My house

What a weird morning it was. Had to clean up my house (okay, one corner of my house) so I could have my photo taken there for a newish magazine called The Gloss. Now, as anyone who has been to my house will know, it is peculiarly resistant to DIY fixes like Mr Muscle. It’s a very, very old,  high ceilinged and dilapidated house — packed with gilt mirrors, bay windows and the like — which I share with four friends and many spiders. I think it’s charming, but people who have visited have called it everything from “a complete health hazard” to “sorry, it’s just creepy”. Still, we dusted where we could, Paul cleaned the antique mirror in the sitting-room and I threw pretty much everything we owned into the downstairs bathroom — to give the front room that crucial illusion of tidiness. Then this morning the very nice photographer Sarah and equally lovely make-up person Lydia arrived and — fair play to them — didn’t laugh at my house. Then I tried to do one of those America’s Next Top Model impressions. It would be fair to say I was deeply unsuccessful. But I think the house looked okay. So I felt happy.

After the jump, there’s an article about my odd house and my cool housemates.

Sunday, May 21, 2006 – By Nadine O’Regan
My housemate, Louise, is taking a career break. She is about to spend six months travelling the globe, taking in Asia, the States and Australia.Of course, this also means she is taking a living-in-our-house break. We, her four housemates, are distressed enough about being abandoned (couldn’t she just have watched No Frontiers?).But now, to make matters worse, we have to find a new housemate.

As anyone who has lived in shared accommodation in Dublin knows, housemate selection is a task only slightly less perilous than lighting matches while wearing clothes soaked in petrol. Get it right and you have a wonderful home life.

Get it wrong and there is a demented person abseiling down the walls in the next bedroom, sharpening the kitchen knives and checking for cameras in the ceilings.

I speak from experience, having once had the misfortune to live with someone who believed the following house activities were acceptable: hanging a massive crucifix in the kitchen, leaving the key in the front door of the house repeatedly (‘‘Dublin is safe!” she cried), howling banshee-like in the dead of night, setting the bathroom on fire, and – in a spectacular finale – locking my fellow housemate into her bedroom and refusing to let her out.

Careful? When it comes to interviewing potential housemates, we are relentless in our dedication to the task. But it ain’t easy attempting to be thorough.

When we put up our advertisement on the website, there were 19 responses within two hours.

Nineteen. All for a house that is only available for six months. I shuddered and braced myself for the inevitable (the arguments).

Although we’ll try to be fair – unlike, say, a professional interviewer – we won’t be making use of background credentials and personality tests to establish compatibility. God, no. We will be relying on something much more fundamental – our underlying prejudices, conceptions and misconceptions about our fellow man. Since first impressions are all we have to go on, first impressions will rule. It’s speed-dating for housemates – and we have to get involved with someone.

Before you know it, one housemate will be shouting: ‘‘I hate French people. I don’t want a French person.”

Another, meanwhile, will be pleading, ‘‘Why can’t we have the hot 24-year-old gay bodybuilder? By the time he and I break up, Louise will be back anyway.”

Meanwhile, for the wannabe housemate, the rules of the interview are twisted, terrible and utterly contradictory. Here are a few of them:

Do not look too boring when you arrive at the house.

But don’t look too interesting either. The housemates might admire your quirky sheep-shaped bag, but later they will wonder if it bespeaks a dangerous quirkiness of the soul. They will hesitate. They will not select you.

Do be wary of discussing your girlfriend/boyfriend/predilection for one-night stands. We once interviewed a prospective housemate while her boyfriend waited outside our front door revving his motorcycle. We said no.

Do not ask too many questions that suggest you have needs and desires in relation to the house.

Housemates don’t care what you want. In this situation, they are the equivalent of Microsoft, you are the spotty novice programmer. Deal with it.

Do mention the snazzy stereo/television/DVD/PlayStation equipment that you would like to have placed in the living-room.

Yes, housemates are shallow.

Do not ask questions that make the housemates feel bad about themselves. We once interviewed for the house a sporty couple who asked if there was a swimming pool or gym nearby. We ruled them out on the grounds that they would make us feel guilty about our inability to dive for anything other than the biscuit tin of an evening.

Terrible, I know, but true.

Do be prepared to accept smoking restrictions and cleaning routines, but don’t volunteer such information immediately. Extolling the merits of Cif Mousse is all very well if the housemates are clean freaks, but if they are not, you risk seeming totally terrifying.

Particularly if, ahem, said housemates are slobs.

Don’t be too good looking. Nobody wants to fancy their housemates.

After all this, it seems logical to assume that there would be certain models of behaviour to which we housemates should aspire in tandem. But no. Honestly, we could be tyrants, aliens from outer space, the scariest Shallow Grave-watching axe-wielders you’ve ever seen, and it wouldn’t matter in the slightest.

This is Dublin in 2006 after all. The city where people have begun paying telephone figures for houses the size of your average matchbox. The city where thanks to the property prices and the new elasticity of youth, house-sharing is no longer the preserve of those who have only recently severed the umbilical cord and bounded off to the big smoke. The city of madness.

And, besides, we are close to the Luas.

Interviews for the room begin next week. For those of you about to apply, might I suggest purchasing a surround sound stereo system and PlayStation for the house? It would go down such a treat.

4 thoughts on “My house

  1. Hi Markham, that piece was written a while back — we did get our new housemate, but now it looks like we might not be able to stay in the house ourselves — as the landlord is thinking about doing an extensive renovation which’ll mean we have to move out, at least temporarily:-(

  2. Having roomie trouble myself. Party in the yard at 1am on a Monday was not appreciated by all, least of all me who had a 15-hour shift starting at 8am.

    We could be looking soon ourselves.

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