should you shake hands or is that too formal?
The actual tour is easy enough. Here is the living room and this is clearly the kitchen…Any questions, no? Good. Insert a joke or two to keep it light. Explain the problems, skim over the really bad ones like the leaks, explain how a one night themed houseparty= a lifetime of glittery carpets.
I was told by my new housemate that my tour style was too matter-of-fact but who needs an inventory of the kitchen? Anyway the tour is the easy bit.
And that’s where it all goes wrong…
The worst part of the process… where one of my housemates is liable to collapse into a fit of giggles, run out of the room and seemingly hyperventilate. It is the round robin conversation that we have to repeat. Every. Single. Time. The get to know your potential new housemates, i.e. sit in a room and feel as awkward as possible whilst 7 strangers judge you (hey, I have a new format for The Apprentice!) and ask you questions.
But it’s not just them, we feel the pressure too. “I’m an engineer who specialises in …Yeah I quite enjoy it, I went to uni there too…” Spieling off our monotonous monologues of jobs and interests with the same cringe jokes to be repeated for each new housemate’s pleasure (he who laughs will be chosen, unless he laughs too much…) The in-joke at the moment being my state of relative unemployment.
It feels contrived and uncomfortable. Like we are all on an embarrassing first date where we don’t fancy the other person but are obliged to have another drink. Or that we are performing a play, one show after another.
A play with no direction and the added twist that we had to take one member of the audience home.
The house mate hunt is time consuming and socially awkward, no doubt, but it does ensure you meet some interesting people. Here is a collection of some of the more memorable candidates…
The one who broke the bed… (and painted war hammer)
A jolly chap, who paces the room, dressed in a brightly coloured suit. He then informs us that his job is from home, painting war hammer models…You can imagine our reaction.
After he has left we question why he owned such a suit seeings as he does work from home, and wonder briefly if he dressed up for us. Sort of sweet but he still remains on the definite no list.
At one point, he tries the bed (the only person to do so) and there follows a splintering, worrying boing-ing sound as the mattress springs, and our serious resolve, fall to pieces.
The one who didn’t speak English…
Despite my less than organised attempt at scheduling the househunt, I did make sure all appointments were made after 11, a socially acceptable time. The first potential was a Latvian, we were expecting him at 11. At 10 am on a Saturday morning, we hear a knock.
It is surely sacriligious or illegal to wake people on a Saturday at that time.
Those are not visiting hours!
Picture the scene.
I am half awake sitting on the sofa, scantily clad in nighty and complete with cave woman hair. Another housemate in a similar state of disheveledness except she retains her modesty with a fluffy dressing gown. We absolutely panic. She (bless her) gets the door and has an awkward moment as I dash into my room to find something more suitable to wear.
I shout for another of the dw…housemates. My male housemate, fully clothed and therefore the ideal tour guide at that moment, eventually appears and takes care of the whole situation (be it, a little crossly). He does the tour with the Latvian, who at this point we realise, greatly exaggerated his grasp of the English language on his Spareroom message.
I manage to regain my compusure and ask him what he does. I listen politely but have absolutely no idea what he has said. Neither does anyone else. The most awkward silence follows, where every single one of us is willing someone to say something… anything!
When he leaves we have still have no idea what he did or why he wanted to live with us. I do however get told off for my lack of preparedness
The one who overstayed his welcome…
As getting a vacancy in Bristol rental is nearly as competitive as qualifying for the Olympics, you can’t blame a guy for trying. But this guy tried too hard and that ultimately, was his downfall…
We were excited about this one, after some averagely nice guys, just without the spark (again a familar scene to most of my dates), he seemed to have more in common with us than the others.
He turned up and I thought HIPSTER.
Full beard. Tattoo sleeves. Jumper despite mild-warm day. Ach he was so hipster it hurt.
But nice guy… possible contender.
After the standard tour, we had been watching Matilda. We tend to put a film on or something to give the illusion that we all get along (haha – I am joking my housemates are fantastic, lovely people). Anyway…the guy comes in to have a chat… we do our little play script, all going well. We then all end up turning back to the film and the potential housemate is still here.
As Danny DeVito got his hat superglued… the guy is still here. The trunchball chase scene around the house, Matilda hides under the table and the guy is STILL HERE.
Waiting for movement, or any sign of a departure, I notice his hand move up and I think ah he’s going to make his excuses and leave. But no, alas, the jumper comes off. He’s really settling in.
40 minutes later, there is a collective sigh of relief as he leaves. Don’t get me wrong, he was a nice guy but we had several more viewings and we always need time to debrief after each one. It is a time consuming process entertaining and I definitely felt he was the audience member demanding an encore!
The one who made everyone feel awkward…
I actually cannot remember which particular potential I was thinking about when I wrote that title.
It could have been the guy that looked like an extra from the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit set, somewhere Middle Earth way, who hovered awkwardly for a long time until we had to tell him to go. We were pretty convinced we’d see him staring through the living room window later with his bow and arrow. He definitely was more Elijah Wood than Orlando Bloom too, damn.
Or the guy who turned up with a chaperone. Both chewing gum, both with their sleeves rolled up and 80s style outfits. The one who wanted to move in spoke barely five words to me and the other was silent, like a very small but very angry bodyguard.
The one who was too attractive…
Never go for an attractive housemate
Or the following things may happen:
-He will bring back multiple girls and wake you up with his nighttime antics
-He will shave his legs all the time and get mistaken for girl housemates
-He will break the tumble drier
You do not want an attractive housemate because let’s face it, it makes life difficult.
You do not want hot new housemate to see you curled up on the sofa, hungover, mascara all over your eyes, eating last night’s left over curry. It is not worth the hassle.
* * * *
So this time we ended up with a nice enough house mate (just in case he’s reading). In fact he recently bought my a doughnut so is officially my favourite (it doesn’t take much)
He is Welsh, but apparently he looks good in a towel so lots of balcony dawdling planned…