Read He Died With A Felafel In His Hand by John Birmingham Online


These are the memoirs of 29 year old John Birmingham, who has shared houses and apartments with 89 people and kept notes on all of them....

Title : He Died With A Felafel In His Hand
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781875989218
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 214 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

He Died With A Felafel In His Hand Reviews

  • Scott
    2019-01-02 16:28

    I once lived with a man who covered the entire wall of our shared (four people) bathroom with hard-core Dutch pornography. I asked him to take it down and he claimed it couldn’t be removed as it was ‘Art’. We had a yelling match that went for thirty minutes.If you’ve ever shared a home with someone, (a roommate in the US, known as a housemate here in Australia) you most likely have a horror story like this (I hope yours is less gross). If you’ve argued over dishes, gotten annoyed at your roomie’s parties, messy girlfriend/boyfriend or inability to make rent on time you will find something you recognize in He Died with a Falafel in his Hand.Do not read this book if you have a weak stomach, if you despair at the depths of squalor that human beings can sink to, if stories of passive aggressive post-it note battles and weed-smoking lassitude get you down. Do read it however if you like to laugh out loud, and want to go on a journey through what student, unemployed and renting life in Australia was like in the 1990s.Birmingham takes his readers on a hilarious journey through the many, many homes he shared and the many, many weird and outrageous people he lived with, culminating in the housemate who inspired the book’s name, who did indeed die, and was found with a falafel (also called kebab in some jurisdictions) in his hand.Don’t know how a bucket bong works? Birmingham will show you, with diagrams. Wonder what it would be like to have someone living in a closet in your home or in a tent in the lounge? Birmingham has done it, and you get to enjoy the chaos from a distance. Ever left your dirty dishes for so long that you’ve had to drag them out onto the lawn and hose them down? You guessed it, Birmingham has, and he shows it in all its grotty glory.This book is a genuine Australian classic. In the 90s and early 000s John Birmingham was Australia’s answer to Hunter S. Thompson, writing scathing, biting Antipodean Gonzo with real humor (his obituary of the corrupt hillbilly dictator of Queensland, Joh Bjelke-Peterson is the rawest, fiercest example of the form I have ever read). He Died with a Falafel in his Hand is hilarious and appalling in equal measure, and should be given to anyone thinking of leaving their parent’s house in favor of shared housing, in order to ready them for the horrors they about to experience.(One word of warning- there are a lot of Australianisms to be found here, and a slang app would be useful. I read this book in New Zealand and thought the often referenced backyard ‘Hills Hoists’ in the book were devices for removing car engines, leaving me with an image of Aussies as a people unreasonably obsessed with car maintenance. It was only three years later when I migrated that I learned that a Hills Hoist is a clothesline, and that Aussies are quite reasonably obsessed with drying their wet clothes.)A Hills Hoist clothesline.

  • Joe
    2018-12-24 18:28

    great paragraph: We all smoked way too much. If you took all the shit we smoked in just one year and rolled it into one big joint, it would be so much bigger than the biggest joint you have ever seen that you would need to smoke two really big joints just to deal with the concept of its incredible bigness.

