The chairmen of the bored

Tasha spends a weekend locked in the house - and decides to become Ally McBeal. By Cayte Williams; This Student Life; Easter break, week 15 at the Manchester Student House
WHEN THE students moved into their huge, rambling house in Fallowfield, they thought it had "limitless possibilities". Not any more. There's only so much squalor a student can take.

"The house is horrible," says Tasha. "Even the boys think it's nasty now. When we moved in, it felt like it hadn't been lived in for 20 years, but we didn't mind. Now none of us can stand it any more. It's so grim. The landlord hates us, the living room's cold and we can't make out-going calls on the telephone." Rather than being a home, it is, as Tasha says, "functional. We sleep and work here, and that's it".

Over Easter, both Tasha and Alistair did time in the house on their own. "I was supposed to be working on essays," says Alistair, "but I was just sitting there staring, or wandering around the house. I feel like I've been in prison."

Over the Bank Holiday, Tasha inadvertently locked herself in the house. "I didn't have my keys, so I couldn't go out," she explains. "I couldn't phone anyone and the only thing to eat was toast." What started out as a grim experience actually turned out well. She took stock of her current situation.

"I realised that I hadn't been on my own for months," she says, "and my whole life is more sorted now as a result of that weekend. I wrote a list of stuff to do. I've been through all my bills and bank statements, and now my room's tidy and my head's clear. It's weird, because when I used to come home I would go into someone else's room and irritate them. It never occurred to me to go into my own room and get on with things."

Tasha and Alistair have become really good friends. She came back from visiting her family and when she returned she found the blankly-staring and essay-writing Alistair catatonic with boredom.

"He keeps trying to distract me. Now I'm really bored as well, because when you think about it, studying's not interesting, is it? He's getting through his essays, but it's taking twice as long."

Tasha's seriously thinking about changing her course. One of the life decisions she made during her lock-in was to apply to do law next year rather than stick to management. "I think that if you have any doubts about your degree by the third year, you should change. Otherwise you'll regret it," she explains. "I'm looking at Manchester and London colleges, and if I don't get in at least I can say I tried."

So why law? Something to do with Ally McBeal, perhaps? Tasha scoffs. "Ally McBeal's a bit dizzy, but I would love to have loads of money, cool clothes, go to bars, drink champagne and have business lunches..." But it's not the glamour which attracts her, rather the David and Goliath thing.

"I love it when little people win against big companies," she continues. "The more you can piss off massive companies, the better. I like the idea of protecting someone's interests, but there are so many different areas you can go into with law and I want a degree that leads you to do what you really want. I'd love to be a barrister."

She's just taken on a rather lowlier job. "I'm answering the phones at Yorkshire Electricity. It's in this huge building with loads of people on the phone, and I'm dealing with callers moaning on about their problems."

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