Written by Harriet Dyer


The Life Palavers of Harriet Dyer: Living quandaries

Harriet Dyer was a human catastrophe: drugs, drink and institutions. She’s back on her feet and has some life lessons to share so people don’t make the same mistakes she did. This week she’s pondering where to lay her hat.

Illustration by Louise Boulter

I always used to live in house shares but would crave to be a lone wolf.

In 2013 I moved cities and stupidly handed in my notice before I’d found somewhere to live (tip: don’t do that) so as time walked on by, I had to just take root quick smart.

At the 11th hour, I found a house share with a couple which was only a 10-minute walk from Manchester city centre. It seemed ideal.

I can’t physically comprehend why a couple would live together when they are clearly so miserable with each other. Especially when they have no kids together and they’re still so young. Surely life’s too short. Hit the road Jack! (Neither of them were called Jack.)

The general vibe with these two reminded me of when my parents were splitting up; always a walking-on-eggshells-type atmosphere. Sometimes I’d even try to breathe quieter so they couldn’t hear I was in.

He was a football hooligan (my boy flatmate, not my dad) and was banned from the city centre whenever there was a home match on. He talked about Manchester United like he knew all the players personally and would only ever drink out of a Manchester United glass or mug. During the low points I contemplated taking a dump in his favourite one.

It was one of those poisonous relationships; I never saw any joy in it. He wasn’t the brightest biscuit in the tin, but she’d talk to him like dirt. He’d be having a harmless jest with her and she’d snarl: “Shut the dickens up or I won’t pay your phone bill.” (I preferred ‘dickens’ to the word she actually used in that particular exchange.)

Why do something for someone if you’re only going to throw it back in their face?

They used to physically fight too. When I was away one week he punched a hole in the wall. I must admit he did a brilliant job of filling it back in, but he also did a wee in my bed, so swings and roundabouts.

One day I went into the kitchen and the girl had a very sad face. They’d gone into town on the day his city centre ban had been lifted, and to celebrate, he’d dumped her in the middle of the street to go to the football. It seemed like he’d only been with her while his options were limited. She was gutted.

They argued in the street (classy) then she took his keys off him.

Every day I’ll make a completely adamant decision about where to live in the country and who to live with, and it’ll be completely contradictory to the adamant decision I made the day before.

I felt bad for her, so when she said she was going to be on a course in Swindon for a few days and could I make sure he didn’t get into the flat, I agreed.

To cut a long story short, he turned up coked off his tree and was a nightmare. Eventually, after ringing his mother (who I’d never met before), a pal and I managed to get rid of him. His mother said she was worried he’d be violent with me. Cripes. You’ve got to be worried if someone’s mother thinks they’re a proper douche.

The moment girl flatmate returned from her course she got back with him; I was disappointed. I don’t mind being brought into your nonsense if you genuinely want help but don’t bring me in and then ignore all common sense.

I moved out a couple of days after that; they were confused as to why.

I then lived De La Soul style (me, myself and I). People often feel a bit sad for folk who live by themselves; I think this is very silly – I find it quite liberating. Obviously it has its lonely days (and it may have been slightly concerning when I made myself cry because I’d shouted at myself in a different voice too loud), but sometimes one can even feel lonely in a full room of people.

Then my wondrous mother passed away and now I’m in a right old pickle and don’t know whether I’m coming or going. It’s mad how life can flip turn so drastically. Every day I’ll make a completely adamant decision about where to live in the country and who to live with, and it’ll be completely contradictory to the adamant decision I made the day before.

It’s natural to only want to be with family at times like this but my remaining family live in Cornwall, which is completely undoable if I want to continue a career in comedy – they might as well live in Honolulu. Ooh, Honolulu. I wonder what the rent’s like there?

When I was at university I lived with a few Greek girls and when everyone went home for holidays, they’d get there long before me – ringing me up from the beach, glass of Ouzo in hand, checking I’d got home safe, and I’d be like: “I’ve only made it to blooming Exeter!”

Even though I feel like a loser doing so, I’m currently staying with friends as I’ve gone from loving my own company to not being able to bear being alone. I’m very lucky to have great friends; it makes me sad to think that some people that go through stuff don’t have anyone.

That said, I’d opt for no one over a dunderhead football hooligan any day of the week.

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Written by Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer is an eccentric and full of life palavers human being that originally hails from the land of Cornwall.