  • Ailsa
    2019-01-06 12:27

    Apart from Scientologists and born-again Christians, junkies are probably the worst people in the world to live with. Even other junkies will tell you that.Everyone seems to be telling their Sydney houseshare horror story so here's mine:Young, innocent and off-the-plane from Perth, my boyfriend and I move into our first room off King st. The house is an decrepit 3 bedroom terrace (no living room) with a disgusting bathroom (the plastic in the bath is warped and stripped away). In our first week there someone stole the yellow bin out back. Who steals a rubbish bin?Anyway, it's about 11pm, our housemate opens our door and we're all "????...what's up mate?" He doesn't respond. Instead he turns around, leans against our doorway and pisses into the hall and on our floor, then trudges through it to our other housemate's room and falls asleep in his bed. Our other housemate and his girlfriend return. They find it hysterically funny. ("You've pissed on the floor Brett*, don't you think that's a bit odd?" "That doesn't sound like me.") We were a bit traumatised at that point to laugh. On the plus-side he bought us a box of favourites the next day as a "sorry-for-pissing-in-your-room" gift. All in all, just a regular Tuesday night for John Birmingham.This book is great. One man's tale of living in the cheapest possible lodging in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne during the 90's. Very funny and quintessentially Australian. Verandahs and fibro walls abound. Birmingham can turn a phrase, especially when describing some of the 89 characters he's come across in his 10 years.Lead singer of band The Black Dogs named Lizard Man, "The Lizard Man was a six-foot-two love machine who oozed really creepy sex - he had this thing about being naked, couldn't wait to get his gear off and run his hands up and down his body" who John haplessly lets crash at his parents' house, "My parents and I did speak to each other again. Eventually. After about two years. But we never mention the Lizard Man."Paul the quiet journalist, "Paul was completely unremarkable, except for an ability to drink beer and play snooker for three and half days without sleep."Student Melissa, " We didn't know about the smack when we took her in, didn't actually figure it out until long after she'd left and we had to clean out her room. At first we thought all the bent spoons came from too many tubs of frozen Homer Hudson, but the 1mL syringes with the bright orange caps sealed the deal."No Sydney house saga is ever complete without the cockroaches,"The cockroaches lived behind the hot water system in the kitchen. you'd switch the light out, get the Glen 20 and wait. When you could hear them you'd flick on the light, hold a cigarette lighter up to the spray can and flame the roaches off the wall. It was a lot easier than actually spraying, which didn't really work anyway."

  • Kevin Klehr
    2018-12-25 15:50

    I read this many years ago when John Birmingham wrote it while still writing articles for the Rolling Stone (I think).It's the embellished account of thirteen share households he actually lived in across major Australian cities during the 1980s. Very funny. It's easy to relate to as you recognise the personality types that you may have met or lived with back in the day.There was a movie version made of this, but I don't recommend the film. There is no real plot in the book, which makes it a fascinating collection of anecdotes. In the movie they developed a plot, which for me, weakens the charm of the original novel.Yes I know movies should have plots, but I think you could have got away with not having one for this story. The first share house in the movie (which is closer to the plot) works like a charm. After that, not so intriguing.

  • David Sarkies
    2018-12-24 14:43

    Sharehousing in Australia13 December 2012 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.

  • Little Miss Esoteric
    2019-01-16 15:40

    'He Died With A Felafel In His Hand' is hilarious, and so spot on. As an art school student, I lived and slept in various group houses in Queensland. They were fun years, although a bit hazy. I'm sure I know some of the people in this book, and a great many of the cockroaches...

  • Steve
    2018-12-27 19:50

    This book is hilarious, laugh out loud funny. I used to read this while on my way to work on the tram and got some very strange looks from my fellow passengers because of my laughter. It's ok, they probably just thought I was one of those mental cases. John Birmingham has lived with such people, and here he tells us about them. We have stories about housemates who come home drunk and piss in the fridge, housemates who get into screaming arguments over which cupboard shelf the can of pineapple chunks should go on, and housemates who never really move in, but actually steal all of your things in the night and disappear. If you've done the share house thing, as I did for years, you will love this. If you haven't done it, first of all, get a life, go back to your parent's country club, and read this anyway. You should still find it funny.

