'What are your intentions?'

Life This column about the horror which greeted Judy Hibson when she visited the house her student daughter had decided to rent brought back memories. My own experiences of multiple occupancy can be found here, but something I hadn't remember until today was the initial stages of the house search in my third year. I'd decided that after the horror of the second year I wasn't going to be taken in by the A4 photocopy with the rip-off numbers at the bottom and go directly to the accomodation place and pick something off a landlord card mostly at random.

I was at the office as it opened and started browsing, and within about ten minutes there were five of us in there all looking at single rooms and bedsits. So someone (I forget who although knowing me it was probably me) suggested that the five of us could team up and get somewhere together. Everyone was oddly enthusiastic about this suggestion even though we were total strangers. The sound of history was repeating because again as there I was with four girls. This time though, they seemed quite down to earth and well, normal. Also I was the only third year -- the rest were freshers and second years looking for their first house out of halls. I suppose I liked the idea of taking them under my wing.

We'd introduced ourselves by then and started to scour the cards on the walls for a house in an area which was convenient for all our individual colleges. Which is the other reason it felt right -- we'd collectively worked this out very easily and everyone was happy. It was going to be a laugh.

I'd found a card with what seemed like nice place which was five minutes away from class when I became uncomfortably aware of a woman standing on my shoulder. I turned around and she'd obviously been trying to work out how to attract my attention.

"Stuart is it?" She asked.
"That's me. Yes." I said, my mind trying to focus.

I looked the woman up and down. She was an even bigger stranger than my new housemates and yet she knew my name. It was intriguing. The best description I have is that she looked like someone's mother.

"I'm Julie's Mother."
"Oh. Hello. Yes." I said enthusiastically as I tried to remember which one Julie was.

At this moment I looked over her shoulder and across the office and realised that in my rush to find housemates I hadn't noticed that their parents were with them milling about. I suddenly felt slightly intimidated.

"We've been talking..." When she then this I knew it wasn't going to go well.
"Yes."
"And we thought it would be best if Julie lived in an all girl's house."
"Oh."
"It's her first year, you see."
"Right."

I looked over at the girl I thought was Julie. She was doing a good job of looking away without trying to look like she was looking away. My fast friend was running away very quickly. Julie's mother fixed me with a look. it said: "We don't trust you." and "What the hell do you want with our daughter."

"Ok." I finished and she walked away.

As I looked at the others it had become abundantly clear that the group would be sharing a house together. I just wouldn't be with them...

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