"I'm Lloyd and we're gonna watch the movie Cocoon. It's about a group of older people who go to outer space. I've never actually seen it but I hear it's pretty good."
A mournful voice in the background quavered, "Why can't I eat popcorn anymore?"
Mum, Maria and I were watching Say Anything. I'd spent the day in the garden after a rather heroic attempt at mowing the lawn, while Maria made snakes from old pairs of tights for her drama production and danced around to Jamie T.
Diana and Lloyd are in his car. Lloyd has his fingers on her neck, in her hair. She tells him she loves him. She sketches the word 'love' with her fingertips.
"Why would she do that?" Maria wailed. "She is so mean!"
"Her dad made her choose," Mum said, leaning against a chair in some inexplicable leg exercise. "That's what I'm going to make you girls do," she grinned. "Choose Mama."
* * *
We had spent the previous week and a half moving into my new house with the help of Maria (my sister) and our friend Lloyd. True to form, most things went wrong, but also true to form, it made it all a damn sight more interesting.
I had practically skipped through the botanical gardens to the estate agents to pick up the keys, my wheeled suitcase swinging around behind me, occasionally turning over like a flicked ladybird, while Lloyd and Maria followed grumpily carrying a kitchen's worth of utensils, duvets and bags of shoes.
The house was chilly, but light and exciting and all ours for nine days.
I left Maria and Lloyd to cook dinner whilst I went back to my flat to collect the rest of my belongings. I was trying unsuccessfully to stuff seven towels into a Tesco carrier bag when Lloyd rang me.
"Uh, we have a problem," he said. "The oven door just fell off so we can't bake anything."
I groaned inwardly. "Just fry everything for now or stick it in the microwave," I said. "See how we go."
I arrived back at the house clutching Lloyd's basketball, my Arctic Monkeys poster and a large box full of smaller boxes to find all the fire alarms in the house wailing and Maria and Lloyd jumping around the house jabbing spatulas at the ceiling.
"The extractor fan doesn't work so if you fry anything it sets the alarms off," Maria explained after the alarms had stopped screaming blue murder.
I tried to look on the positive side. "At least we know they work."
After a (finally) cooked meal that involved sticking the frying pans out of the windows every three minutes, we decided a shower, movie then bed was due.
Ten minutes later, we discovered there was no hot water.
"Why won't the boiler come on?" I cried.
"I just want a shower and chocolate and Sex and the City!" Maria whined.
Lloyd didn't say anything. He was listening to Ben Howard with his earphones on so loudly they made my teeth buzz. I think he was trying to pretend he was on a sunny beach where the food was baked and the water was always toasty. I didn't blame him.
So at half past midnight, we packed a couple of bags and walked the two miles back to my flat, stopping in the drizzle only to listen to Maria make hooting noises with her cupped hands, until Harvey and his fellow owls got thoroughly excited about the new female on the scene.
"I'm sorry about your house," Lloyd said, leaning up on his elbows to give me a hug from his air mattress. "I'm sure it will be fine in the end."
"Thanks," I said gratefully. "I hope so." And I resigned myself to an uncomfortable night sharing a single bed with my vocally nocturnal sister.
The next day, I was feeling hopeful. The walk back to the house in the daylight revealed I was living in a neighbourhood resembling a bohemian, vibrant, northern Notting Hill. Someone was actually playing Marvin Gaye on my street.
Halfway through the afternoon, a tabby cat wandered into my living room as though he owned the place. We spent the rest of the afternoon feeding him bacon rinds and wondering vaguely what would explode next.
We found out after an inkling for hot chocolate that it was the microwave.
* * *
Thursday night we escaped to Patrick's house. It was so new and shiny that the curtains smelt one step away from a Beijing cotton field.
Patrick's housemates were reluctant to come out clubbing with us.
"Come on Chloe!" Patrick entreated. He was on the phone to his housemate who was upstairs, their nine bed house being so large that the five minute walk to her bedroom simply wasn't worth the effort.
"Ten minutes ago you were rocking up those stairs singing Kim Kardashian's 'Jam'. What the hell happened?"
Our night out was gloriously drama and explosion free. We danced to the confusingly catchy-but-sexist 'Blurred Lines' and Patrick tried to explain to me what a 'Cheeky Vimto' was. I'm still not quite sure.
The following days were gloriously hot and wonderful. We indulged in some river hiking, plenty of ice cream and discovered how to work the washing machine. I even weeded the garden with some rubber gloves and a pair of sewing scissors whilst the neighbour's huskies watched me through the bedroom window. No one can ever say students aren't resourceful.
My parents came to pick us up on Saturday morning. We were still in bed.
"Smell that?" Dad said to Mum as soon as they walked in. "Smells like students."
I was offended. "It does not!" I said defensively. "It just smells of Lloyd's Hugo Boss, fried sausages and Febreze."
"Exactly," said Dad. "Smells like students."
We went for brunch in a little French bistro and I took a moment to pretend I was in Paris, ignoring the kids sticking gum under the school railings and a drunken man staggering into the local Co-op.
If it had been an adventure moving in, I can't wait to find out what is in store for Emilie, Maria and I living here.
Something involving exploding appliances, wine and a lot of gossip no doubt.
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more