  • Mark Farley
    2019-01-16 14:27

    I've been in the fortunate position for most of my life not to have dealt with anything like the flat/housemate problems and eccentricities in 'He Died with a Falafel in His Hand', having always lived with some sort of female partner since my very early 20s. That was until a year ago, when I moved back to Brighton, on the south coast of England and moved into a shared flat (sight unseen, as I had moved the length of the country specially) with well, I shan't name her. Let's just call her 'miserable catholic lesbian troll', or OK, to make this easier, I will refer to her as A. Now A and I pretty much got off on the wrong foot straight away, when I arrived at the flat with the landlord. I was in the process of bringing in my suitcases (while he watched me struggle) and even before I had taken my coat off, she appeared from her room and announced that I was my turn to contribute to the gas and electric keys and that I should do that straight away. Unpacked, I did just that and everything was ok at the beginning and she was pleasant enough going forward from there but gradually I could tell that there was something wrong with the dynamic of the building and specifically between her and the other two guys living there. Immediately, she made it very well apparent that she disapproved of them both and began to tell tales on them, before I had even met them myself. Then she one night, she told me of the previous tenants and how each of them had left after seemingly some sort of issue with her, including one guy who tried to poison her food. Great, I thought. She's one of them. Difficult and unforgiving. As far as I could tell, A had no friends. She didn't work. She never went out, apart from church on a Sunday and had no apparent visitors. Not that we could answer the door, if we had any visitors or mail to answer the door to, as the building had no doorbells to each flats, and sure enough the other two guys left one after the other. Her main problem with one guy was that the temperature and heating controls were in his room and he kept turning them off, while she insisted on having the heating on all the time, 24-7 and all at the same time complaining that we (not her) were using too much gas. She also insisted that the lights in the only communal parts of the flat, a hallway, a bathroom and kitchen were to be kept on all the time. Even in the middle of the day when it was bright and sunny.Pretty much, she made this atmosphere of tension so bad, even when she had other room mates move in. It didn't matter who it was, she would find fault with them and do tiny little annoying things to wind you up as much as she could, in order to cause conflict. As I had pre-empted this quite early on, I did my best to avoid A as much as possible, but even I became housemate non grata. Of the contributions which were kept on a list in the hallway, she added another list highlighting the amounts we had contributed over most of the year and of course hers was the most, but she included what she had paid, for six months before I had even moved in. When I highlighted this and that I had paid as much as her over the amount of time that we had lived together, she went ballistic. I made it clear that I didn't care what she thought, which probably made things worse, but she had no right to inflate her position. Then things started to go missing from the kitchen. One day, all the teaspoons went, then a couple of flat metal trays I bought to put things in the oven on, then all the knives went. Which may sound petty and silly, but its hard to butter toast with a fork. Try it. Then the toaster vanished one day. The kettle the next. Each time, I tried my hardest to let everything slide because I knew she was doing her very best to get a reaction. I was starting to feel sympathy for the guy who tried to poison her. A couple of us asked her about the toaster and the kettle and even though they are on the inventory as part of the furnishings, she insisted they were hers and said that she would rather have them in her room. It was spiteful. She made the mistake of taking a small porcelain cereal bowl that a new housemate had brought with him. She just thought, 'oh, my candles would look nice in that' and when said housemate couldn't find it, he flipped out. We had already talked about the fact A was doing all this to create conflict and make everyone leave like everyone else before us and that essentially, I thought, she wouldn't be happy unless she had the whole place to herself. When she was confronted about Bowlgate, she completely denied taking it. When the housemate disappeared, she finally admitted to me that she had taken it and when I said that she should return it, she said that she had gotten rid of it instead, in order to stop all the arguments. Because that was the best thing to do. Anyway, Bowlgate died down things went quiet for a while, when the bowl owner met someone and stayed round her place for the majority of the time. One night, I came across A in the kitchen and she seemed a little spaced out. She was either drunk or high, I couldn't say and proceeded (uninvited) to tell me a very lengthy story about how she was drugged, kidnapped and raped by a very famous couple. When I pried for essential details and queried the many holes in her story, she had none and just wanted to have some listen to her babble on, a lot of it incoherent bullshit. The next morning, she looked a bit worse for wear and I asked her if she was ok. She then went into tears about her ipad and that she couldn't afford to get the bus into town to fix it. I had a look at it and it looked like it had died. I said, walk into town with me, I'm going but she wouldn't, what with her being lazy and fat. To be fair, its a good two hour walk but I don't care. She cried further and I ended up giving her money for a bus travelcard, reminding her that I was doing this out of the goodness of my heart after she hadn't been very nice to me or anyone else generally. Anyway, things went quiet for a few weeks until I heard a 2am knocking on my door, I ignored it and heard the door to A's room slam. Early the next morning, I heard her shout HACKER SCUM from the kitchen. I was watching Eastenders through my headphones as one of the other guys was working nights and had gone to bed (not that this bothered A), so I ignored it. Twenty minutes later, there was more shouting and I went to see what the commotion was, she ran back to her room when she saw me and slammed the door. I knocked and asked she was ok and the door flew open and she got right in my face, accusing me of hacking into her tablet from my computer (like I knew how to do that) and that I was scum and that she was after me. I tried to placate her but she just kept on. I told her that in no uncertain terms that she was batshit crazy and that she can fuck off. Now I would love to have a happy ending to this story/experience but I don't. Because I'm still here and that was only last week. Ideally, I would be elsewhere but for the moment I am tied in and stuck financially. But hey, she's been a bit quiet the last few days. We shall see.

