This Student Life: Uh-oh! It's a boy versus girl thing

The students are starting to get up each other's noses. Who's to blame? Well, it's got to be someone's fault... By Cayte Williams; Easter break, week 12 at the Manchester Student House
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The Independent Culture
IT'S THE Easter break for the students. At least they'll be getting three weeks of holidays - valuable time when they can study for exams and calm down after a fraught couple of weeks in the house. Leona's gone to Liverpool to visit an ex-boyfriend, Tasha's gone home to her family and Ian's heading off to his home town of Leeds.

There has been tension at home. Rosie is furious with Ian for slagging her off (he called her opinionated and narrow-minded) and has gone back to her parents in London until it's time to go back to college. "I want to spend as long as I can out of that house," she says.

"Ian calls me narrow-minded," she explains, "but I'm only like that about him because I've given him so many chances. He's always stressed! Either it's the stress of girlfriends or work, but he works no harder than anyone else, and suddenly he'll just flip out and start yelling at people."

Ian seems to have a short fuse, and one person who got burned was Rachel, who moved out a month ago. When she was living with him they had a huge argument and she took her grievances to the landlord.

"I found out from him last week that Rachel went around to see him crying her eyes out," says Ian. "She was trying to get me evicted, but the landlord told her to talk to an official person at the university." The problem was that Ian and Rachel both have strong opinions and this was bound to lead to trouble. "She was always trying to cause arguments all the time, trying to make herself bigger than she was," insists Ian. "She always wanted to get recognised by arguing all the time."

Even the girls, who always got on with Rachel and would probably disagree with that pronouncement, were surprised by her reaction. "Ian came to us for advice and we tried to help him," says Rosie. "It was really unfair what Rachel did, but he needs something to stop him from freaking out on people. He has big angry rows with people and he calls them names. He said some dreadful things to Rachel." Rosie feels that she's tried to help Ian through a problem, only for him to slag her off, and she's had enough. "I couldn't care any more what he thinks of me," she sighs. "I would never say openly what I think of him. I just couldn't care less."

But if Rosie thought she'd get any support from the boys, she was mistaken. She finds it particularly irritating that the boys all protect each other whenever there are any problems in the house. "They won't say a word against each other," she says. "David and Alistair are really good to live with but they don't say anything about another bloke. Robbie is stuck in the middle [he lives on the first floor with the girls, while the other boys live on the ground floor] but he knows Ian better than anyone else and he wouldn't agree with me even if he knew all the things I've said about him were true."

While the girls try to muck in with the boys, Rosie reckons the boys don't make too much of an effort. "When two of them burst in on Leona in the shower she was really upset, and they were apologetic," recalls Rosie. "But it turned into a war for a week, with food fights and arguments. I don't understand why they have to make everything a boy versus girl thing, but they do."

David, meanwhile, is trying to be diplomatic about Ian. "There was only one big argument between him and Rachel," he explains. "There was always tension between those two. It just built up and blew out." So what was the problem? "Ian's from Yorkshire and Rachel was brought up down south," continues Dave. "I suppose Ian's a working-class lad and Rachel was more arty. Ian wouldn't take any pretension." So what does he think about Ian's clash with Rosie? "I don't want to say anything to get my balls chopped off," he replies.

So is Ian really this terrible creature who made Rachel cry? "I just get on with a certain type of person," he says, "and you either like me or you don't. That's the way I am; I don't like trying to get people to like me."