Frustration is so uninspiring. When I’m uninspired I’m angry that I’m uninspired, but the angrier I get the more clouded my mind becomes. I keep sitting down to write columns for the new zine I’m planning, but all I can think about writing is rants about students, rants about housemates and rants about those things combined, plus a bit of racism thrown in for good measure. Impossible? It would turn out that I ended up spending my first year at university living with a racist and a cliché Essex girl in a rotting house in Leeds. When we were shown round the 5 bedroom property, which we were allowed to let as a group of 4, it didn’t seem too bad if a little dusty. The bonus was that the landlord said he was going to refit the kitchen, bathroom and double glazing as soon as we moved in, which I suppose should have rung some alarm bells, but like I said, we didn’t know what we were doing. This eclectic group of first years that I found myself house hunting with were the leftovers from a Leeds University accommodation cock up that resulted in the 4 of us being destined to live out our student days in Wakefield (if you have ever been to Wakefield, you may understand why this prospect was so horrifying). There were posters all over town about a girl who had been murdered getting into a taxi, I wasn’t allowed into any of the bars wearing trainers and the women in the bakery over the road refused to comprehend that something such as vegetarianism existed. With only 4 of us left in this transit camp in Wakefield, I became desperate and agreed to look for a place with them. 25 Hartley Grove was the best of a bad bunch, only faintly leaking, seriously cold and with touches of rot here and there. I think at the time I genuinely believed a couple of posters and a heater would fix all of these problems. At least, I believed this until builders arrived and tore out the windows and the kitchen and then disappeared. With no kitchen and holes around all the windows, 25 Hartley Grove was definitely not somewhere you could justify paying £49 a week for. In fact, the squatters who live up the road came and knocked on the door one day to welcome new squatters to the neighbourhood. The house really looked like an abandoned building, so I guess if I had been squatting it would have been a good find, but instead I was working nights to cover the rent on the house of the damned. Then came the classic student fall out, which I guess was to be expected in these stress-inducing conditions. I keep all my pans in my cupboard because my housemates are absolute pigs and don’t wash up, plus I didn’t want any meat products being left to rot in my frying pan. To me, this is fairly logical, but apparently it’s not. As I said, I work nights, so I sometimes had to leave notes about stuff like bills because I never saw anyone. After I came back from a weekend away, during which the Megabus had broken down on route home and taken an extra 2 and a half hours, I opened the door to find the place absolutely trashed and all my pans dirty. Fuming, I wrote a note asking for them to be cleaned and went to bed. I woke up to find my note inside my pan covered in human shit and notes all over the house telling me how much they hate me. Despite the fact that I was apologised to and interrogated about being a control freak tight arse, it’s kind of hard to forget that you live with 3 people who hate you. Add this to the fact that whenever we try and bond by watching some documentary or movie together, they come out with all this ‘string them up’ ‘hooray for the police force’ ‘you’re just a moron anarchist’(which I’m not) mentality. We finally had half a new kitchen put in, which is falling apart, but my housemates seem determined not to make the best of a bad situation by adding the prospect of a rat infestation. Paranoid? If leaving rotting meat and half empty saucepans of food by holes in the floor doesn’t do it, who knows what does! We called the landlord a couple of weeks after coming back in January to tell him our new bathroom was leaking into the kitchen and that we still had no smoke alarms and that the windows still don’t open and have holes around them and we believed there was asbestos in the spare room. “I’ll get the builders to have a look”, was the reply. I think that was the last I heard of him and I cooked my dinner in darkness because all the lights blew out and we can’t open the fuse box. So, I could go on about this for a very long time, but if you really are bored enough to hear more on the topic of why my migration to the North has started out rather rockily, get in touch. What have I learned from this experience? Students in the first year who have none of their overdrafts left are stupid. It is perfectly possible to eat, pay rent and party with your student loan. If you are running a little bit short, a couple of bar shifts a week will not kill you. Please do not expect me to feel sorry for you after you blow your loan on an IPod and expensive drinks at R’n’B bars. Leeds University Punk Society is the biggest load of bollocks I have ever witnessed, complete with (rather ironically) female sexists who think ‘punk rock’ is publishing a ‘punk rock places to go’ booklet full of junk about how to find fit blokes in the scene. Never move in with a girl who has more hair products than items of food.
Chris 12-oh-5, firstname.lastname@example.org
*All of the above being said, I’ve met some amazing people in Leeds (including every single person I work with at Joseph’s Well) and had some rad times. Unfortunately, all the shit sometimes makes you forget what has made you laugh.
* Cous Cous with everything.
* Hip Flasks are the way forward. Retro, money saving and funny.
* Best thing about Leeds? The Dauntless Elite, check them out now!
* Quite an odd one to finish off with, but check out John Simpson’s autobiography. Whatever your views on him or the media, he has been to amazing places and witnessed some of the most important events in post-war global history. Plus, he got punched by Harold Wilson.