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Agony Agatha

19 August 2015

I have to move out of home and find a share house – what are your tips for finding a flatmate?

If there’s one thing that’s sure to end in murder, it’s a fractious share house arrangement. The transition from living with family (and all the biologically pre-programmed love that comes with it), to living with ‘ordinary people’ can be a huge leap. You don’t have 18 years worth of intel on all these peoples’ annoying quirks; even worse, you don’t have 18 years worth of intel on their redeeming charms.

Simply jamming yourself in with a group of complete strangers is a recipe for disaster. In Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, 10 strangers are invited to a remote island under a myriad of pretexts. When it’s revealed that each guest is responsible for someone’s death, and that a justice-obsessed serial killer, Mr Unknown, wants to start picking them off one by one, the island turns into a pressure cooker for drama. And that’s exactly what most shared accommodation is: a murderous, dramatic pressure cooker.

What largely drives the drama in And Then There Were None is the guests’ constant sense of mistrust. When they begin to theorise that, in fact, one of them may be Mr Unknown, it’s growing suspicion that ultimately seals their fate: each person is so mistrustful of the others, that they wilfully break themselves off from the group and become sitting ducks for the killer to attack. There’s safety in numbers, sure – but only if you can trust those numbers. In And Then There Were None, the guests who survived the longest were those who found allies and formed tight-knit bonds, which provided a buttress of sanctuary against the dangerous world around them.

So, ideally, I’d advise that you live with a friend. At least one. Even if you live in a share mansion that’s been built on a coastal island with nine other flatmates, I’d recommend having at least one of them be a friend. If this is your first share house, you’re gonna want someone you can cry with. Trust me.

But ‘ideally’ doesn’t pay the bills, does it? With the economy as it is, it’s hard to pick and choose – you’re limited by availability and cost. In all likelihood, you’ll wind up with a stranger. They may be a murderer, or they may not. My advice? Try and be their friend.

Trouble in paradise? Need love advice? Email Alistair <alistairb@student.unimelb.edu.au>


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