A few years ago, I was flatting with Dougal and Aled. We’d been living together for ages. Our dads were mates from way back. They were all right. I mean, no-one in Doug’s family had bought a round since 1707, and Aled had never had a real job since I met him, but they were ok. Doug worked at a petrol station, selling the petrol he didn’t sniff or steal. Aled claims he used to shear sheep, so I assume “shear” is the Welsh word for bother. I let them both use my car but the deal was they paid for the petrol, which meant Doug did, because he could nick it. It didn’t stop him moaning about me living off “his oil”.

After one crappy winter, when we got our heating cut off ‘coz we were skint, I saw an ad at work for a flatshare. Some sort of hippy commune apartment block thing set up by a couple I worked with called Rudi and Madeline.

The idea was pretty simple. We’d share some of the bills, and do odd jobs for each other, like babysitting, minding pets, or, because no-one had any kids or pets, buying weed. Everyone would have everyone else’s keys, share the garden and the BBQ and even a shitty old combi van. Doug and Aled were keener than I was. I think they were keen to hang around with some other muppets who didn’t make them feel quite as useless as I did.

As for me, there were a couple of Spanish birds living in the second floor flat. The deal was I would pay for two pints of milk in the communal kitty each week. Doug put in some fuel and Aled paid nothing of course, while he was “looking for work”.

Two pints of milk for Sofia and Catalina, and Doug and Aled out of my hands.

We moved in the next day.

Things were pretty good in the building. We often went out together, ate together, cooked together. Friday nights were karaoke night, followed by few spliffs and the Mighty Boosh.

We even went on holidays together. Ibiza, skiing, Santorini. That sort of stuff. It was cool. Well, except for the landlord, who was some rich twat who lived in Belgium and never picked up the phone unless the rent was late. And when the rent was late he sent some Jean-Claude van Dam type around for a “courtesy call”.

One year, Madeline invited us all to her parent’s place in France. It was very civilised, drinking wine in Provence, listening to the crickets all night under the stars, talking shit about world peace.

On the way back from Sex-en-vacances or wherever we were, me and the lads stopped off in Amsterdam for a smoke. It ended up being a bit bigger than that. Tony got into a fight with a couple of Serbian war criminals, and after a couple of hours in A&E we ended up at a seedy place full of Eastern European chicks. They were looking for a place to live, and for work. We were all shrooming and Wout thought it would be waaaay cool if they moved in with us in Blighty.

So a month later, the top flats were occupied by the Eastern Europeans (minus the war criminals) which was good and bad. Good because Ola’s brother Tomasz fixed the boiler, and Kristina got a load of free booze from her bar work. Bad because with all the new people there was nowhere in the street to park and we had too many for five a side on Wednesday nights.

At one point, my cousin Bruce came over to look for work in the UK and dossed on our sofa for a few weeks. Bruce was from somewhere called West Wyalong? He always says it like it’s a question. I don’t know where you fucking come from mate! Apparently it’s a real place, and a bustling metropolis of at least 20 people and 2 million sheep. Aled had heard of it, the little perv. Why they called it “West” I have no idea. It’s not like there is an East.

Bruce not only thought thongs were a type of footwear, but that they were a type of footwear appropriate in winter. I explained that there is no appropriate way for a man to wear a thong. Not in winter. Not in summer. Not. Ever. Not even if you are German, and especially not if it’s leather.

Anyway, Bruce the dosser pissed all the Europeans off who all started to talk about their various cousins who also needed a couch to sleep on. So Bruce had to go. He sent us a postcard from somewhere called Woolloomoolloo, so clearly the whole country is in on the stupid name gag.

By now, and despite the presence of the Polish girls, the flat was starting to feel more like a marriage than a love affair. Madeline spent the whole weekend in the garden, which was beautiful but cost the kitty a small fortune in pot plants, which kept dying. One night I put Finn out there after a few pints to see if the bullshit he constantly talked would help the plants and save us some money. He chucked all over her petunias.

The other flatmates had a bunch of weird habits, which slowly got on my nerves. OK, so Rudi wore leather pants. That was weird, but not as weird as him walking around with no pants. Claudia was sort of anal – I mean – even for a German. She was constantly tidying up and bossing people around. We all called her the cleaning nazi, which she found less than funny. We meant nazi in a good way, of course, but Rudi wasn’t laughing either. Jesus they’re still upset about losing! You’d think four world cups would cheer them up.

Once Claudia decided that I should buy a litre of milk instead of two pints – I mean, what’s the fucking difference? Who cares? Then she suggested we replace all the pint glasses with metric ones. I told her to fuck off I like my 68 millilitres extra thank you very much. Rudi bought a few one litre glasses instead, and after a rather tawdry session with those glasses and some Belgian beer, Claudia wasn’t talking metric any more. There were times when I loved Rudi, leather thong and all.

