Rental Opportunity of the Week: A Flat Made of Cupboards

Some people are tasteless, and that’s fine – but not in this case.
A studio flat in Lewisham
Photo: Gumtree
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? What if a bedroom was made up entirely of cupboards? You just imagined: This bedroom made up entirely of cupboards.

Where is it? In the really Lewisham-my part of Lewisham.

What is there to do locally? Lewisham is one of many places in London that I only personally know because I accidentally got a bus going in the wrong direction once and that’s where it ended up, just me at a grey-and-glass concrete bus interchange staring at Google Maps and not really being able to take a vibe-check on the surrounding area because of all of the lanes of traffic I seem to be in the middle of, not really knowing what surrounds me and what is beyond, but just knowing, fundamentally, that this area has a deeply ominous branch of CeX. The point is I do not know what there is to do in Lewisham other than wait 18 minutes for a P4 while texting my five-a-side team that I probably won’t be there until deep into the second half, not that any of them would especially care – 


Oh no, why not? Because I’m incredibly bad at football.

How bad? I can’t run, I can’t shoot, I rarely make the right decision for what side to push a tackle to, I can’t particularly read the game and I don’t think particularly quickly while pulsing with the adrenaline of it, so I can make slow and fine-enough five-yard passes and that’s about it. Also, despite being 6’ 4”, I can’t head the ball so when strangers play in a football team with me they go “I’ll just smash a cross at that big lad’s head, a very normal thing to do in football”, and instead watch baffled as I attempt to chest the ball down (and no, I can’t particularly chest the ball either). Then, as the ball drops to my feet, I become immediately panicked with the enormity of being in control of the locus point of the entire game and so slice at the shot and more often than not fall over while watching it trundle over the line for a goal-kick or, in some circumstances, a throw-in.

How’s your first touch? Not good mate.

So why were you playing football in a five-a-side team somewhere between Forest Hill and Lewisham? Because that’s what you do, don’t you, when you’re 22 and new to the city: You join a five-a-side team with a load of lads called Tom who all “work in accounts”, and you get this endless e-mail chain about it all week leading up to the big Tuesday night – “Going to have to miss it this week lads – something’s come up” just pinging in your inbox, ping ping ping ping ping – and then when you do turn up, it’s just you and six men you have absolutely nothing to say to while trying to change out of your work trousers and into your shorts without showing your dick in what is technically a school playground – 


And how do you do that? You either hide behind an outbuilding or go round the court to a sort of bush thing, but with all the floodlights being on everyone can actually see you in the bushes while you try and change there, so almost the entirety of the 19:15 kick-off sees the fact that your Calvin Klein boxers are now so old that the once-white waistband has now turned a very depressing grey.

How many goals did you score over the course of this embarrassing two-year period of your life? Three, including a baffling two in one game. Even John O’Shea Scored That Chip Against Arsenal.

Is there something fundamentally embarrassing about being a man who constantly strives at the fraught edges of masculinity being incredibly un-athletic and shit at football despite a childhood spent playing football, like it is quite baffling that you made it to adulthood without even having a good touch or, at worst, a decent cross; like, does it not embarrass you to show yourself up in front of other men like that? Ha – what? No.

I think I would be embarrassed to be so shit at football when so much of my personality is tied to football – watching it, reading about it, playing video games based on the fundamental data of it— I really don’t see what that has to do with any of this…


I think what I am getting at is: are you, truly, A Man — Ask how much the flat costs.

Alright, how much are they asking? £740 a month.

Some people don’t have taste, and that’s fine. Well, technically, I should rephrase that: some people have very different taste, as in they have so little taste that it is a negligible amount of taste that we can round it down to zero – they have taste, it’s just so bad and uninspiring that it’s easier to say that what they have is neutral.

