Uh oh! Ominous email at 10AM – "hi guys can everyone make sure they're in tonight for a flat meeting? 7 sharp thanks x” – which can only mean one thing: that planned Tuesday evening you had where you were going to play PlayStation, eat an oven pizza and vape CBD in your room has now been derailed because Someone Really Wants To Talk About The Number Of Beans Being Left In The Plughole Of The Sink.
When you bust through the door – at 7.04PM, because the queue at Sainsbury's was huge and you had to elbow someone to get the last ham and mushroom – all your flatmates are already there in tight-lipped silence, assembled around the kitchen table and turning their heads at you like a firm matron at a 1950s prep school, and it feels: Bad.
You've never actually seen them all in the same room like this before – you tend to bump into Jason on the way to the bathroom because he lives in his room, staring constantly into two computer monitors with the curtains closed, and you only see Marie on the one day a month your shower schedule and hers clashes because she gets out so early and spends so long at her boyfriend's, and you know Pete of course, but you've never seen him here, actually in the kitchen, because all he eats is cereal, and if you're honest you'd actually forgotten Dirk lives here because he's always away for work – but now you actually see them all, assembled together like this, all those sweated-in work shirts and cycled-here-in-those trousers, if you really look at them, you live with a real bunch of nerds: collectively, you look like a Facebook group designed to remember a long-cancelled Cartoon Network series about a kid whose only friend is his robot.
"What's this about?" you say, sliding a pizza into the oven, and it turns out there's a whole agenda – the landlord emailed about not opening the windows too much, Dirk's giving us notice to leave because he got a job in Rotterdam, someone's lost a tub of Bouillon ("My mum brought it back from France, actually," Pete’s saying, "So: yeah") and you have to sit through this for honest-to-goodness one hour twenty minutes, until your pizza has beeped that it's cooked and you've taken it out of the oven and watched it cool in front of you because you assumed you'd get an opportunity to eat it but it didn't seem like that kind of meeting.
And god, oh god, this is how the world is divided isn’t it, into Bores and Not Bores, and you’ve somehow landed in this actually-quite-affordable-for-what-it-is flatshare with four charisma-free nobodies, you may as well be living with a handful of tidy rocks, and you go to parties at your friends' houses – they live with their uni friends, or two couples, or five lads who just love cans! – and think about how good it is, there, how good they have it and how much fun they have, because yes it's nice that it's quiet here sometimes and everyone is very respectful of the shower schedule as well as the laundry policy (Dirk is very good for taking your T-shirts and socks out of the machine and actually hanging them up if you’re not around to do it, and honestly fair play to Dirk for that) but can you not feel the very marrow within your bones withering and dying beneath you as you spend even more seconds and minutes and hours surrounded by these people?
"We were thinking of all chipping in for a new hoover," Marie is saying, and you just know: you know that you will never relate to this woman, you will never do a horribly-shaped line of drugs off a mirror with her, you will never get drunk and compliment her noble chin, she is cold and dead inside, she cares about hoovers, you cannot wait to not be here anymore. You've eaten your pizza. They lean forward. "Another thing," they say. "It’s about your music—" and ah, this is it, isn’t it. They are going to ask you to move out. The temerity of these people. I'm the best thing that ever happened to you! Don’t you normies reALISE!
YOUR LANDLORD DOCKS £200 FROM YOUR DEPOSIT BECAUSE YOU MOVED OUT TWO DAYS BEFORE YOUR LEASE WAS UP SO YOUR ROOM WAS UNOCCUPIED FOR TWO DAYS, AND EVEN THOUGH THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE YOU HAVE LOST AT RENTING.