When I lived in a flat in Central London, the only reason I had good luck with flatmates was because it was my flat and I could choose who moved in. Thus, while my peers were living in shacks where people left pubic hairs on the soap, ate all your food and had sex and played music at an ungodly hour, I could pick and choose.
I veered between taking in very dull and studious PhD students, who were good because they were quiet, but bad because they were dull and studious, and eccentric people who were amusing, but sometimes had to be asked to leave. One case in point, a girl called Anne who was taking a career break in order to find herself, and holed up in her room for two months, until the floor was knee deep in crisp packets and pizza boxes. I think she was having some kind of breakdown. In any case, the few conversations I had with her were decidedly odd. She was obsessed with having a threesome with two men, and would often prowl nightclubs and start chatting to two male friends, and then at the end of the night, when she suggested going back to hers for a threesome, they naturally made their excuses and left (without Anne). I didn't want to be mean, but honestly, the girl was wasting her youth chasing her fantasy. Hello: two male friends at a regular club are probably straight and probably don't want to see eachother's naked butts. In the end I got so fed up that I pointed out the bleeding obvious: "You need to find some bisexual friends who are old hands at this sort of thing."
"How do I find such friends?" Anne asked, practically foaming at the mouth with excitement.
"Let's just say they usually find you," I said. I didn't want to say, "Look, those sort of encounters only happen when you're not actively looking for them and are reeking with desperation." Instead I just said, "It'll happen," and patted her on the shoulder.
I don't know if she ever fulfilled her fantasy or found herself. But when I could no longer get into her room because the door was blocked with crisp wrappers, it was time to bid her adieu.
The best flatmate I ever had fell somewhere in between the two polarities of swot and loony. The funny thing is that the first time I met her I was totally drunk.
It was ten on a Saturday morning and I'd just got back from some club at maybe eight am, and had just got to sleep, when someone started ringing the doorbell. I was about to open the door and tell them to go away. In fact, I did open the door and looked down to see a tiny girl with lots of curly brown hair, sporting a huge cheerful grin and a French accent straight out of a porn movie.
"I am 'ere to see about the room?" she said, still grinning, unperturbed, at me, who was wearing a shabby dressing gown and looking like shit.
A tiny light in my brain went off. Yes, something about interviewing flatmates today?
"Yeah, right," I croaked, and led her into the kitchen. "Would you like a cup of tea?" I said, losing my balance and walking into a wall.
"You're French, aren't you?" I repeated, every few minutes, until I'd forgotten I'd already said it and asked again.
Brigitte did not seem put out that I was behaving like a drunk person who had no recollection of speaking on the phone with her a week ago. She babbled on about how she was twenty-six, and just left her upper class twit of a husband, and was very interested in renting the room.
When she had gone, I went back to bed and forgot all about her. A few other people rang at the door, but I just put a pillow over my head and went back to sleep.
On Monday she called me. She loved the room. When could she move in? I said, any time you like.
Don't think Brigitte was clueless. I later found out from a friend of hers that after she'd seen the room she'd told the friend, "The landlady (me!) was very nice, but I think she was drunk."
I don't know about you, but if I saw my landlady drunk in the morning the first time I met her, I would seriously consider not moving in. But thus is my charisma that she wanted it (the room). More likely it was the fact that the room was cheapish and that cheapish rooms in Central London are like gold dust. Whatever it was, she moved all the stuff from her marriage into her room. And she had a lot of stuff. As you can imagine, having a sewing machine, a couple of hundred shoes and lots of hats in there hardly left room to swing a cat.
If I'd been a man, I would have constantly been walking into walls, not due to drunkenness, but due to excitement. Brigitte was always wandering around the flat in nothing but very expensive matching frilly thong underwear. When she was wearing something, it was usually micro shorts. She'd bend over in the shorts to get something out of the bottom of the fridge, leaving nothing to the imagination. I don't know why she did it. Maybe the upper class husband had liked her bending over like that to get stuff out of the fridge. Whatever the reason, I didn't ask.
There was a brief period of a few months before Brigitte started dating an upper class twit of a boyfriend, when we were young girls out on the town, looking for adventure.
For some reason that now escapes me, that first Christmas Eve, we decided to go to midnight mass. On the way to the church we stopped in a Soho pub for a drink, and she started flirting with these two guys who were standing at the bar. She was nothing if not a speedy operator. When I came back from the toilet, these two guys were sitting at the table beside ours and chatting away to Brigitte. She whispered to me that one of them (obviously the one she fancied) had come up to her and given her a corny line along the lines of, "Wherever you two are going tonight, we want to come too." Corny, but effective. The one she liked, let's call him Carl, dark haired and about six foot four (she came up to his navel), wasn't even put off, she said, when she'd told him we were headed for church.
The other one, let's call him Steve, was quite hot, so I thought, why not? We got talking, and all got on so famously that, well, let's just say that no one made it to church that night.
Another memory that will never leave me, was the time I watched Brigitte fake an orgasm.
I used to work as a sub-editor on a magazine, and one evening my colleague Mark and I got back to my flat late, to find Brigitte sitting in the living room, wearing only a nightdress. She had been drinking some wine and was a bit tiddly. Anyway, somehow we got onto the conversation of how good she was at faking orgasms. I said, "Okay, let's hear you then." And she said, "Oh no, I would have to be lying next to a man to do zis properly."
So naturally, Mark offered himself up for the experiment. He sat down beside her on the couch, and we switched off the lights. She grabbed his lapels and started moaning away. I thought I was going to wet myself with the effort of trying to suppress my laughter.
Unfortunately, the experiment was not a success. Brigitte declared that she felt too self-conscious and couldn't follow through. Mark laughed and pretended to be annoyed. "I can't believe you don't even fancy me enough to be able to fake an orgasm with me," he said. "That's fucking charming, that is!"
Soon after the fake orgasm episode, Brigitte started going out with an upper class twit and (I'm guessing here) started faking her orgasms. One of the big problems in that relationship was that she loved oral sex and he wouldn't (or couldn't?) do it. This went on for six years (Yes, I know, six years without oral sex when you are mad about oral sex. I didn't say Brigitte was sane). When she did finally get him to go down on her, he found he didn't much care for it, and apparently jumped out of bed shouting, "I have an idea!" He then ran into the kitchen and came back with some cling film (Saran Wrap) and attempted to complete the um, transaction, using the cling film as a barrier. Let's just say the experience wasn't much of a success, and soon Brigitte was asking me to procure someone solely for this purpose (oral sex sans cling film). Since I don't run a gigolo emporium, I turned to Mark for help, who supplied her with a fitness instructor he knew, who was happy to help out. And despite the fact that this fitness instructor was fantastic sexually, Brigitte told me that being orally pleasured by him hadn't fulfilled her as she'd thought it would, because there was no emotional connection.
After that, she went back to the upper class twit. The last I heard was that they'd split up. I haven't heard from her for a while, but I'm sure she will be dating another upper class twit by now. We all have our fetishes, and I'm afraid Brigitte's was the floppy fringed English public school boy.
I just hope she's not still faking it.