Had my landlord noticed sooner that Fay and I were not the same person, he would have evicted us. Luckily, he seemed not to realise. And so for five months, at university in Brighton, Fay, my boyfriend and I shared a “studio” (although you could sue any estate agent who called it that). A pied-à-terre? Only if that is French for rat trap.
It had two tiny rooms on a half-floor in a grand Georgian house. The boyfriend and I slept in the bedroom; Fay on a mattress by the kitchen sink. It smelt of fish — and not just on Fridays; there was a hole in the wall you could stick your hand through to check if it was raining; you had to feed the shower — shared with five other bedsits — 20p. However, the front of the building looked posh and it was a bargain. We paid just £30 each a week.
Sometimes the boyfriend got drunk and passed out on Fay’s mattress; I had to cook standing by Fay’s head. On some nights the stench in the kitchen became so unbearable the three of us would decamp to share a bottle of wine in my bed. But we loved it: saving our money to go clubbing instead.
Is this the most cramped place I have lived? Reader, are you kidding! When I got my first tax bill as a freelance writer I was so broke I had to move into my best friend’s bed for three months. Which was generous of him and his girlfriend.
We fell in at different times, slipping under the covers at 2am, dressing in the mornings in silence. Sometimes overlapping, platonically spooning in twilight, promising one day we would laugh about it. (Not yet.)
I put this cramped living down to me being a spendthrift. Turns out, I am on trend. Now Tetris-living is a trend, with a cool name: “hutching up”. Which makes it sound sexy, as if we are at it like rabbits. Soon it will be covered by Vogue.
Hutching up is the new house-sharing for Generation Rent: a competitive game of sardines to see how many people we can pack into a space to keep our rent down. We eat our dinner in bedrooms so we can rent out the dining room. We partition bedrooms with Japanese screens and reclassify cupboards as loft rooms. Renting out the living room, the kitchen . . . we would rent a bathroom if we could.
Read the full feature here: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/focus/article1453103.ece