I’m sat with my three flatmates in the lounge of our home, enduring back-to-back episodes of an appalling cookery show on TV.
I want to switch over to The Big Bang Theory, but one flatmate has claimed ownership of the remote control. I should say to her, “You’ve had your turn, now it’s mine.” But middle-class rules of decorum forbid this. Instead, I say: “You really love cooking shows, don’t you?” hoping she will get the implied subtext. She doesn’t. I seethe inwardly.
The broader problem for many young professionals is simple: squeezed by static incomes and crippling rent rises, having one’s own flat in a big city is out of reach.
The last census, in 2011, recorded 1.85 million houses as non-family, multi-occupancies. So for many, the only way to live in the heart of the action is to suck it up and share both communal space and the questionable TV-viewing habits of semi-strangers.
But it’s not easy living with non-family members: a mystery thief depleting your pistachio stash? Someone’s dirty pans piling up in the sink? What to do? In the past, my fellow sharers have issued such non-accusatory declarations as, “Gosh, I wonder how that recyclable soy-milk carton ended up in the dustbin?” in the hope that the culprit will repent. They don’t; resentment sets in.
But there is a solution: declare an amnesty on past crimes and confess to clear the air. So to my three current and 13 previous flatmates – I have an admission to make: it was all me.
Hmm. Perhaps this is less a middle-class problem and more a living with a slob problem…