What is it? Every week, I sit in my little flat and perch on my little chair and open up the flap of my little laptop and think of my little words and type them on my stupid moron keyboard, on and on and on and on, forever and ever, amen—
Where is it? We never confront the idea of limbo, enough, I don’t think. Heaven and Hell are a very accepted binary – there are good people (Heaven) and bad people (Hell), with no disambiguation in between, and when we die (when the jet black abyss rises up to claim us, with a thunderous whoosh), when we die, blink, gone, dead, we are taken instantly to the gates of either, for the tour. “Welcome to Heaven,” Saint Peter says, at the gates, as buoyant little clouds fizz around you (the sun, of course, is shining). “Everyone from life who you loved is here, waiting for you. Your family, your friends, your departed pets.” “Do I have to go to the toilet, Sir Peter?” you ask him. “It’s Saint Peter,” he smiles, beatifically, “and no.” “If I don’t have to shit and piss, does that mean I don’t get to eat and drink, either?” you say, and he smiles again. “There is no need for food up here,” he says, “you’re in Heav—” “Okay, but what if I like sandwiches? What if I like eating sandwiches? And drinking beer? You’re telling me I never get to eat a sandwich again? Ever? And that’s the good one? That’s the good option?” Saint Peter talks into a little walkie-talkie he has clipped to his robe, for a second. It emits a heavenly skkrr. “You— I— my child, you simply have no need of sandwiches in Heaven, for all your needs are met—” “Okay, but what if I want a sandw—” “You may eat sandwiches if you wish, child, but you shall find that you have no need for—” “Take me to the sandwich platter. Take me to Heaven’s Subway. I lived a good life, now take me to the deli meat spread.”
What is there to do locally? Or Hell, I suppose, which is worse on paper but has a spicy edge about it that makes it (to me, at least) sound more fun. “Welcome to HELL,” a vibrant red lesser demon says, while a rock lick plays, screechingly, forever. “You’re in HELL, brother!” “Do I get to shit and piss here?” “As much as you want!” “What’s the sandwich situation?” “They are filled with a thousand tortures!” I’ve eaten from the Boots Meal Deal fridge before and lived. Take me to Hell, mate. At least the fun ones are down here. I’d rather hang out with The Krays, forever, than Cliff Richard for one single day—
Alright, how much are they asking? I suppose we got theological there because the reality is this: limbo, the cruel grey netherworld between the two binaries of good and evil, is here, already, on Earth, and we are wading through a thick fog of it, just the same thing every single day – wake up again and brush your teeth again and have your breakfast again and check your email again, again and again and again forever – and only when we die (the abyss, the darkness, whoosh) do we feel any sense of peace, even if we’re condemned to eat spider sandwiches in Hell, because at least, come on, at least it’s something different—
Did you run out of space to answer your usual format questions at the start and have to invent a previous unheard-of fifth question, this one, in which to fit the actually quite pertinent information before the article (proper) starts? Yes I did.
What is it? It’s a very small studio flat in—
Where is it? I was saying where it was! It is in—
What is there to do locally? IF YOU LET ME FINISH I WILL TELL YOU IT IS IN TOTTENHA—
Alright, how much are they asking? —M ONE THOUSAND AND SIXTY-SEVEN POUNDS PER CALENDAR MONTH.
Here’s a little room you can rent in Tottenham, if you want. I wouldn’t! But it’s a little room in Tottenham you can rent, if you want. If you want to live in Tottenham, in a little tiny room, you can, here. It costs just over one thousand pounds per month, to live in a little room, in Tottenham, if you want. The little room in Tottenham also has a bathroom attached to it. Only two photos of the little room in Tottenham exist, because that is all there is to it. There is nothing else to photograph. Just the little room (in Tottenham), and the piss-and-shit alcove next to it. £1,067 a month:
This has been finished to that generic grey-skim “high quality” that landlords and property agents and Mrs Hinch like, and no one else alive does, which means this is a pre-meditated attack on the property market, and not an accidental one. The room is scuff-free and unfurnished because nobody has lived in it before.
That is to say: over the past nine months that we’ve all been living through the Hell (see intro) of the pandemic, I’m imagining a landlord and a couple of builders were colluding to make this, a little tiny room in Tottenham, with the hope of renting it out to someone for £1,067 per month.
Side-note: this is a modest proposal, and one I’ve been working on for a while, but: take one human right away for every property someone buys beyond the one they live in. That would genuinely solve like 80 percent of the housing problem.
But listen: we’ve talked about grey soullessness and a near-deliberate lack of space and locking landlords neck-first in a gulag before – these are old topics to us. What I want to point out about the little tiny room in Tottenham is this: there is nothing in it. The little tiny room – i.e. the main room that you have to use as your bedroom and your kitchen and your living room – is unfurnished at the very primary level, as in, it doesn’t have a bed in it.
Do you own a bed? I have been renting in London for ten years, and never have I owned a bed. Also: the kitchen doesn’t have an oven (do you own an oven?) or a fridge (D.Y.O.A.F.?) or a washing machine (do you own a washing machine? Can you conceive of a world where you would own a washing machine?) in it either, so essentially what you are renting here is “one room with a sink in it” and “one adjacent room with a sink and a shower in it”. That’s it.
If you want to sleep here, that is going to cost you extra. If you want to eat hot food here, that is going to cost you extra. If you want to wash your clothes here, that is going to cost you extra. If you move out of this place in a year, to a flat that already has white goods and a bed inside it, you are going to have to sell the units you bought, at a loss. I don’t think it’s wildly welcoming to make people pay for their own bed and oven and washing machine up front, just before they can fully make use of the shitty little room. If you made me pay up front for any of those things at any point in my twenties I, simply, wouldn’t be able to. I’d be sleeping on the floor, eating Pot Noodles for a few months, until I got my money right enough to live like a human instead of an animal.
Tottenham was one of those areas that, a couple of years ago, was breathlessly lauded as the “new Peckham” (the London property market is constantly “looking out” for a new area that is poised to “come up” [i.e. get a Franco Manca and destroy a council estate, raising house prices by more than the median salary]), and those buying property for the first time get very excited about the idea of their precious little investment accruing money, so they can sell in five years without ever having made a dent on the community, then move to whichever new “new Peckham” there is at that moment, and do it all again, on and on and on, smiling throughout – “We painted our front door yellow!” they say “It’s Farrow & Ball! We don’t know the name of a single person who lives in our postcode!” – on and on, yellower and yellower.
You have to wonder, I suppose, on the morality of that – the Heaven and Hell – if this is the state the neighbours above, beneath and to the side of you are forced to live in so that you can afford a nice little two bed in commuter distance to the station and in the catchment of a nice school. I think it’s too late to suggest that gentrifiers (and by that, I also mean tactical house-buyers in set-to-explode areas) are, bit-by-bit, ruining this city – the city is already ruined. But I think they are starting to tug on the thin fraying threads that hold actual society together, too, and beyond that there’s only the whoosh of the abyss.
You could rent this little room in Tottenham, if you want. Or you could move far, far, far away from here, and live a life you deserve, in the few little years between birth and death. Your choice!