My next roomy, Pedro, was not potty in the slightest, especially compared to the last two. He was an art student, loved football, and had even adopted Spurs as his preferred English team (okay, maybe that is a bit barmy).
His high level of English added to our male bonding. We could have a beer, hang out and talk about travelling and Spain, and we even had a couple of parties. Also, we could both sit in the lounge together, doing our own stuff, and not aggravate one another. Our humour was the same too. He understood sarcasm and irony and we could laugh about the same things and take the piss out of each other easily. Even my girlfriend thought he was a reasonable chap, probably because he never tried it on with her.
That’s why I was gutted when Pedro announced he was leaving. He had only been there two months and was starting to enter my list of top ten people I’d lived with around the world. He would probably have sneaked into the top five had he not gone home. You see Pedro, or Pete as he preferred to be called by his mates, was not actually Spanish, but from Norway.
Anyone moving in after Pete was going to have a hard time. Next was Sergio, a Sevillano born and bred. He was from one of those funny towns on the outskirts where people tend to walk about talking to themselves, or stand in their doorways smoking while waiting for something to happen. Sergio’s English was quite good, not as astounding as Sir Pete, but a lot better than my struggling Spanish.
When he told me he’d lived in England, I waited for the abuse.
“All English people are dirty, no?”
“Well, I guess tramps and farmers tend to be a bit dirty, but not everyone.”
“Yeah they were. I lived with students and they were disgusting. They never cleaned the bottom of the frying pan,” he said. We were stood in the kitchen by the sink. I peered over to my frying pan, drip drying on the rack, and noticed a thick layer of grime on the bottom.
“So you didn’t have a good time?” I said in a surprised tone. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard people slag off the mighty Blighty.
“Oh I had a great time, English girls are so much fun, and drunk, and easy.”
“Well, I guess compared to Spanish women they are a bit more adventurous,” I said, sticking up for my land.
“But the food, argh, I hated the food. That was the main reason I came back.”
“So you’re a proper little Mummy’s boy then, you silly wanker,” I thought to myself as I said “Really?” Needless to say Sergio and I were not meant to be together, forever.
While Saint Pedro was in the flat I had been writing in the lounge on a small table near the window, so I could look out now and then at some withering plants. It wasn’t much inspiration, but more refreshing than my box room, where the window opened onto one of those useless empty spaces between people’s flats. The ones where you can see the silhouette of your neighbours through the curtains as they put on deodorant, pick nose hairs in front of the mirror, and even pretend they are a matador, which was the case with mine. Anyway, Sergio seemed hell bent on getting me out of the lounge.
One Friday afternoon, as I was happily working on my book while listening to Jack Johnson, Sergy came in the lounge and whacked on some heavy metal, knowing full well that I was trying to concentrate. Stubbornly I battled through an afternoon with Def Leppard blasting in my ear as I grunted and cursed under my breath. The next Thursday I bought a crap wobbly table down Calle Feria, a street famous for its Thursday market, where locals try to sell all sorts of useless junk, normally nicked, and I set up base in my dingy claustrophobic room.
“Do you want some paella,” Sergio said one day, purposely pronouncing paella with one ‘l’. “All guiris like paella, no?”
“Most of them do, yes,” I said, trying to think of something funny to say, but the delicious smell was too much. I love paella, as most guiris do.
“Want some real food then?” he asked, smugly.
“Well, I was going to have a steak and kidney pie and mushy peas for lunch, but I guess I could make room,” I said, ignoring his smarmy comments. That was the best thing about Sergio, his cooking. He might have been a Mummy’s boy, but he’d learnt from the best.
The thing that really irritated me about Sergio was that he was up his own arse. He knew nothing about me and acted as if he was superior most of the time. Always asking me questions about Spain that he knew I wouldn’t know, or care about. He liked to give advice too, but there’s a way of giving advice, and a way of being a dickhead.
“Have you not thought of joining a gym then?” he said, one afternoon as I was doing some press-ups in the lounge before my run.
“Of course I have you dopey muppet, but I’m trying to save some cash,” I thought as I grunted “Si.”
“When are you going to get a new bike?” he asked another evening, as I came back from work with yet another puncture.
“Right after I wrap this wheel round your head,” I thought, while grunted “Mañana, mañana.”
For an ugly bloke, Sergio certainly had a way with women. He used to bring back a different girl every weekend, making plenty of noises in the process. He wasn’t shy about his sessions either.
“Did it on the sofa last night,” he said to me one morning, as I crunched into my toast. “Don’t worry, not there,” he said, pointing to where I was sitting.
“That’s nice,” I said. “Funny, I didn’t hear anything this time.”
“Yeah, we had the music on.”
He even tried to flirt with my girlfriend, and often asked her if she realised she was going out with a guiri. Thankfully she told him where to go.
So when Sergio announced he had landed a job teaching Spanish in the USA, I jumped for joy. While he was out I did the victory dance on his bed while wearing muddy shoes, and used his towel for cleaning the thick layer of blackness from my frying pan.
By now I was getting pretty burnt out of housemates. My girlfriend and I had been talking about moving in together for some time, so when my final housemate arrived it was a sure sign to make that plunge.
I can’t actually remember his name because I only saw him about four times, but I think I’ll refer to him as the Wolf. The first time I met the Wolf was a Saturday morning after I’d stayed round my girlfriend’s. It was in January, I remember well because it was cold, at least it was outside the flat.
As I opened the front door, a huge cloud of heat smacked me in face like an invisible fireball. At first I thought the flat was on fire (another hour or so and it probably would have been), but there was another reason for the drastic change in temperature. I shut the door, looked over towards the sofa, and frowned. Huddled up in a ball was a hairy Wolfman. It was easy to tell he was hairy because he was naked, apart from a pair of stained grey pants. I was surprised the thick layer of fur on his back hadn’t caught fire because my burnt out blue heater, which I’d bought down Calle Feria, was on full blast aiming straight at him.
A bunch of question ran through my mind as I considered whether or not to wake the Wolf.
“Why isn’t he in his bed?”, “Why is he only wearing pants?”, and “Will my back ever get that hairy?”
I was more worried about the sofa catching fire though, so I decided to shake the beast.
“Oi,” I said, startling him just after I turned off the smoking heater. “You can sleep in the bed, you know.”
“Huh?” he said, shocked as he looked up at me. His stinky smoky breath almost knocked me back.
“Tu cama esta alli,” I said, saying his bed was in there as I pointed to the back of the flat.
“Okay, okay” he said, stumbling towards his room, doubled over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The Wolf was a freak. I’m not just saying that, but he was a complete nutter. I tried to chat with him a couple of times but he just gave really short answers and refused to make eye contact. So when I came back one evening, all happy after signing a new contract to move in with my girlfriend, I was confident I’d made the right decision when I opened the door to see one of the Wolf’s drawings. It was of a psycho man with laser beams pouring out of his huge white eyes, with an illuminous green background.
“Nutter,” I muttered as I took a photo, “absolute nutter.”
Since then my housemates have been pretty good. I’ve only had two; my wife and son. They are decent companions, maybe a little too clean at times, but at least I don’t have to put up with any hairs on the mirror, patronising comments, or farts at lunch time, well, not too many anyway.
What about you? Have you had any nightmare housemates while living in Spain, or anywhere else?