Comment Writer Lily Haugh smiles through the pain of living in accommodation ignored by the university’s plethora of renovations

Written by Lily Haugh
Images by Lily Haugh

If Mason were a hotel, Maple Bank would be a hostel.

You may have heard the saying often applied to Maple Bank: ‘Blitz together’; minus the warplanes overhead, it is not short of the truth. Through power cuts and boiler breakdowns, the community only gets stronger.

Stick together, survive.

Hygiene is certainly up there with toast

For a mere £87 a week, I never expected five-star service – far from it. But neither did I expect, on first opening my room door for an (albeit minor) part of it to fall away: I’ll probably be charged for that, dammit. I also did not expect two consecutive power cuts, bizarrely each time we put down the toaster. Our concerns were immediately roused, toast being quite the student staple.

Less than 12 hours after electricity was once again flowing through the furred arteries of Maple, the hot water stopped. A state of emergency was again declared in my flat, as we SOS’d reception for the ability to shower. Hygiene is certainly up there with toast. Fortunately, before being nauseated by our own body odours, the boiler chose to resume its boiling.

But, here I am wallowing in self-pity, when, two floors below, a resident found himself unwittingly locked in his room. The monotone-voiced receptionist on the phone, who had likely responded to a similar call moments before, did not provide much reassurance for his flatmates. Despite this, I am pleased to report that the victim of the over-effective lock was released with all sanity intact.

Admittedly, being situated by the canal does have its picturesque moments – I myself cannot complain of the top floor view. However, the horror of damp consuming a friend’s ground level room induces slight worry. Cold, clammy walls and squelchy carpets, anyone?

Never mind, really. We only have to live here

But I must inject a note of optimism.

Here goes: the kitchen, so far, functions. Even if on a basic level, we take what we can get. That note was sweet, but sadly short. Back to unrelenting pessimism. Because I have to ask, why do Elgar Court, majorly meal-planners, have two-stoves and spacious culinary areas to pour their cereal in the morning, whilst us Maple Bankians, majorly self-catered, are huddled around one stove in a three-person max kitchen? Whose rationality, or irrationality, was this?

Undoubtedly, the facilities could be better. While millions are invested into the construction of sparkling new campus facilities, Maple Bank appears to have fallen into the abyss of site concerns.

Never mind, really. We only have to live here.

However, such conditions have only become a source of humour to its sufferers. This humour alone can empower us at times of trouble. Ahead, lies the unknown. At night, we toss and turn, haunted. Which shower will be our last? Which slice of toast will cast us into darkness?

Questions that become nightmares. Nightmares that become reality.