  • Rachel Eldred
    2019-01-10 15:24

    I vaguely remember watching the 2001 film ‘He Died With A Felafel In His Hand’, starring Noah Taylor. I say ‘vaguely’ because I was probably stoned at the time, my brain compromised in the memory department. I do remember, however, that it was strange. But, then, I like ‘strange’.The book is less strange; more nostalgic. It made me laugh, but it also horrified me. I spent part of my 20s lost in the world of share accommodation, and it wasn’t pretty. Most of it was spent under the influence of drink or drugs, in houses in Sydney that should have been condemned. I remember I would make pacts with the cockroaches. They could roam my room as much as they wanted, but land on my bed and they were dead. They were also goners if they made any noise; the slightest rustle of a plastic bag and STOMP! Also if they flew. Sydney’s flying cockroaches have haunted me since I was a kid, when I would have to venture to the backyard toilet at my dad’s place in Sydney’s inner west in the middle of the night. I can still hear the crackle of creepy crepe wings as they flew at me. ‘He Died With A Felafel In His Hand’ was a fun, light read that took me back to the not so fun, light days of brown couches (yes, I owned one), milk crates (I had several) and bucket bongs. Bucket bongs were a thing in Queensland, Birmingham writes. They were also a thing in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, where my brother had one set up in his room, day and night, after our mum ran away from home with her lesbian lover. And then there were ‘bulbs’. After a girlfriend’s father introduced us to them at 16, we went to Kmart and bought our own cream dispenser, nitrous oxide bulbs and balloons. We had hours of fun until my girlfriend’s stepfather walked in on us one day, after he heard the sound of the cream dispenser as it went off and filled up a balloon, over and over again.“What are you two bloody up ta?” We couldn’t respond, but he cottoned on pretty quick, grabbed the bulb paraphernalia and threw it in the bin. That was the end of that. Probably a good thing, in hindsight.I related when Birmingham wrote: “Always be wary of phrases like, ‘My house is your house. Feel comfortable … Just treat it like your home.” I fell for it once, and before I knew it my housemate had a psychotic meltdown because I’d laughed at a scene on ‘The Simpsons’. Apparently you were not to laugh when he fought with his girlfriend. It was insensitive. I related less to the fish fingers. My cheap meal of choice back in the day was pasta with a sauce made of canned kidney beans and tomatoes, grated cheddar cheese sprinkled on top. It’s the only meal I ever made, because, you know, I loved animals and was vegetarian. Birmingham took me on a journey back to my lost youth. It was some trip. * PS My kids aren’t gonna get away with half as much – I hope!

  • Cărăşălu
    2019-01-08 20:41

    I had a lot of fun reading this book, jumping from one mad share-house experience to another. It reminded me about dormitory life a little, but more insane. The diversity of characters is amazing, but most of them are episodic. This is what makes the book so easy to read: a lot of short stories, happenings, anecdotes, one after another, one crazy flatmate followed by an even crazier one, no space for pauses of normality. At times, I even felt a little envious of the author.Anyway, it's not as good a book as many I've rated with the same 4 stars, but it made laugh and I mean really laugh, not smile, and that's why I'll be generous with my rating. P.S. You'll also get to know why bucket bongs are popular in Perth and Brisbane, but not in Sydney or Melbourne.

  • Brenda
    2019-01-09 20:31

    I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this book at all. It was loaned to me by my son, he loved it, also his wife. And the many others who have reviewed it positively. But it's just not my sort of story!

