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February 25, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

The Good Old Days

Welcome to another year of potentially shitty flats, shifty landlords and the odd flatmate who is a total emo. Since this is my first one for the year you have caught me reminiscing – what were Ali’s first flats like, I hear you ask yourself?

Well, my first flat in New Zealand (Herne Bay, Auckland) had 4 other flatmates, all guys. They wanted a girl to ‘even things out’ – I so should have seen it coming, but I was only 19. Rob was a dude and was gorgeous and actually quite a regular guy, but he was totally eclipsed by Pete, who was the quintessential wingeing Pom, who used to wrestle with Colin in the middle of the lounge floor late at night, and STILL denied he was even a little gay! (By the way, nothing wrong with being gay – my brother, one of my oldest friends and one of my best flatmates are all raving shirt-lifts). Steve had a succession of girls through his room, who always seemed to leave crying in the very early morning. Never heard any noise…..wonder what he did with them in there…..?

The lessons learned from here were:
1. If the flat is filthy when you move in,the only person who will ever make it better is you!
2. Never flat with 4 guys, no matter what your gender.
3. Don’t ever submerge yourself in the bath unless you actually want to catch a strange disease.
4. Never try to explain to a flatmate’s partner why they are the way they are. That way lies madness.
5. Don’t move into the room just off the lounge.
6. Never bring a lover home unless they have a really thick skin and can put up with the sleazy innuendos of your flatmates.

The next flat I want to tell you about was in Grey Lynn (still in Auckland) with a bikie with a heart of gold and several broken teeth, and a couple who serviced and sold cars for a living. They were all nice people, but the bikie had a puppy which peed all over my records, and the couple used to use the kitty money to buy things like oysters and expensive wine. Lessons learned here:

1. Keep your bedroom door closed if there are roaming puppies.
2. Even the nicest bikie is likely to have friends who are not as nice (and see your bed as a nice place to crash)
3. Don’t flat with couples – they will always gang up on you in an argument – this is natural behaviour and dates back to prehistoric times.
4. Specify exactly what is to be bought with kitty money, or buy your own food. If you are sharing the flat kitty, always immediately replace coffee, milk and bog roll if you use it up.
5. If the lounge is full of car parts, better not to move in – the car parts will be there forever.

Ah, then there was Grafton. Flatmates here: Tom-‘it’s hard to say, really’, Georgina-‘I can’t cope’, Paul-‘that is not my plant’. Tom was a darling, but his girlfriend was very loud during the wee small hours – we nicknamed her ‘The Decibel Queen’. Georgina was always on the verge of breaking up with a total w****r who spent over a year stringing her along until he finally left her for good when she got pregnant. She succeeded in burning down a small part of the house. Paul had a room which backed onto Grafton Gully, where the motorway is now. He had a large number of very healthy marijuana plants on his window sills, and I have an abiding vision of him pitching them through the windows down into the gully as the Police came through the front door during a raid. Some interesting lessons learned here:

1. Don’t try to use the oven after someone else has been using it to dry the leaves of exotic plants.
2. Drying the leaves of said plants in the microwave can easily start a fire.
3. It is always good to keep a pair of ear plugs by your bed.
4. Best to get a separate line if your lovesick flatmate is always crying silently into the phone.
5. It’s best to try and get on with your next door neighbours, so they will stop dobbing you in!

You may think that this is all made up, but every word of it is true, and is a sign of my mis-spent youth, which has made me the fine individual I am today. I believe that “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. Even the names have not been changed (evil chuckle).

This year I have stories coming up of the disappearing bond money, the phantom hole, the house with mushrooms growing inside, the perpetually stoned flatmates and much much more…….

If you have any weird, funny, awful or just plain bizarre stories of your flatting experiences or the naughty things landlords have done to you over the years, please write to me at rentingwithali@ I will print the best ones. Just two provisos here – they must be true (and I can smell a lie at 50 paces) and you must tell the whole story (I will not use names if you don’t want me to).

Love and Kisses,



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