What is it? Well, listen: do you like sleeping in a bed? You do. OK, hmm. Alright, well: do you like opening the oven door? Oh, you do. Right. Auh: I’m going to be honest with you, right, because I like you guys, yeah? You’re not really going to like this one.
Where is it? Tooting, which London estate agents have been promising for close to a decade now is ‘actually a really up-and-coming area of London!’, even though everyone who has ever been to Tooting has a story that somehow mentions the following sentence verbatim: “... yeah it’s divided into two completely separate areas both fucking called Tooting for some reason and then we ended up in the roughest pub I have ever, ever, ever, ever actually been in, and a guy was eyeballing Patrick for so long and with such extended ‘pool player ferocity’ that we didn’t even finish up our Carlings before we decided to leave.” Listen: I don’t love Tooting.
I think it is in Tooting’s favour that it remains steadfastly Tooting. It is unshakeably Tootingesque. So many areas in London have become Stoke Newingtoned, or Stratfordised, or Hackney Wicked, or Balhamated: greywashed with new builds, all the interesting old hoary misshapen parts erased, and the ‘Oh did you see they might be opening a Franco Manca? Yeah, well, exactly, no good takeaways deliver to this postcode, so that’s a relief’ put back in. So, Tooting: no it isn’t good, exactly, in any particular sense of the word. But this city’s modern idea of ‘good’ is so bloodless anyway that no area can possibly be converted from ‘bad’ into ‘actually good’ now, because ‘actually good’ doesn’t exist, because the tastemakers and the money-havers have no idea what ‘good’ even looks like (the modern idea of good: a £40-a-month gym on the bottom floor of a new-build, a pedestrianised street that only leads to a cupcake shop and a cinema, never more than 100 metres from a Boxpark). So, like: listen, don’t invite me to Tooting! I am never, ever coming! But a part of me is very happy that Tooting is still shit. It means it is still alive.
What is there to do locally? Oh, still nothing.
Alright, how much are they asking? £700 PCM.
There are themes to my work, and it takes close-reading over a number of years to ever really get them, and realistically a lot of those themes won’t be truly discovered until my (tragic, untimely) death and the conversion of all of my articles from the ether of the internet onto the GCSE syllabus, but a fairly major one is: bit by bit, function by function, London landlords are eradicating certain pieces of usability from a property that our snowflake generation grew up taking for granted, and every time they get rid of one they are empowered to work on another.
So for example: do you really need a whole separate room for your bed? No, you don’t, do you. You’re being fancy when you say that. That is one example. Another: does your bed, actually, need to be a bed? Could it not just be a hovering shelf up over your living room? That sort of thing. Do you really need somewhere to store your clothes, or could you – yeah I was just thinking that, maybe keep them all crushed up in a suitcase or something, yeah. And four burners on an oven, do you really – two is more than enough. Two is more than enough. Thanks for getting it.
So that said, we are now at the point where: you can either comfortably have a bed in this property, or you can open your oven. You cannot do both.
Let’s focus on the bed, first: the bed (the bed is that grey dead sad looking thing in the middle of the room) is there, a single bed; and it sort of has to be there, because of the window. Because if you turn the bed into any other configuration other than that, then you have to move the wardrobe round, see? And then the wardrobe can only go in front of the window. So, if you are insisting on having a bed – and I know you guys consider that a non-negotiable, yeah – so, if you are insisting on having a bed then it has to go there. That’s the bed.
The wardrobe – yep, it has a wardrobe! Yep, very proud of that feature – the wardrobe is shoved up very firmly against the bed, yeah. That also sort of has to stay there, because of the entire kitchen area – if you move the wardrobe you block off a lot of the kitchen – and also because it’s a stooped ceiling and so: yeah exactly, you guys get it. The wardrobe has to loom there, and it has to be sideways, because otherwise there’s no way of opening the doors to it, so, yes, you do need to tiptoe round the narrow gap between the bed and the kitchen every time you want to get dressed.
The window? Yeah, just a very small square thing that only opens upside down. You are in the very crevice of the roof, by the looks of things, so that is something to consider. Is a window a–? Another non-negotiable, OK. I really have to be honest with you guys: we might have to manage your expectations with the budget that you’re on. Lights are very good these days? Lights and lightbulbs? And if you want natural light you could always just step outside. So yeah something to consider, because this place – with the windowing it does have – it is going to be in demand, yeah. We’ve had a lot of calls about this one already. Also – and we love this! It’s so quirky – the window does not have a blind or a curtain of any sort. Yeah we just thought: why not have a flat that’s really easy to look in? Exactly, exactly, yeah!
So over to the kitchen and obviously we’ve got all your kitchen things: microwave, fridge you have to climb over your bed to get to, oven. Slight problem with the oven, if you are an oven user: it does open directly out into the bed, eek. But you could just get round that by never opening it? Or, if there’s two of you home, just pop the bed to one side on an angle while you get in and out of it! So obviously there are a lot of creative solutions on offer. It doesn’t have to be a problem unless you let it be.
There are of course six cupboards in the kitchen, so maybe you could use one or two of them for your clothes, if keeping clothes in your house is something of interest? I know one of you mentioned having and owning clothes. Oh, you both—? OK. Could maybe keep some in the oven? Something to consider. That way you could just about slide the oven door down and get some socks out, which keeps things very quick in the morning.
The bathroom’s just your usual grim and quite sinister rental bathroom: no source of natural light at all, oddly low toilet for some fucking reason, cheapest sink they had in the showroom – yeah, if you do look closely the sink is technically too small for two taps to be on it – and, yeah, just your usual extremely threatening un-openable thin wooden door down there at the bottom. And the landlord has said that if you do try and peek at what’s behind it, he will know and he will be angry. Yeah, yep, exactly, all of that and it’s still in Tooting.
(From the advert: “Would suit single adult or couple”. Just wondering how that would work. How this space would work, for a couple. How two people – a couple! – would live here. How that would even work, for one second. Just mulling that over.)
If you are reading this in 2022, you can stop now. You’re gone, you’re out. You die with me. If you’re reading this in 2072, as part of your GCSEs (or whatever they are calling them by then: ‘Space Levels’), just know that in our times, this was still considered bad. Not by anyone, like, in charge. They love this shit. Councils: love this shit. They think this counts as housing and is brilliant. The government – who view anyone that has converted a tiny sliver of attic into a kitchen with a bed in it as ‘a good and original entrepreneur’ – also thinks this is amazing. Corporations and businesses and anything that can be considered faceless and glassy and grey but still capable of making ghoulish decisions that impact and ruin the lives of actual people are considered good back here in 2022, possibly great. This year, the year I am alive in and typing from, was probably the last real chance to reverse all this. Maybe some action could have been taken, back here, to stop this. But then that could be said about a lot of things: the planet’s scorching temperatures, for instance. Wealth equality as it is generationally impacted by energy prices. Some of that shit. Do you still have a middle class wherever you are? You’ll know them because they live in tasteless turf-ringed mansions they think they worked hard for and they really care about the Strictly Come Dancing affairs for some reason. Well, kill them. It won’t fix anything but it will make you feel better. This was the main theme to my work all along. Slaughter the middle classes. Set their Audis on fire and watch them burn.