Middle-class problems: No.32 - Flatmates

It’s not easy living with non-family members...

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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…

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