ED2016 Columns ED2016 Comedy

Maddy Anholt: Three weeks later…

By | Published on Saturday 30 July 2016


Maddy Anholt was last seen round here chatting about her previous show ‘Diary Of A Dating Addict’. This time the ‘dating addict’ is ‘rent girl’, as she returns with a show exploring the challenges of finding a home in the age of unreasonable rents and sky high property prices.
Might the solution to that problem be found in a date? Probably not. Maddy tells her story of life as a member of Generation Rent.

Sometimes in life the planets align, you walk into a coffee shop and lock eyes, you get that warm, fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach and you know… you just know, you have found the one… whose massive house you’re going to move into.

That’s how it happened for me, anyway. I met James back in 2010 when I was 22. Waist-deep in Generation Rent, I’d just about scraped the money together for a deposit and I was living in a tiny box room in South West London with rising damp and a psychotic house-mate. Sounds like a dream, huh?

James and I started seeing each other on and off and it was fine. No fireworks, no angels singing, no Stephen Fry reading sonnets. Fine. James worked in the City and wasn’t as foolish as I was, trying to make it as a creative in London. He was a bit older than me and had bought a flat when the recession hit and house prices fell.

The first time he took me to his place, I couldn’t hide my awe when I saw he had this massive – I mean gigantic, I mean hold-it-in-two-hands… peppermill – AND a sheepskin rug AND a garlic crusher. Like a proper adult with proper household items. All I had was Poundland tupperware, my Aunt’s colander from the 1970s and a Marilyn Monroe coaster I nicked from a bar.

It wasn’t long before I subtly started moving into James’ place. It started with a toothbrush – the best love stories do. Following that it was my dressing gown, then a towel and then a six foot wardrobe.

Back at my rented place in South West London the rising damp on my wall had now morphed into the shape of The Americas and was spreading wildly and the absent landlord hadn’t fixed our washing machine in a month. I was paying £800 PCM for Hell.

When I came home early from a festival to find my house-mate having a threesome in my bed (hers was taken with another man), enough was enough. I packed up my belongings and arrived on James’s doorstep at 4am, still caked in festival mud. What a catch.

James and I had only been seeing each other for three weeks when I moved in. The first couple of weeks were wonderful, I had my own cupboards – plural. No one would steal my food and I wouldn’t find a random man’s boxer shorts jammed down the sofa. I made full use of the gigantic pepper mill, the garlic crusher and the sheepskin rug. Heaven.

But I couldn’t shift this uneasy feeling – we were putting up with each other because I couldn’t afford anywhere else. I began to annoy him and he annoyed me. But I had no choice.

A new survey from housing charity Shelter found that in the past year, seven per cent – 3.6 million people – were divorced or separated from their partners but still lived together under the same roof because they couldn’t afford anywhere else… 3.6 million, that’s the entire population of Manchester and the entire population of Leeds COMBINED.

It’s funny, isn’t it? When you move in with someone you find out all their habits – what they like to eat, what they watch on TV, how they sleep. I like to sleep on my back, my ex-house-mate, she slept on her side and James, well, James slept with the cleaner whilst I was at work. So that was that. Back to sofa-surfing whilst I got on my feet again.

This is the plight of Generation Rent, we clutch at straws… or bricks, all desperate to find somewhere affordable we can call home. What’s the answer? Do we implore our local authorities not to sell land off to property developers because at the moment regeneration means gentrification, which is bad news for us all?

Do we stick together with good friends and try and make a home, do we wish on a prayer we won’t end up with a man-eating housemate? I can tell you one thing for sure, a giant peppermill doesn’t beat your own happiness and independence.

Maddy Anholt performed ‘Rent Girl’ at Gilded Balloon Teviot at Edinburgh Festival 2016.

LINKS: www.maddyanholt.com | twitter.com/maddy_anholt