MON + JEFF + WOODY
CLIFTON HILL

Editorial assistance by Madeleine Dore.

One of the most heart-warming aspects of capturing share houses is discovering how the people residing within them often begin to resemble something like a family. There may not be a white picket fence surrounding the Victorian cottage that has become home to Mon, Jeff and Woody, but their affection for one another sure makes it feel like there is. Rumoured to once house circus performers, it is now occupied by the creative, musical, and conversational trio who mill about the beautiful wooden pine kitchen. From the endless discovery of hidden treasures, to surviving a handful of iterations of the plague, this is a share house with endearing character. 

WHO LIVES HERE?

Mon: I’ve lived in all the major cosmopolitan cities of the world – Melbourne, Frankston, Paris. You can often catch me dancing to Robyn in our living room over a Negroni with Woody. 

Jeff: I’m Jeff. I’ve lived in Melbourne for about three years now and before that Perth. Prior to that I grew up in India. I’m an illustrator by trade and love it to bits. I’m frequently busy with some kind of project but always find time for a robust morning coffee and a well put together omelette.

Woody: Nickname is Woody. Name from my parents is Caitlin. Will generally answer to an assortment of things though. I work for a social enterprise called PROJECT ROCKIT. Every day I work in schools having real talk in tackling bullying, hate and prejudice. Negroni’s + Mon + living room dancing + singing + Jeff watching and laughing = happiness.

DOES THE HOUSE HAVE A NAME? 

Jeff: Chateaux Berry? Berry Street Household? We don’t really have a name for the house, but we collectively refer to ourselves as ‘The Berries’. 
 

HOW DID YOU EACH COME TO LIVE HERE? 

Jeff: I found the Berry Street place from an incredibly well written and hilarious ad on Gumtree. I knew that whoever was behind this was sure to be a good egg (an important factor for a successful share house formula!). I got in there pretty early, teed up an interview, it went pretty well and I was an approved member of the Berry Household by the end of the week. Apparently there was a guy before me who brought along a bottle of wine to the interview! The nerve! 

Mon: I came across the house on Gumtree and was captured by the same wit as Jeff. At the same time I was arranging to check out the place, the other guy decided to move out and poor Al (our previous housemate and author of winning advertisement) was now left with two empty rooms. He assured me that it was an unlucky sequence of events and no reflection on him – he went on to provide his mum as a reference check. 

Woody: Mon and I went to high school together – it all happened pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was living in one of the Berry Street rooms. 

DO YOU HAVE ANY ACTIVITIES OR RITUALS THAT YOU LIKE TO DO TOGETHER? 

Jeff: We do trivia together often, and our social groups have started to enjoy a fair amount of overlap. 

Mon: We’ve also been known to enjoy throwing together a dinner party or two – from homemade pizzas to handmade dumplings. 

Woody: Dinner parties. Amen. I am keen to create Poker Nights in the summer. Food is a big part of our coming together. It’s that classic thing when you live with someone – you can go for days without seeing them but if someone is cooking a big feast we all swarm home. I love it. 
 

HOW DO YOU ORGANISE THE CLEANING AND COOKING?

Jeff: Our routines are quite varied so it’s quite rare that we are all eating meals at the same time. We’re all pretty tidy so chores are usually quite minimal and taken care of without too much fuss. Right guys? “Look I cleaned the bathroom, do you even care?”
 

TELL US ABOUT THE BEST PARTY YOU'VE HAD AT THIS HOUSE

Jeff: It was before Woody moved in but she was at this party too so I suppose it counts. I forget why we had this party but it had a nautical theme and it erupted about two weeks into my stay at the Berry Street place. It was the brainchild of ex-berry Al and we’ve never had another party that has been quite as loud, furious and just plain insane. A bed was broken, people were breakdancing, spilling wine, mopping up the wine with their breakdancing moves. Chaos. I remember at one point a very convincing Captain Hook unreeled the garden hose and was hauling it into the house...

IF THE HOUSE WERE A PERSON, WHAT WOULD THEY BE LIKE?

Woody: I absolutely see the 1920-40s playing out here big time. I do feel it is a ‘she’ – there is a certain elegance and poise that isn’t to be messed with. She is strong in character for sure. Think feather boas, seductive smiles, cheeky laughs and strong opinions. 
 

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT LIVING IN A SHARE HOUSE?

Jeff: Living in a share house means you are frequently surrounded by new faces, different music, tastes and ideas. I think it’s absolutely fantastic. 

Another thing about the Berry house, in particular, is that it has been a share house for years so it has a lot of accumulated history and other little secrets. It’s the house that keeps on giving. For example, we have found stilts in the shed; multiple vegetables and herbs growing in the garden that no one knows who planted; if you need a random audio cable or electric adapter, you’re liable to find it somewhere in a closet (if you can be bothered looking). We also dragged out a massive haul of toiletries like shampoos, moisturisers, hair products, soaps etc. in our vanity. Sorted for months!

Woody: I love the comings and goings, making new friends, learning about people who you live with and their views on the world. It challenges you. It enlightens you. It grounds you. 

CAN YOU SHARE ANY PET PEEVES, OR WHAT MIGHT DRIVE YOU A LITTLE NUTS ABOUT SHARING A HOME? 

Jeff: I assure you I am not being diplomatic nor stating this out of fear for my wellbeing, but I actually have zero peeves with the Berries. Mon and Woody are two of the loveliest people you could have living with you. Mon you should talk about the great PLAGUE in this one…

Mon: Ah, the Berry Street Plague of 2014. It began a few days after I had moved in and on the very day Al and I were conducting housemate interviews. I was having my breakfast when our housemate’s girlfriend sat down with me, evidently with something on her mind. She cautiously asked me if I’d noticed anything weird since moving in. I hadn’t. She then thrust her leg onto the kitchen table showing me a map of tiny, red dots on her legs. Yup, the outgoing tenant had left us with a parting gift of fleas. It was full-blown chemical warfare to rid the house of its unwanted guests before anyone moved in. In this instance we decided that ignorance was bliss and Jeff was none the wiser until months later when the next plague hit and we revealed the truth. Two families of rats and possums thought our roof would be a nice place to take refuge for the Winter. It turned out they were not so keen on the house sharing situation and turf wars were our next problem. At some point in the mix was a fly infestation in our bathroom. The main thing is we all survived, together.

 

WHAT IS YOUR FONDEST MEMORY OF LIVING IN THE HOUSE SO FAR? 

Woody: Sitting in the lounge room, all three of us, doing our own tasks and life admin, with the record player on or Jeff dabbling on the piano.


Have a look at Jeff's illustration work at jeffthepeff.com. I could seriously get lost in his website for hours! 

Woody works for PROJECT ROCKIT, Australia's youth-driven movement against bullying.