September 5th 1996
I am now the proud new tenant of the Coburn Street Residence. Right round the corner from The New Ely, 5 minutes from The Taf and approximately 1 minute from the counter in the corner shop which is handy for those Coronation Street advert chocolate runs. My fellow housemates are Ruth, downstairs front room; Alan and Kim, upstairs front room and Harry middle upstairs room. I have the tiny back room but all outside walls so, even though I will be slowly freezing to death come January, I will be able to play my music as loudly as I want. Who needs heat when you have beat?
I knew Alan through Harry and Ruth’s maths course and he has been like an older, slightly more sensible brother to us all the final term of Uni. At the last minute he decided to take on a teacher training course so has ended up rooming with us. His girlfriend Kim works at The Harvester and has promised us loads of freebie left overs. This almost makes up for her insistence to rota everything. My jobs are washing up Tuesdays and Thursdays and bins out every Monday. (the rebel in me is already digging my heels in but, I will try my best). I’m not sure if we can be classed as Young Professionals but I have my call centre job, Harry works for a clothing depot in town and Ruth has yet to move in with us properly as she has met a man over the summer whom she is reluctant to leave. Fair play to her.
I love my new home and am stupidly excited by another year in Cardiff, still in the thick of the fun, but actually earning money. This has been week one of my answering the phone training and I am basically being paid to sit in a chair and daydream. There are twenty of us in a classroom, with a flipchart and Sally The Trainer (who went to school with Cerys Matthews don’t you know?). Having been in that environment for 4 days I have come to the conclusion that no one else in that room is taking this job seriously either. We are a motley crew that include a cute but cocky bloke from The Valleys, a handful of other lost soul graduates, a girl who looks like Boy George, a middle-aged man who used to work for ‘The Beeb’ and a lady with a five o’clock shadow. A bizarre cross section of society united by daily timesheets and coffee machines that offer a soup option. Our days involve drinking Lucozade to eliminate our hangovers, giggling while Sally The Trainer tries to balance her rather large behind on the corner of a poor young man’s desk and, basically, trying to get away with as many fag breaks as we can throughout the day. The smoking room is a lift ride away and gives ample opportunity for time wasting. Entering the frosted glass door is like setting foot into a 70’s sitcom set. Everything is brown and nicotine stained, the stench of cancer grabs you by throat. Two minutes in that room of death is 20 years off our lives. But, we still do it as it is the perfect skive and it really pisses off all the non-smokers.
Day four into the grown up world and I am surviving.