I came across this photograph while doing a fairly major tidy up the other day and it brought me back to my single days in Dublin when I lived in a ‘bedsit.’ Bedsits, for those who don’t know about them (as they are now outlawed in Ireland), were self-contained rooms for rent in houses that might have up to seven or eight such units.
This was my poshest bedsit. It was in a lovely leafy part of Dublin, right at the top of a three-storey house and looked out on what was a very well kept back garden which had lots of cherry trees which were a joy in Spring.
The room was small, about 15ft x 10ft, and housed a tiny bathroom, a little kitchenette, and bedroom cum sitting-room cum study.
The table by the window was where I typed my PhD thesis on that Brother typewriter, which seemed very modern in the 1980s. There was also a set of wooden book shelves that sagged from the weight of all the books and papers I stacked on them.
The room was heated by the sun in summer and by an electricity-eating fake fire in Winter. When I was short of money for the electricity meter, I’d fill a hot water bottle and use that to keep me warm as I typed away in the cold weather.
We were a close knit gang in the house; though everyone liked their privacy. Many’s the night we spent drinking coffee and chatting in each other’s rooms ’til all hours and, of course, we shared the old black button A and button B phone in the hall just inside the front door.
I don’t think I’m being overly nostalgic when I say I was very happy living in this little space. It was mine; I felt safe; I loved my independence; and I will never, ever forget the joy that the cherry blossoms brought.
It’s hard to understand fully why bedsits have been made illegal. I know there were some terrible places; I viewed quite a number of them. But, I somehow think than many, many single people could be happy like I was in that little room without the worry of exorbitant rents and the stress of trying to find accommodation at this time of such short supply.
Have you had experience of ‘bedsit’ living? How was it for you?