What is it? I want to say "a corridor", but corridors necessarily have more space than this, to walk down, so actually I’m going to revise that definition to "a cluttered corridor";
Where is it? In Dublin, again, a place that has very quietly become a sort of Bermuda Triangle of bad rental opportunities at even worse prices than in London, so much so that we may as well declare it "second London" and raze it to the ground appropriately;
What is there to do locally? I’m very truly going to start deleting this question from the intro because it’s hard enough pretending I know the local bars and hotspots in London districts I’ve never been to – or, at best, slowly crawled through on the bus – but I’ve never been to Dublin even at all, have I. This is an absurd question to ask me, like asking for fun and hip activities to do on the moon. Look: the Google map says there’s an Irish–Jewish Museum, alright? Go there. There’s a kung-fu studio and a thin stream-cum-canal you can throw yourself into. Leave me alone. Figure out your own fun.
Alright, how much are they asking? €750 a month, or approx £661, according to a currency conversion I just did.
I once had to piss on a canal boat, and the fact that I’m still talking about it today sort of shows you how much I enjoyed that ordeal. I, like you, have cycled past canal boats in the hazy summer evening and thought they looked like a good place to be. Bicycles strapped to the top of them, the canal boats, and large old tyres filled with soil and flowers. Some canal boats open like a hatch to serve ice cream or other sweet and savoury treats to the canal goers outside. You see the canal boats, bobbing, with young people in T-shirts perched on top, drinking beers they have fished out from the cool black canal beneath them. The smell of barbecue smoke fills the air. What are they charcoaling? A sausage? A Quorn patty? It doesn’t matter: the scene is so wholesome, the sky turning so perfectly from orange to pink to dark, the long grass rustling behind you. Pull your bike to a skidding halt and smell the air. Don’t you want this? You could be a canal person, couldn’t you? Do you, really, need four walls and a set of stairs? Maybe you just need one long floating wooden tube, and a sense of freedom, and a diesel-powered generator?
No. You have not pissed on a canal boat. You know nothing of hell.
So here is my impression of pissing on a canal boat:
ME: It’s… Jesus Christ. Is this a… Jesus. It’s… fuck. Fucking hell. This is a potty.
Here is my impression of me, a six–four human male, walking down the length of a canal boat to have the aforementioned harrowing piss:
ME: [Clonks enormous head like 15 to 20 times on the ceiling in a circa ten-second time period] fucking helllllllllllllll—
Listen, it’s not fun. Some people are canal people. Some people are canal boat people, get over it. But I am not one of them. After that bad piss, I can never be one of them. And I have not been so reminded of the curious long dimensions of that wooden piss tube than I have by this, uh, flat (?) in Dublin. Because, like, look at it. It’s really long and wooden and stuff:
Normally, here, I like to do a tour of the flat and assess it, but there are exactly two photos of the space available and I’m pretty sure they encompass all of it. So, for instance, you have a single bed, which past the age of 14 is never not a bleak place to be. We have the classical "thin as it is possible to get" mattress on top of that. Consider for a moment how narrow the front door is. Look at you, look at your width. Could you walk through that front door? I think I’m going to have to go through that front door sideways, personally. Another question, about the door: where does one go about buying a door that is half the width of a normally viable door? What kind of door shop sells this, and why?
Move down to the kitchen, now. I have to concede that, for an unliveable space custom built to house exactly one human, this is a tastefully done one. I mean, look at that wood. A four-ring hob, a rare treat in such circumstances. (Normally landlords get one of those weird two ring-microwave combos and plug it into the wall with a gnarled yellow wire. The microwave still has bean residue in it, always.) There is cupboard space, and an extractor fan. You have to do all the preparation and cleaning in a slither of corridor space, akin to making a roast on a moving train, but still. You could live like this, couldn’t you? You can’t really bend down quickly to look inside the oven without hitting your body on every single side of the flat, but you could live like this? Sort of? Couldn’t you?
If you do a CSI-style enhance on the only part of the flat not clearly pictured then you seem to have 1 x overly ornate chair, 1 x tiled floor (the tiles go eight tiles deep, exactly, which fans of personal space will note is not very far) and 1 x fire extinguisher, 0 x visible toilet, 0 x visible shower and 1 x additional fire exit-style door, disguised by what appears to be a blind. So I mean if you are allowed to go shitty in this place, or indeed pissy, you might actually be resigned to just doing it in that sink, trying not to kick every single wall in the place while you do it. The listing advertises an electric shower, but I’m not exactly sure where it might be. Presumably the eight tile area is some sort of wet room, and you just shower directly onto it. For £661 a month.
The more I see tiny, slither-like properties like this, the more I am convinced I am staring at a dystopian future – five, ten, 15 years away, but not much more – where this, for young people, is the norm. We are only one more Channel 4 show about people living in innovatively designed vans, or one more "we bought a Japanese pod hotel to London!" press release, or one sub-reddit of nerds watching Ready Player One and thinking, 'Yes, actually, I could live inside of a van stacked on top of another van, as long as I have a VR headset to escape to' until we reach the point of no return. Because here we are, slowly abrading the acceptable dimensions of a space we might deem liveable, ever pinching square inches away from the very minimum we might find acceptable.
This is the future, lads. Start walking round your house sideways like a crab so you’re ready for it.