It started well: clean tiles; gleaming hob; smooth surfaces. Now the kitchen is a disarray of toast crumbs and shame. The end of a year in my first student house and the kitchen is where I wear my blinkers to avoid the horrors of the microwave plate and the mystery of the washing up bowl – no one knows what lurks at the bottom.

We all said we’d be the students who kept a clean house, unlike the tenants of the houses we viewed. We sneered at their crusty underpants flopping out of the washing machine and their veritable towers of crockery teetering over the sink. But here we are, and the bin hasn’t been emptied in days.

Nothing makes you retch in the morning like pulling slices of slimy onion from the plughole; nothing brightens your day like that pan of questionable grey matter that has sat unanswered for by the sink for a week. And for the record, a dishwasher is not the answer to all of your problems, unless you’re comfortable with the brown splatters of God knows what on the surrounding kitchen wall and floor.

Besides to write hilariously witty messages on the fridge with our letter magnets, I avoid spending much time in the kitchen. Many areas are out of bounds; the George Foreman grill for example. Once a luxury commodity, it is now coated with a white sheen of solidified fat.

To set things straight, none of us are dirty. We just think studying is more important than wiping down worktops. We try our best to do our own washing up, but sometimes when running late to a lecture or making a drunken cheese toastie, you just don’t have the time. And when four-day-old tuna juice leaks onto your slippers as you empty the bin, you vow not to bother in future.

Now we swear next year will be different; resolutions of hygiene and cleanliness are pledged. We dream of a kitchen without tea bag stains by the sink, with cutlery in the right compartments and a greatly reduced risk of salmonella. Roll on September.

Stephanie Harris

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