You know how every year a tabloid newspaper runs a story that is essentially, “This 26-Year-Old Man Only Eats Chicken Nuggets And Ketchup For Every Meal!”, that sort of thing? The quotes are always like, “I’ve never even had an egg!” They always have a strangely lithe, fatless body for someone who only exists on junk foods; red patches of skin around the nose and cheeks. Those sort of stories, you know the ones.

Well listen: Those chicken nugget guys technically have taste – a very specific, honed, narrow taste, but a taste nonetheless – but we may as well say that if you’re an adult incapable of eating spinach, you don’t actually have taste. I am once again going off topic to go two-footed in on chicken nugget guys.

The point is: Landlords have taste, but it is so little taste that it is negligible. Did you see where I was coming from yet? God it took a fucking while, didn’t it. But this is the decorative equivalent of having an adult tantrum in Zizzi’s because you don’t like pasta:

A studio flat in Lewisham with a single bed.

Photo: Gumtree

Wardrobe made out of the most knotted wood available on the market today: yes. Limp green singular curtain that I know already smells like other people sleeping: yes. Single bed on a grey steel frame: yes. That grey-brown laminate wood-effect that has such a powerful pattern on it that it somehow intrudes into the rest of the room, like how is fake wood giving off such an unfuckwithable aura? Yes. Single unshaded bulb hanging high and tight next to the ceiling: yes.

Is it painted beige and white? Yes. Is there a single radiator rammed up directly against the (again, single) bed? Yes. From the listing: “Single room fully furnished and decorated to a high standard in neutral colours” — high standard? This is your “high standard”? From the listing: “All mod cons with private kitchenette, laminate flooring and ensuite fully tiled shower room” — all mod cons? The kitchen is in a cupboard!

This single room – I am assuming every room in the house has been soullessly converted to include a boxed-off en-suite and a cupboard kitchen to turn those rooms into further “flats” – is made of cupboards. The kitchen is a special cupboard with a sink, a hob, a fridge and a microwave in it, but also it is a cupboard. The bathroom is just another cupboard: A corner of the room has been built out in a very ugly and ungainly way to accommodate a toilet and a weirdly high shower.

A kitchenette in a cupboard

Photo: Gumtree

These aren’t even good cupboards: The kitchen cupboard has a gap at the bottom that the fridge sticks out of. The bathroom cupboard has a gap at the top that is essentially functionally useless – I suppose you could maybe store a suitcase full of your winter coats up there? Maybe? – all for no reason at all.


And I do mean no reason at all: I lived in a flat where I had what was essentially this bedroom, minus the kitchen cupboard and the Frankensteinian en-suite, and it was an absolutely fine room to live in. The decision that a human being with the kind of money to invest in London property has made to instead slice a good third of the room’s functional space out of it to make a horrible kitchenette and bathroom in it to extract what – a hundred? A hundred extra pounds of rent a month? – is just proof that this city is built on the whims of the most braindead people in history. I’m convinced landlords are so tasteless that they can’t smell gas. 

The worst part of all this, of course, is the floor plan, which is so embarrassing I am surprised they’ve even bothered to include it: To make the room more appealing, they’ve listed the square footage in feet, instead of the more traditional but less flattering metres. A living area of 121.62 sq ft sounds quite good, doesn’t it? Quite spacious. But that’s 11.29 sq m, which is not.

A floorplan of a studio flat

Photo: Gumtree

Look at me: It’s the last sunny Friday of the year and I’m here getting mad about square footage. Look what these cities monster have done to me, with their knotted wood and their single beds rammed up against a radiator and their shower-in-a-cupboard-in-a-perfectly-usable-room, and their kitchens and the coat hook they’ve put up ever-so-slightly-wonky (yes! I noticed that!), and their single green curtain and their complete lack of aesthetic taste or human-centred decision-making.

I could be out there having fun! I could be out practising my touch right now, to embarrass myself slightly less in front of my fellow man next time a stray ball flies towards me in a park. And instead I am here, calculating square footage. Take me out back and shoot me in the head, please. I’m begging you. Give me release from this hell and entry to the next.