  • Dot
    2018-12-22 17:28

    Yuk. Disgusting stories of random bogans behaving badly. I couldn't force myself to finish this book (which rarely happens as I like to finish what I start).

  • Brad
    2019-01-03 17:37

    I first read this book 19 years ago, when I was batching my way through several share households with a large variety of flatmates. This book was a classic case of "I thought I had it bad... but then I saw what you got".Now re-reading this book as a married man with kids, I no longer relate to the lifestyle and it seems so foreign, and so long ago. We all grow up and this book brought back great memories of what life used to be, and reminds me how good I have it now.Enough reminiscing, this book documents the author's journey through innumerable shared houses with flat mates ranging from the sane to the bizarre. There certainly is some artistic license and stretching of truth, but an enjoyable window into sharing a house with basically a stranger.

  • Sarah Kingston
    2018-12-22 18:20

    Up until April this year, if you had asked me about John Birmingham, I would have made all sorts of enthusiastic noises, but I wouldn't have been able to say I'd read his most famous work - the work which made him 'The Felafel Guy'. I was familiar with him from having done a couple of very beneficial writing workshops with him, and reading a few of his columns and blog posts. But Felafel had passed me by, and I think this came along at exactly the right time.I picked this book up when I was extremely stressed out by work, finances, and general adult commitments, and I was about to commence several days of recuperation after having all 4 wisdom teeth out. This book helped teleport me back to my dissolute uni days (or rather, my uni days when I was tangentially close to dissolute uni students, while remaining diligent, clean and generally 'solute'). It took me back to backyard house parties in falling down Queenslanders, when the sink would be full of someone else's beers (which everyone would steal) and you'd end up spending at least half an hour sitting in an empty bathtub with three girls you'd only just met, giggling and dangling your legs out of the side until some idiot leaned over and turned on the cold tap. It took me back to getting silly drunk and bonding with a boy who had just launched himself face-first through the closed kitchen window, and yet had refused to be taken to hospital and resurfaced with a bloodstained bandage around his forehead. It took me back to wandering around West End in high summer, sweltering in Doc Martens and heavy black eyeliner because I wanted to keep up an image I'd barely established in the first place.It must be said, my experience of uni and sharehouse life was nowhere near as grungy, grimy or drug-fuelled as the experiences Birmingham describes in this book. But it does perfectly capture a moment in the life of every young person who grows up in Brisbane (or Sydney or Melbourne). That moment is a long summer afternoon sitting on someone else's verandah and drinking a beer, sweltering in the smoky wet heat. It is a moment immediately identifiable to anyone who has grown up in suburban Australia.It's also bloody laugh-out-loud hilarious. I read several excerpts out to anyone who was within a 5 metre radius, whether they wanted to hear it or not.

  • Mada
    2019-01-11 14:30

    Can't really decide what to think. I'm definitely grateful now for the wonderfully normal roommates I have and I've had and completely shocked at what specimens you can encounter, especially in some parts of the world.

  • Ms Tlaskal
    2019-01-03 17:25

    I finished 'Leviathon' in January and wanted to check out what else he had written. This is a chronicle of his life in a series of share houses, interspersed with vignettes by people he has lived with. For a clean freak (which I am not) it makes stomach-turning reading; the rats and roaches, the fish finger 'cuisine' and the procession of seemingly pleasant flatmates who become weird once they soak into the unique emotional broth that each house seemed to become. It makes gripping yet queasy reading .. and some of his observations such as 'crazy girls always have hats... a lot of hats and hatstands' make you think that no one is 'normal' once you live with them. It was made into a stage show too, played on the bar of pub in Glebe. You couldn't buy drinks while it was on. Apparently fabulous show.

  • Galindo
    2019-01-06 14:35

    A collection of anecdotes about sharing house in Australia. The title refers to the opening story of the narrrator finding his housemate on a bean bag "as cold as the felafel in his hand" from a heroin overdose. I laughed from cover to cover. It is uniquely Australian in its telling and humour. Having said that, I think any person would understand the experience and jocularity. There are also blurbs from former house mates scattered throughout the book dispensing their wisdom. One of these was a female who despised zealot Smiths fans as house mates. If you know or have dated a Smiths fan, you will understand this very well.

