Wednesday, July 20, 2011

1986: You drop your drink and then they bring you more

It's inconceivable that the student house of today should not be fully centrally heated, isn't it? However, all the student houses I ever lived in - and there were a few - were bone-chillingly cold.

That all changed in the last year when we found a newly refurbished terraced house located a convenient distance from the university, and even better, just minutes from Presto, Blockbuster Video and a Chinese takeaway. Who could ask for more?

Because me and another friend had found this house, we had first pick of the rooms. He had the upstairs back bedroom with ante-sitting room and sink, thereby making it en suite. I picked the downstairs front room with fitted carpet and gas fire. It had an original Victorian fireplace too, and was painted a calming shade of cafe au lait rather than the Arctic blue, tangerine, smoked trout and acid green of the other rooms. And it was double glazed.

The only drawback was that it was £25 a week. A fortune in those days for student digs, especially when you spent all your money on clothes, records, booze and fags. Priorities, you know.

But it was a great house, fully furnished, downstairs shower and upstairs bathroom, no queues in the morning, colour telly (ancient, but hey). It had it all.

Of course it didn't stay like that. By the autumn term end it was a shithole. My mum offered to come and clean up after Christmas, but when she saw the state of the kitchen her wretching got in the way. We never washed up. In the end we just threw the crockery away as no one was going to crack.

The bathroom was by now a biohazard, and I'd forgotten I'd left a shirt tie-dying in the aftorementioned en suite sink and the constant drip-drip of the tap over the holidays had ensured that the sink overflowed for three weeks, turning my housemate's record collection into nothing more than soggy cardboard. Thankfully, as I was first back, I whacked the heating on, it all dried out and he never noticed the watermarks. I would have, but that was the difference between us.

Halfway through that first term there we decided to have a party. Amazingly, I was quite happy to push all my stuff to one side and use my room as the dancefloor. Everyone smoked everywhere so that wasn't a problem, but trying to get the smell of Kestrel and black out the carpet defeated me. Not that I tried that hard. I just hoped for the best. Anyway, it was a roaring success, but I still feel faintly nauseous when I think about white wine, cat pee, lesbians and Indian takeaways.

Now, whenever I hear Driving Away From Home by It's Immaterial, Girlie Girlie by Sophia George, Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald (at a party??) and Medicine Show by B.A.D. I think of that party, but the song that reminds me most of that whole period is Walk Like An Egyptian.

When I hear it I remember how glad I was at last to be warm in that chilly, suede jacket wearing, Morrissey-quiffed autumn, when all I had to care about was tracking down the person who vomited in the fruit cup.


  1. I can't imagine Five-Centres living in squalor. It's just all wrong.

  2. We all have to start somewhere, Chris. And it did have central heating.

  3. I'm concerned about the tie-dyed shirt. I need to know more.

  4. It was read, and I tied it in knots and put bleach in the sink. It should have looked like flames, but in fact it just fell to bits.

    Lesson learned.

  5. Are you still in touch with that housemate? Or more the point, have they ever forgiven you for destroying their records?!

  6. A shirt of flame. Fine idea. No wonder you had to try it out.

  7. Kittens on my site F-C ... course, you'd know if you had a link to o-p hint hint !

  8. Sorry OP I thought I had. Perhaps it's dropped off. I'll remedy it immediately.