As this is the first instalment of my column, it would be natural to give a little bit of background to what I’m going to be writing about. For the uninitiated – by which I mean the presumably tiny portion of the population that did not read my article in last week’s Cherwell- I have recently moved out of college and into a house in Cowley, and I haven’t really been able to stop talking about it since. The purpose of this column, therefore, is partially so my friends don’t have to suffer my endless ramblings on the highs and lows of our lovely house, and partially to serve as sort of guide to those who might be considering (or being forced by their colleges) to live out.
With the residents having arrived in dribs and drabs over the course of the last month, our house only reached its full capacity last week, so we decided to celebrate by having our first so-called ‘family dinner’ on Saturday night. This is a weekly tradition agreed upon long ago, when the house was nothing more than a group chat and our friendships barely formed. The aim was to create a bit more of a normal household dynamic than you get in the kinds of huge college buildings we have occupied for the last two years. It’s perfectly possible of course that once term starts our weekly schedules will never again align for long enough for us to sit down to a meal, so I thought it would be good to record this first, and possibly only, occurrence.
I think my housemates would agree (and if they don’t – tough, it’s not their column) that we all came to the dinner with something of an agenda in mind (on the subject of my dearly beloved cohabitants, they agreed to this column on the proviso that they would not be named in it. To make things less confusing I am allowed to refer to them by nicknames. They did not, however, think to ask me if they would get any say in what these pseudonyms would be. I will henceforth be referring to them as: The Poet, The Cook, The Thespian and The Classicist. I’m sure it won’t take them long to work out who’s who…). Back to the dinner and the various expectations placed upon it: The Cook, professing to be distressed by the constantly chaotic state of the kitchen despite being responsible for at least half of the chaos, wanted a cleaning rota. The Classicist wanted us all to appreciate their vegetarian take on smoked salmon blinis. The Thespian just wanted that godforsaken tap in the upstairs bathroom to stop screeching so they could hear themselves rehearse – or if that was too much to ask, for The Poet to stop swearing at it each time it made a noise. The Poet wanted to drink red wine and enjoy some pleasant intellectual conversation. It goes without saying that all I wanted was material for this column.
I think it is a good omen for the next nine months that almost all of us got what we wanted out of the evening. The blinis were delicious, the wine and conversation flowed in equal measure, and the cleaning rota was drawn up, albeit at 3am with slightly wine-addled brains. I got my column’s worth of material, and The Poet agreed to stop swearing at the bathroom facilities – the whine is persistent, but you couldn’t really expect a dinner to solve that. The plumbing problems did precipitate the kind of conversation we have been quick to learn occurs only among housemates, however: a lively debate about whether it was normal to brush your teeth whilst on the toilet. The result was a 40/60 split, with two of us maintaining it was a perfectly reasonable time-saving hack whilst the other three called this group unhygienic cave people. The argument was only settled when I promised to ask this paper to conduct a student survey to prove at least some of us right.
Going into the next dinner, discussion of each others’ sanitary habits is firmly at the bottom of my agenda. At the top: music. Why does The Poet need to listen to Kanye West when they wash up? What is The Cook’s obsession with Radio 2? Knowing my housemates, I’m sure everyone will have plenty to say in their own defence. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.