  • Cheryl Anne Gardner
    2019-01-16 14:31

    Very funny stuff. Birmingham knows how to turn a phrase.Anyone who has experience house sharing has a story or two to tell, but these are over the top frightening and hysterical. This is outsider stuff, or as the author aptly named them: The Fringe Dwellers. Sounds like a horror movie, and some of these people are the weirdest monsters you'll ever have the pleasure of not knowing. A fun and bizarre look at the edge of humanity.

  • Ellie
    2019-01-06 19:50

    Fairly amusing throughout.not a read before bed book - as in, I wasn't aware it was an amalgmation of annecdotes rather than a story.I read this before moving out to Uni - it kind of put me off the transition, but I needn't have worried, things ave moved on a bit since his day.Maybe a decent bathroom book to read whilst in the bath.

  • Lloyd Tandy
    2019-01-16 12:47

    Funniest book I've ever read. I can't read it in public because I laugh too loudly when I read it, and weird people out.

  • Maggie
    2019-01-01 16:35

    If you've ever had a crazy roommate, you'll probably find them in this book. It's hysterical. Great snippet reading, too.

  • Amylaurab
    2019-01-05 18:41

    Funny and recognise a lot of the situations from living in a lot of shared houses. However found the small boxes with little "case stories" in disruptive to reading the main text.

  • Panos Dionysopoulos
    2019-01-03 13:26

    This book espouses the dangers of vegetarianism and promotes healthy consumption of lamb.

