Last year I moved from the UK all the way to Sydney. Reasons? I can dot down just a few. I was fed up with the stress in London and the miserable weather. I just split up with my girlfriend and as we worked together for the same water board company, it only made sense that I resigned as soon as. I am an avid surfer, so after debating with myself if I should head down to Cornwall to at least spend the summer there until something turned up, out of the blue a mate shared a link with me for an open position in Manly, Sydney. I packed my bags to become a kids surfing instructor in a paradise location. A dream job or what? Moreover, the Australian Open of Surfing was only in a couple of weeks, so I couldn’t be more excited than I was.
More hopeful than realistic, I jumped on the plane, full of goofy optimism. On the flight, I met a couple of Brits, much younger than me, who were heading accidentally to the same area for a year, on some student exchange program at the Australian Pacific College. They offered me to stay with them as there was a spare room in their prearranged accommodation. Things couldn’t get better. The guys were clearly computer geeks, seemed sound, so I just said “yes” to the offer. What they didn’t tell me was that the three of us were going to share a house with four other people, who the boys did not know. They much rather wanted to live in a permanent party-like atmosphere (their words) than join the boring IT student community at the optional accommodation, provided by the university. And me? I simply had no choice at this point, because I could only afford a shared accommodation.
My first impression of the property: a spacious house, but appallingly overcrowded and dirty. The place was littered with vicious little post-it notes haranguing whoever had left hairs in the shower, or ‘borrowed’ a few spoons of sugar or left a pan too many, unwashed in the sink. From day one, it was a nightmare, to say the least.
In my student years, I had brazenly taken this sort of thing in my stride in rented digs but now, in my early thirties, I had acquired some new oversensitivity that had me creeping around the place on eggshells or waiting for everyone to go to bed before I made some toast in the kitchen. Most of the others in the house were very young and had never lived away from their family home before and seemed to be in a state of perpetual rage and indignation that mess didn’t vanish by itself overnight, washing machines didn’t unload themselves and that this experience was absolutely nothing like the saccharine-inspired US sitcom ‘Friends’. I knew London was a jungle, but this! My fellow Brits seemed to go about their business, totally unfazed by the situation. I tried to put up with it for a while, being a newcomer and all this… I just didn’t want to be the nagging nuisance that everyone would grow to hate.
One day, I resorted to the only thing I could think of. When all the tenants went to a birthday beach party, I called some professional local cleaners, who did wonders for the shared communal areas of the house.
After all, what everyone did with their own space was their business. If they liked to live in a squalor-bedroom, so be it. I backed my actions up with a huge notice on the kitchen door that listed each of us and their cleaning duties on a rotation basis. I did not forget to note everyone’s share of the cost, they owed me, for the cleaning company guys I had to call. I swiftly reminded them about their rights and responsibilities as tenants.
Surprisingly, my plan not only worked, but exceeded my expectations. That Sunday, my house-mates sorted their rooms out. The number of rubbish bags, we ended up with and had to throw, was unbelievable.
That Sunday, we all shared a drink together in the yard for the first time.
Love nature! I'd never seen moss in such a saturated orange color. A perfect combination with the sea blue behind...
I am here now, might as well make some music.
The pitfalls of reverse psychology or how my husband turned our garden into a war zone
Moving In, Moving Out, Moving On!
Imagine if your days are numbered. How would you spend your life? What would you do? Who would you be?
Harry, aged 4 1/2: I've got a new best friend, mum; she laughed when I nearly cracked my head open...
Sol Lewitt wall drawing vibrates the room in his exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW
Memories of one of my first website builds.