Ketchup on the TV remote: enduring the student house


Living in a student house is a confusing affair of love and hate. Your oven burns your food and it’s always a bit too chilly. You may be unlucky enough to have a room not wide enough to swing a cat or, like me, be convinced that there is someone secretly living in your attic. But, nevertheless, it’s new and it’s yours so it’s exciting all the same.

Freshers’ Week comes and goes and before you know it you wake up next to a half-drunk bottle of beer with your shoes on and the taste of cigars in your mouth that you can’t remember smoking. Somehow your alarm has been going off for two hours and for some reason you have slept through the incessant repeating of ‘The Entertainer’ and missed your nine o’clock lecture… again. For me, coming downstairs in the morning after a night out is the worst point of the day. There might as well be a huge sign over the living room door saying, “Shut your eyes and hold your nose because this is what you did last night,” before the stench of half eaten chicken and chips and cans filled with cigarette butts hits you for the first time. You talk to your family on Skype and have to sit with your back to the wall so they can’t see the cess pit dweller that you’ve become.

This is the point when popping home for a night or two seems very enticing, the thought of food that doesn’t make you sick and a bed that more than likely will not have a stray French fry under the pillow from the cheeky doner on chips from the night before. Pyjamas will not be mocked, even if they are the Power Rangers ones that always seem to strangely fit. Hair goes up, make up comes off and there’s no one to say, “Wow, what happened?” Home has doormats, carpet cleaner and Vicks Vapour Rub, none of which you would ever need at university but it is always reassuring to know that at home, they are there.

Home is easy. You don’t have to deal with the moultings of fellow housemates in the bath, or brush your teeth in the sink with the yellow line around it from when an intoxicated friend thought it was a loo. If we could all pop home for an hour or so each night, we would all look a lot better on a night out. We could eat, knowing we won’t have to scrape the mould off our cheese, or be confronted with undeterminable lumps in the mayonnaise. We could have a bath with the option of bubbles, or strange crystals that scratch your rear end, wash our hair and get changed into clean clothes.  But this is the easy option… the option that seems so tempting on paper but will eventually be your downfall. Once you take the easy road a few times, once or twice a week, it becomes the force of habit and you end up neither here nor there, a psychological limbo.

So we must force ourselves to live in grime! Wash ourselves with fairy liquid, use kitchen roll when the toilet paper runs out and obey the three second rule religiously. Girls should turn their pants inside out and wear them again; boys should dry out their sweat patches on the radiator. Continue to watch Jeremy Kyle surrounded with playing cards from an abandoned game of Ring of Fire and leave your garden to resemble a scene from Jumanji. But whatever you do, don’t be the one that’s always up and down because, before you know it, you’ll be halfway up the M3, out of petrol money and out of luck.


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