House Hunting

I wonder what it was like in the Stone Age? Did the Stone Age people go around from cave to cave, admiring the structural integrity and checking for damp patches? Did they get out their tape measure and test whether their wolfskin rugs and piles of straw would fit?

As you might have guessed, I am currently house hunting. I am also room hunting, which is subtly different but similarly stressful.

House hunting involves trawling the internet for adverts of houses or flats that won’t require me to sell my internal organs in order to meet the rent, but also will not explode or cause me to freeze to death. Unfortunately the overlap between “not a hovel” and “not astronomically expensive” is not large.

Room hunting involves complex email negotiations with the five other music students or choral scholars in college about who wants which room. One person has taken herself out of the running by deciding to stay in her non-piano room, which leaves five people to choose between seven rooms. Sounds perfectly straightforwards, right?

Well, not exactly. A has to live on the ground floor because she plays a very large instrument. B wants to live in a particular building. C doesn’t mind where she lives as long as it isn’t one of two rooms. Three people all like the same room.

I’m reasonably happy to go anywhere as long as it has a sink and is near a reasonable kitchen, which means I’ve got a choice of about three rooms. Not surprisingly, there are at least two other people after those rooms.

It’s made more complicated by the fact that technically, the way this is meant to work is that we pick our rooms in ballot order – the second years choose first in order of rank, then the first years choose in their rank order (randomly assigned by the tutorial office). I’m fairly high up the second year ballot, so in theory I could just choose the room I want and damn the rest. But since I might well turn round in two months and say “actually I don’t need that room any more, I’ve got a flat”, I don’t want to deprive anyone of the room they want. Also, there are five of us and seven rooms. This shouldn’t be impossible. We’ve got until midday on Wednesday to sort it out, and then cross our fingers that no one goes back on their word.

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