Listen closely lodgers and non-lodgers alike. It may sound melodramatic but acceptance – your first lesson in lodging – is fittingly one of the most important in terms of staying sane and, ultimately, surviving.
For a long time, I didn’t accept my situation as a lodger. I would let being at the bottom of the ‘caste system’ within the house get to me. For example, trying to negotiate with a then 15-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl to watch something we all like on the television would, for a long time, frustrate me enormously. My requests to be fair would usually be ignored or refused. And when we rarely negotiated away from MTV Dance or the Disney Channel, it would inevitably be E4 and Friends or Comedy Central and Scrubs. Often episodes that I’d already seen and quite often they’d already seen. But at least it was a compromise. And that soothed me. Although any equality I had was non-existent when South Park was on.
And when Crazy Yank was in control of the remote, I initially expected negotiation to be greeted with the maturity of another adult. Instead, my meek ‘Why don’t we put on something we all want to watch?’ would inevitably translate into Extreme Sports, some obscure documentary about a molecule that nobody wanted to watch and him commenting ‘How fascinating’ and ‘Wow, get a load of this’ before telling us facts and figures about something completely unrelated… or Nigerian Movies. Whatever his choice, we would watch the television at an average 50 volume (10 was loud enough for the average person). Once I watched, as I sat two metres away from the dolby surround system, as the volume crept to 72. I was screaming inside.
But it is that these sorts of times that I learnt to walk away, down the stairs, close the door and regain some control. Yes, I could still hear the television in my bedroom. I’m sure the neighbours could hear it. I’m sure that’s what made the cat transform into Demon Cat because he apparently never suffered from severe mood swings or a stare that said: ‘Just as you’re dropping off, I’m going to jump up on to your pillow, sit on your face until my furry backside suffocates you and you die’ as a kitten. And no, I couldn’t change the TV channel in my room because all the television channels linked up to whatever was being watched in the lounge. But I could put on a DVD. Read a book or a magazine. And stop myself from screaming inside my head. For a while at least.