Continuing both the studenty and lavatorial themes of last week’s post, at university I briefly shared a flat with the chap who complained about being ‘tied to the toilet’.
It was the cheapest, dingiest, mouldiest basement flat in the western world. There was no central heating and in winter it was so cold that I slept in two jumpers, a dressing-gown and a woolly hat, and even at times resorted to laying towels on top of my sheets, duvets and blankets. There was a shower built in to an alcove under the stairs and the toilet was in a scarcely-converted back porch and therefore so preposterously cold that the innumerable slugs inhabiting it were probably stiff with ice (for all I know).
On the ground floor, above us, lived a man in late middle-age. He was hearing-impaired, though he spoke clearly and was not so deaf that he didn’t once complain that our music was shaking his floorboards (at that time we were heavily into Abbey Road, the second half of which I still regard as the high point of popular music, and for a few weeks we played it every night at terrible volume.) Our upstairs neighbour was a decent enough chap but alternately friendly (issuing indefinite, dateless invitations to come up and share a bottle of red, though he’d need advance warning so he could allow the wine ‘to breathe’) and sullen (which meant that we never felt inclined to accept these invitations).
I suspected he was lonely and going a bit mad. One day I was in the loo and I heard sounds from above of our neighbour in his loo. Gradually it became clear that he was talking aloud to himself while going about his business.
"Oh God, he's talking aloud to himself now," I said, aloud to myself.