  • Goldenwattle
    2018-12-20 17:45

    This book was amusing, but there were so many incidents that I began to doubt the truth of it. I too lived in shared houses for several years and although there were incidents, nothing on the scale of what happened in this book.I was trying to remember incidents that did happen. Definitely no drugs. But the first group house I lived in – a three bedroom house, but there were up to five people in it at times – would be the closest to those examples in this book. But still nowhere near as wild and no drugs. We were in it for eleven months and only ever held one party, but the police did turn up and tell us to quieten down. And not all the guests were invited, some just turned up. They had been out cruising looking for parties, as many did pre the internet. The only reason we managed to rent the house was because the previous tenants had been kicked out and left it a bit of a mess. (Now, they probably would have fitted into the book.) And one of our group was a policeman, although he was hardly ever there, always off on assignments. In retaliation for being evicted, the previous tenants cut water pipes, left a bag of dead rabbit hanging on the clotheslines and stuffed more whole rabbits down the drains. They left a car wreck in the front garden and bits of car and motorbike parts scattered throughout the garden. The house was furnished, but some of the furniture would collapse regularly. The stove hot plates only worked full on, the oven had to be propped shut with a broom and the fridge iced up so badly it had to be defrosted every second week (ideally it should have been done weekly). And a kitchen cupboard door fell on me. The old fashioned oil heater blew up in a couple of the tenants’ faces as they were attempting to light it, blackening them and the ceiling, because, oh, no, they didn’t need to listen to the serviceman’s instructions on how to light it. I was the only one who did, and therefore the only one who could light it without it blowing up in their face and blackening the ceiling.We had various personalities living in the house. One woman would bring home a different man almost every night, which would be a bit of a problem if she found someone else also sleeping in her room. I never did figure out if she got paid by her “guests”. Another stole from us and was caught wearing someone else’s underwear. She left after she became pregnant. Another I suspect was borderline manic depressive. She would go through periods of giving things away. (I still have a glass jug and matching glasses given to me.) Another had the worst PMT I have ever met. Say anything, no matter how harmless, and she would snap. This same person would borrow money and although she would pay it back the following pay day, she would not get the money from her bank account before that when the person who had loaned her the money said they were now short of cash. “I won’t get money from my bank account,” she’d say. So the person she owed money to would have to get money from their account instead, because they had leant her money so she wouldn’t have to get money from her account. She thought that was quite logical and fair and you were selfish to disagree. The woman with the lease in her name believed even in the dead of winter she should be able to walk around the house in a short sleeved t-shirt and the rest of us would share the excess heating bill so she could. And her bedroom window was partly open for fresh air on the coldest night. She would go out and leave a heater on in her room for hours so it would be warm when she got home. If it happened now I would turn it off, but I was younger then and shy. She also got upset if you changed a blown light bulb, because that deprived her of the thrilling opportunity of asking her boyfriend to do it. One amusing incident happened on one of the rare occasions the policeman tenant was home. He answered the door (not in uniform) with a beer can in his hands. It was one of the previous tenants come to pick up mail. He said to the policeman, “Whatever you do, don’t tell the cops I was here.” It was all I could do not to roll on the floor laughing. The police would regularly call looking for the previous tenants.I shared another house for several years (okay, I was the owner of this one), and this one was fairly tame (no doubt because I was the owner). One tenant I suspect might have been schizophrenic. At times she would not use her name, saying she was only an X. She also kept all her shed hair in a bag in her bedroom which I found creepy, and hardly bathed so that she stunk something awful. For years after she left, her bedroom retained an odour. One tenant only stayed two weeks because she was on the run from an ex-boyfriend who owned about a dozen guns. I accompanied her to the police and she moved out to my relief. Another who only stayed two weeks suffered from epilepsy. What was scary about her was that she had a car licence and drove. I saw her have an attack and it’s scary just thinking about her behind the wheel of a car. Others stayed for years in the house, so I must have been a reasonable landlady. One lady suffered obsessive compulsive disorder. She would foot stomp her way to the bathroom each morning, waking the house, then stomp in the bath. Wouldn’t / couldn’t stop after complaints. She would clean up around us as we cooked. On at least one occasion I came home to the other tenant in tears after being upset by her behaviour. But our house was always very clean while she lived there.Like John Birmingham, I too kept (brief) notes about the other tenants in my diary. I also kept brief notes on the people in other houses in my street. Two households sold heroin, another house was used for storing stolen goods, a local thief lived in another (the son of one of the heroin dealers from one of the previous mentioned houses was like his apprentice), another house contained a paedophile (very sad, his daughter, who he assaulted, was later murdered by her boyfriend). The heroin houses were raided after a chief inspector/superintendent? in the drug squad moved in with my female neighbour and saw the comings and goings. They had a surveillance camera set up and all. A taxi driver was caught too, bringing regular customers. The house holding stolen goods was raided twice, always in the middle of the night. Very dramatic, they would floodlight the house. And if I understood correctly the Maltese lady across the road (never have been able to speak Maltese), a murderer once lived in my house. Maybe that explains the ghost one of my tenants swore haunted us.My street is more gentrified now and I haven’t made notes for years, so my present neighbours can rest easy.I wonder if any of my fellow tenants wrote notes about me?

  • Brad
    2018-12-16 18:37

    Having spent 5 years at university myself, I am familiar with sharing a household with random people who have habits that the average person would not believe. But JB beats me hands down on this score. I borrowed this book off a flatmate back in the 90s and thought it was the best book I had read. Then many moons later I saw the film, and the stage play, and neither lived up to my memory of the book. Maybe my memory is at fault?This book is on the to read again list...

  • Bibliofreak
    2018-12-23 20:42

    Funny funny book. Responsible for pushing me into an asthma attack because i was laughing too hard. Not sure how translatable it is to non australians, but for me it was hilarious and very accurate particularly about the problems with broke-ass-share-house-living.

  • Yanacka
    2019-01-07 17:36

    One of the most ridiculous books I've read. No plot whatsoever, bunch of names and cities tied together with one drug or another. Yes, I get it, flatmates can be weird, but the stories weren't even funny, just plain and horrible. Or better yet - plain horrible.

  • Peter
    2019-01-12 15:25

    An amusing collection of tales from sharehousing. Really funny inparts.

  • Loulose
    2019-01-12 16:45

    Den var ganske morsom, men jeg sliter veldig med å tro på alle historiene i boka. Jeg har vel ikke bodd nok i kollektiv.

  • Lennox Nicholson
    2019-01-14 18:32

    Classic. Felt like he had a camera over my shoulder in all the share houses I'd had the pleasure to call home over the years.

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