What is it? I have a coffee cup on my desk from yesterday. Normally I wake up around 8AM and put a fairly large pot of coffee on to sustain me throughout the morning (the coffee pot is insulated: it retains heat without making the brew go chalky). This is all irrelevant. But the point is I’ll have my final coffee of the day at somewhere around 2PM.
Where is it? So the coffee cup, on my desk, gets used and re-used over the course of the day: I’ll pour the first coffee between 8 and 9AM; the second, depending on my workload, around 10. My girlfriend is also drinking from the same pot, so I try to get in there before the entire coffee stock is depleted, because that bitch can chug. So this is my day, and was my day yesterday. Then I left the coffee cup on my desk because I went out and had wine and tapas and beer beneath the steaming hot sun and now my forehead is striped red and I threw up by the side of my bed.
What is there to do locally? This is, also, irrelevant.
Alright, how much are they asking? I suppose the thing is: I got up this morning, and looked at the coffee cup on my desk, and was repulsed by it. Why is this? It is an empty coffee cup, the same as it was at 10AM yesterday, when I was filling it with my second cup of juice. Functionally, the cup is the same. Dregs-wise, the cup has the same amount of nothing or almost nothing in it. But something tangible happened to it when left overnight: it was transformed from today’s coffee cup to yesterday’s coffee cup, and with that it took on an air of revulsion, to me.
Is there a point to this bit? Stick with it.
OK. I suppose the nearest analogue I can think of for this is toenails. Toenails, when they are on the end of your toes – when they are a live or semi-live extension of your body – are a fine enough, normal thing (if you’re a toe guy, please delete the email you are writing me about how toenails are not just “fine enough”, but are “actually deeply sensual”. I’ve tried for years to understand how someone can cum off a foot, and I am no closer to understanding. If you have figured it out, good for you, but there is no need for you to communicate with me). But something happens to a toenail in the snap-fraction of a second it takes for nail clippers to detach one perfect crescent from the end of them: the leftover nail, the clipping, becomes instantly vile. You see? You see this? There has been no significant change in form. But the status of the toenail has taken on a horror. It has become, instantly, not just garbage, but stomach-churning garbage.
It feels like maybe you’re just hungover from drinking too much wine then beer, (insane), in the hot, hot, hot hot heat of the gorgeous sun, and that you were struggling to think how to start this column because you haven’t written it for a month— Did you miss me
I am you: So no
— and you thought the coffee cup analogy thing, which frankly really took you far too long to get to, was— well, not an intro exactly, because the idea has no end to it, but it felt like something, didn’t it? It felt like 60 percent of a thought instead of 100 percent, and it was better that you write it down here than just let the coffee cup thing eat you alive from the inside: Because it would.
Because it would, exactly, and so: Nobody is talking about how long it takes for an empty coffee cup to become dirty!
This is by far the most insane intro you have ever written in your entire wretched career: £2,383………… a month!
You remember, of course, the sky pool. If you do not: a couple of weeks ago, when it was warm, the BBC tweeted a short video of a translucent floating sky pool between two residential blocks in Nine Elms, south-west London, which inspired strange, intense, Marmitian reactions in everyone who saw it: either you wanted to swim in the sky pool, or the sheer idea of the sky pool was troubling to you.
Either it says luxury or vertigo. Nobody simply nods at the sky pool and says “OK”. Either it makes you want to swim in it like a mermaid, or it makes you darkly horny for the inevitable “London Sky Pool Disaster!” headlines circa summer 2022:
Can you swim in the sky pool? You? No, not really: the sky pool is only for residents of the Nine Elms development, and, crucially, only for some of them.
Nine Elms is one of those “poor door” developments that unnecessarily inflicts a hierarchy on those living there, between “the people in the £1.5 million penthouses” and the “just having shared ownership of a £600,000 flat” scum. We could sit here and have a ranging three-pint conversation about what this says about London right now, about inequality in this country, about how the existence of a sky pool in a city overcome with child poverty and homelessness is essentially vulgar, and we can both really agree with each other and maybe we’ll go back to your flat and drink supermarket red out of an old Nutella glass while I look through all your books – but that’s probably a waste of time. All I would say about the sky pool is: once again, wealth is wasted on people who think Dubai “has a vibe”.
Anyway, here is a place you can rent in the sky pool building. It’s just a flat, really, though it hums with mediocrity: a chillingly bloodless new-build open plan living area, a completely unnecessary bracket between that space and the kitchen, some nice natural light and a miniature balcony, a small-but-neat bedroom and a walk-in shower.
If this was your hotel room, you’d be like, ‘Yeah: nice enough.’ If you lived here, I think you would like it at first, then slowly, inevitably, the size of the place would close in on you like a prison cell. For your £2,383 a month – which I suppose you could split with a partner if you really dislike having your own privacy – you only get 598 square foot of space, which really is not very much. And it’s not like that small amount of space is particularly nice, either – it’s just new in that way that is very dreadful and boring.
But these flats are always marketed as being very exciting, because yes, you only have four rooms and all of them are tiny, but get this: there’s an insane pool on the roof! There’s a gym downstairs! You never need to be in your small and bland and shitty flat because get this, guys: there’s a cinema on-site! It is a bizarre adult-living-as-luxury-halls-of-residence pivot that a lot of these places are going through right now: you are paying a completely wacky premium on rent for access to a swimming pool and a couple of films that you can already see on Now TV.
A gym membership and an Odeon card would fulfil all of these things and more for a lot less, and it means you don’t have to be forced into being friends with your neighbours – who, and I’m speculating, but I really just feel they are all, every single one of them, those 100K-follower Instagram lads who inexplicably have their own line of tracksuits, and those girls whose names you’ve already forgotten from last year’s Love Island who are trying to make their beauty YouTube channel happen – and I suppose this is the real takeaway of the sky pool building and all of those who sail in her: even if you have £2,300 a month to spend on rent, even if you are deeply wealthy in a way where spending £27,000 a year on rent makes more sense to you somehow than buying, you can still live in an absolute miniature hellhole in south-west just because it’s got a bit of a pool and some gym.
London is now a city so broken that even rich people live somewhere shit! How did we fuck this place up so badly!