A desperate friend of a friend called me up asking me to complete the final month of her contract after she was offered a six month placement with a Spanish dance company. Having hit the wall after living with my parents for four months, only a fool would say no. I was then to find out, to my absolute delight that I am now spending the next four weeks in a house full on hippy-like strangers that are touring a theatrical comedy around the North East…and our landlady also lives here (they are almost always ladies). After living in lots of accomodation, I am used to staying in digs like these and find it quite exhilirating living with complete strangers. These are people who volunteer to go on a theatre’s list of possible places for actors to stay when away from home. The composition of a digs list is normally 90% gin-addled widows, 5% couples with no children and 5% men who don’t own the house and might kill you. I think I have done pretty well to finish up with these people
“Pets welcome,” means the landlady (never actually had a landlord) has between 4 and 16 cats and will expect you to laugh and coo while her beloved mogs claw painfully at your bosom and spray piss on your legs and possibly breakfast. Expect to be woken in the night by the friendly little fuck batting your face like it’s torturing a frog.
“Smoking allowed,” means the landlady (in one instance landlady equals Grandmother. An unfortunate turn of events landed me living with my Grandmother for two months) smokes between 80 and 1000 cigarettes a day. You will live in a permanent fog like a lighthouse keeper, everything you own will smell like it has survived cremation, you will no longer be able to taste and you will turn the colour of Mr Happy. But you won’t be happy. I am certainly not happy, as a labelled ‘trying to quite smoker’ I have already accelerated my own death by 16 years and potentially the next eight weeks could pile on another 4000 like a ton of bricks upon my chest. My grandmother is a woman whose ashtrays looked like tiny horrific Kilimanjaros. She is the only person in my life that I have genuinely had to check whether they are dead or not.
In my last shared accomodation I lived with “Likes a quiet house,”lady. This lady (majority are women) is a nazi. She will come into your room without knocking. The heating only goes on between 5 and 5.15pm. Your socks need to be separated before going in the wash. You left a cup on your bedside table. You forgot to double triple lock the inner outer gate. Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself.
After only living here for nine days, I can tell that my latest landlady is a gem and I think sub-consciously I am wreaking revenge on her for all the previous landladies. I am enacting my vengeance in the drunken phases of an evening known the next day as the “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about” phase.
A case in point, the other morning I awoke in Leeds to a lovely fresh chirping day. I could not remember getting home but that was OK. I’m not hurt, I thought. I’m home. A success. Wait. Something weird underneath my pillow. An empty squeezable mayonnaise bottle? But where’s the mayonnaise? Oh it’s in the bed. I must have squeezed it out. Oh well. No harm done. I’ll wash the sheets. Downstairs I am greeted by what looks like a crisp black coin that has been taken from the oven and carefully displayed for my benefit on some kitchen roll on the hobs. There is also the smell of fresh cleaning. All rather suspicious I thought. Why was she making pizza for herself for breakfast? And why has she burnt it so badly? Then a realisation that was too long coming. It was my pizza and I had left it in the oven and gone to bed. Upstairs my drunk mind must have got distracted by the hilarious sport of turning myself into a giant sandwich before passing out. I later learned that when my landlady had got down the stairs she discovered a trail of destruction that could only be explained by my bouncing off the things in her house like a pin ball and I had left mayonnaise everywhere. I was so contrite that it was embarrassing for everyone and I bought her nice things and have been fairly well behaved since.
Amazingly she hasn’t thrown me out. Thank goodness she doesn’t like “a quiet house”.