Photo: Jamie Clifton
Ah yeah, turns out you had about four days to move and about 45 stolen minutes at work to cruise Gumtree and find somewhere, so in your desperation you ended up in this sort of odd-smelling two-bed out near Manor House – always Manor House for some reason – and your flatmate is this curiously-old-to-be-renting type who is, like, a teacher or something ("Means I'm down early and I'm up early," they say, abruptly. "I assume that's OK with you? My age is such that I only accept you paying me rent via a cheque for some reason") and you both live in an uneasy parley where they don't talk to you and you don’t talk to them.
Neither of you really feel particularly comfortable using the front room, even when the other person isn't there (because that click of their key in the lock makes every muscle in your back tense up because you know they’re going to come in, loom at the door, take off the five or six cagoules they seem to be wearing at once, as well as their cycling gloves, then nod to the TV – you are embarrassed to admit they’ve caught you watching Made in Chelsea because you just wanted something safe and glossy and mindless – and say "what's that?", and you have to explain that it's a show about 12 posh people who keep shagging and crying, and they say "hmm" and announce that they’re going to bed to read in a way that suggests that maybe they think you're, intellectually, quite primitive) and you have an honest-to-goodness cleaning rota and you can go entire fortnights without really talking to them until they email you (you are both in the house at the time of the email!) to remind you to rinse the sink every time you use it or some similarly manic made-up-on-the-spot-but-rigidly-adhered-to-forever rule (them, looming at your bedroom door, two days before Christmas, as you frantically pack to get a train home: "We did talk about rinsing the sink, didn’t we?"), and so to escape the weirdly claustrophobic life-draining atmosphere of this flat you simultaneously download four dating apps and watch your phone ping fire-hot with all these exciting new connections.You try to wade up to the thighs in the brave new world of dating, seeing as the last time you went on a first date drink was 2014, but suddenly all the rules have changed and the dance moves have updated and you don’t quite know where you fit in, here. You're used to spooning roughly the same shape to sleep night after night after night, but now everyone has a chandelier tattoo between their tits and wants you to put your thumb in their mouth.Second time you roll into work on a Wednesday head still ringing like a bell because a third-date somehow convinced you to do ketamine last night, you realise it's time for you to stop, and you book an entire flight to LA to take a fortnight drying out and trying to recalibrate yourself. Maybe you’ll get into walking, or something. Get bang into juice. The total running cost of dealing with this break-up is closing in on about eight grandYOUR WEIRD OLDER FLATMATE HAS EMAILED YOU AN EIGHT-WEEK MOVE OUT PERIOD AND YOU HAVE FAILED AT RENTING!BACK TO THE START