Having moved into our new flat and dealt with the errant sewage, Helen and I faced a new problem – how to pay for it. Taking on a more expensive lease at the same time that I lost my job and she went back to university wasn’t exactly ideal, so we needed a plan.
A very simple plan, in fact. We would let out the spare room. Very fortunately, we found someone before the sewage incident, because letting a room which had recently been flooded with raw effluent may have been tricky, even though the cleanup job was magnificent.
We let the room to one of Helen’s university friends, Sarah. We chose Sarah because we had already spent a weekend away at her house in Somerset with her and we had all got along very well indeed.
Unfortunately, by the time that Sarah moved in with us, she had changed. I realised that something was up when she arrived and made it plain that she wasn’t really planning on socialising with us, was going to cook her own meals and wouldn’t be there most weekends. My only experience of sharing living space with people other than my own family came at university and even though the four of us ended up fighting like cats and dogs we still all ate together most of the time.
The problem was that Sarah had found herself a boyfriend since we had seen her and was completely smitten by him – hence our naming her ‘Soppy Sarah’. This was unfortunate, because Paul was one of those people who think that they know absolutely everything about everything and can’t possibly imagine that someone else might know better than him. And because Sarah was so utterly besotted with him, she parroted everything that he said to her straight at us. Which meant that she became just as big a pain in the backside as he was.
Things came to a head after about four months. Paul, through Sarah, suggested that Sarah should only pay one sixth of the utility bills, as she was only there about half of the time. We pointed out that she had agreed to pay one third of the bills when she moved in and that the only reason she wasn’t paying was because she was going home to him every weekend. We didn’t mind this, as it meant we could have people to stay at the weekend, but she did have to accept that her desire to carry out a long distance love affair couldn’t be financed by us.
This led to a massive fall-out. Sarah moved out shortly afterwards and, in the end, we had to sue her to get any of her share of the bills from her.
Despite all of this, I do hope that she split up from Paul and found herself someone decent. She was quite a nice person before he came onto the scene.