John Birmingham wrote so much better when he was writing gonzo journalism rather than the sci-fi books that he seems to have written of late, but then again he seems to sell books, and the books that he did write early on pretty much set him up to the point where he could pretty much write what he wanted to, so I guess more power to him. Anyway, while I do not know what the experience of share housing is in England (and I understand that there is a lot of it there), the feel of this book is that it is distinctly Australian, and having been in a number of sharehouses myself I can seriously relate to what he is describing here (though I must admit he has probably embellished the stories somewhat, but then again why let the truth get in the way of a good yarn?).
I guess I should do what others have done when commenting on this book, and that is talk about some of my sharehousing experiences, and I must admit that I have had a lot. The average time that I have spent in a sharehouse is usually about six months, though there have been a couple where I have lasted about two years (though one of them had a somewhat itinerant population) and the shortest would probably have been about two weeks. Okay, I guess one may need to define the idea of a sharehouse as being one where you are sharing with more than one other person, though sometimes the actually definition of a person living in a house can be rather dubious. One house we had was originally intended for two of us, but as soon as my housemate picked up a girl (he always had to have a girlfriend) she immediately moved in, and then another guy decided to camp in the lounge, and within two days he had brought another friend around as well. Mind you, this particular house lasted two weeks before the police kicked in the door and arrested the lot of us.
Then there were the Findon Flats, a collection of about two hundred flats were while there were only two of us living in the flat, the entire place was like one community: there were always people coming and going. Mind you one of my friends was a small time drug dealer, so that is probably why there were always people coming and going. One of the cool things about living there was that people would come in, hang for about half-an-hour, smoke some weed, and then leave. However, the problem with living with drug dealers is that once somebody hooks onto you as a drug dealer they suddenly become frequent visitors. Oh, and the fact that your flat also becomes a target for thieves seems to outweigh the benefit of getting free drugs.
I also lived in what is pretty much termed as a party house. It was a large, two story, six bedroom house in one of the wealthier parts of Adelaide with a pool and a spa. The problem with the spa was that it always broke down. However, we actually had ten people squeezed into that house at one time, which made using the rather small kitchen an absolute pain. However that house brings back lots of memories, including the parties (which wouldn't be a party unless the cops rocked up at least once, and usually multiple times). I still remember the time that my mate and I decided to cook some pasta using dope butter, and suddenly having the sensation of being stoned hit us so hard that we were literally flat on our back for hours.
That house came to an end because the landlord simply could not get anybody into the house, and I was too much of a stoner (read lazy and paranoid) to actually attempt to get others to move into the place. We did finish my time in that house with the mother all all parties which only came to an end when my friend almost killed himself by flaking out on a concrete step. That friendship circle also came to an end pretty quickly also since the mother of all hangovers literally turned us all against each other.
Hey, I'm still sharehousing, this time in Melbourne, and I do desire to try to keep the tradition of it by not staying in the house for too long. Okay, now that I am 700 km away from my parents, I do not have the luxury of running back to their house when things go wrong, and moving can be a pain. At least I have learnt from my mistakes and can at least prepare myself to consider moving on before things get too bad. However, the problem is that I have found a good church within walking distance, though nothing is ever that permanent, and since Paul the Apostle never really set his roots down anywhere for too long, I don't think I need to either.