There were more and more rules every day, and we could never agree on them. It seemed like everyone got to invent one, like some sort of really tedious drinking game except without the shots when you broke one. Dishwashing schedules, times when the music and TV had to be off, no smoking inside, people even talked about cutting back on the drugs. The lists seemed endless.

To make matter worse, we got our finances into a mess. Not the kitty – that was easy (Rudi, Claudia, Olaf, Wout and I put in, everyone else took out). I mean, real finance. Like Stavos borrowing a load of wonga from Rudi and Madeline to buy a car for his new job. Stav got the arse after a week because his gaffer found some bloke in India who could do the job for half the price, and better. No one was surprised, I mean, you wouldn’t have to go through the fucking Bombay phone book to find someone sharper than Stav. The West Wyalong phone book would probably do.

A few hours and a bottle of ouzo later and the car was written off. So now, no job, no car, no wonga. Unhappy Rudi and Madeline, who can’t pay the rent, which the put my arse on the line because I’m on the lease.

Dinner conversation became:

Stavos: It’s not my fault I got sacked! Why don’t you get me a job where you guys work?

Rudi: Coz, like you said, it’s vere ve verk. Scheisse Schtav ! Chust tell your mum to sell her fucking goats so I can pay my rent. And YOUR rent you uzeless fuck.

Me: You loaned money to Stav? Really? Why the fuck would you do that Rudi? STAV Rudi! STAV!

I couldn’t work out who was the more stupid.

Just when thing were going so well in our house, over the road a big fight broke out. There was some shooting at 3am and cops everywhere the next morning. Some guy got his head cut off, and some other guy who still had his head but with some bad shit going down inside it, was on the loose.

And the Arab family living in the place where the fight was were now camped in the garden outside Stav’s bedroom. It was their son. The headless one I mean. I felt awful for them.

I felt bad for Stav too, who was on the phone to him mum each day trying to cut deals about goats. And now the Arabs – the Ben Barka family to be precise – were squatting his flat. Fuck. What a mess. And the head cutter guy was still around so they weren’t going anywhere. To make matters worse, the cops said the psycho was the second cousin of the Ben Barka’s.

This sparked off a big barney. Tomasz called them the Ben Ladens, or the Ben Burkas, and suggested that psychopathy probably runs in the family – which, judging from him and Ola – was a demonstrable fact. We started to argue about the Ben Barka’s three year old and if he could really be considered a psychopath, or whether all three year olds were simply sociopaths (my view). Claudia told him to shut the fuck up and set the mum and kid up in her room, which made the rest of us feel guilty. She drew up a roster which everyone else ignored.

There was no way I was going to go out and try some vigilante stuff regarding the psycho. I mean, I used to go to the gym, but that was, well, before I moved into a household of hot European girls. The gym just didn’t seem to be necessary anymore.

But I knew someone who loved the gym.

Cousin Chad.

Yep – Chad was born in England, but has no happy memories of marmite and soggy biscuits dipped in tepid tea. He moved to the States when he was three, and his IQ hasn’t budged since.

Chad is one of those guys who loves the gym, loves guns, and loves Jesus. Chad thinks that Jesus spoke in English, and did a post-crucifixion tour of Vegas, or Salt Lake City, or somewhere like that. In fact, Chad knows Jesus speaks in English because that’s how they communicate on a daily basis. Chad also thinks his government is trying to kill him. You see, if you can believe a government with a trillion-dollar military budget somehow struggles to kill you, then you can easily believe a nice Jewish guy walked over the Atlantic two thousand years ago. You can believe whatever the fuck you want. The world holds no mysteries for Chad. For someone who knows fuck-all, he’s dead certain about everything.

Someone like Chad is exactly the guy you want around when there is a dude cutting people’s heads off.  I immediately called him but he was caught up in some court case with his kid’s school. Apparently they weren’t so keen on Chad’s decision to encourage his six year old to open carry.

So Chad didn’t show. But Andrei “Dontfuckhimov” the crack dealer, did. He was interested in turning the Arabs’ house into a crack den. So that’s what he did, and beat up Mr Ben Barka when he protested.

So now we have Stav in the living room, the Arabs in Stav’s room, no fucking money for the rent, the Brussels muscles on the dog and bone, psycho-cousin Ben fucking Barking making snuff movies for his Youtube channel, Chad being sued by a primary school, and Andrei’s crack den open for business over the road.

And yes, Claudia still wants to get rid of the pint glasses.


At this point, I started to feel nostalgic for the days of me, Dougal and Aled.