Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: A Grim Bedsit in London's Worst Neighbourhood

The only things to do in Clapham are "be Australian", "be an estate agent", or "do group workouts in a park".
August 5, 2020, 4:29pm
One-bed studio flat to rent in Clapham, London
Photo: Zoopla
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? Have you ever wondered what your wardrobe would look like if it were a structural component of your room? Well…
Where is it? Clapham, and the nerve-twitch reaction your body just made on reading that word should tell you everything you need to know about your ability to live there. If you just felt a full-body shudder, a kind of distant back-of-the-neck sick feeling, a quick-onset judder of anxiety, a single-flash memory of Inferno’s, smelled smoke and dust-thick air and heard, distantly, a small crowd of voices shrieking “SHOTTTTTS!”: you are not equipped for Clapham. If you just said, out loud, “Oh fuck yeah, frisbee!” then yes, you are prepared for Clapham. You are fine for Clapham. You should personally be in Clapham, so you can’t infect anywhere else with your sheer Clapham-ness.
What is there to do locally? The only things to do in Clapham are "be Australian", "be an estate agent", or "do group workouts in a park". Occasionally you are allowed to go to one of those overlit no-trainers policy bars that has loads of TVs but doesn’t show the football, and you can buy a £14 vodka–tonic for someone who thinks Dubai is not only a luxurious holiday destination, but a chic one, too. But that’s about it.
Alright, how much are they asking? To you? £1,040 p.c.m.

Advertisement

Fair to say we are all unwell right now (to historians reading this in the future: this instalment of Rental Opportunity of the Week was written from inside the COVID-19 pandemic – Wikipedia it – where we all had to more-or-less stay inside our houses, not go to work properly, only communicate via Zoom call and get really uptight about public hygiene, how often we are breathing out, surface touching, &c., and for that reason everyone in the country is currently classified as "insane"), but I am feeling more smooth-brained than I ever thought possible, because when I first saw this property I was like, “Well, it’s not actually the worst we’ve ever had. Like is it even that bad?” But then as you’re about to see in the photos it is a kitchen with a bed in it, half-divided into two sub-rooms by the clever use of a wardrobe, so… yes. It is that bad:

One-bed studio flat to rent in Clapham, London

Photo: Zoopla

So I’m afraid I have to almost immediately challenge my own idea that this "isn’t that bad" because, well, if I start to slip and think "having a bed inches away from your kitchen fridge" is normal, then that’s where the erosion of society starts. I’m not saying I’m a social lynchpin – that’s for the historians reading this back to declare me, posthumously – but if I start to think "having a dining table in your bedroom, and by bedroom I mean the bit of your front room that isn’t the front room bit, as demarcated by a wardrobe", then landlords will be even more galvanised to think it, and we can’t have that, can we.

Advertisement

I mean, let’s take this in: it is, in essence, a large room with a full kitchen in it. That is normally fine: it’s actually a well-stocked kitchen, with a full oven and hob, and a washing machine, and all the bits a kitchen needs (an actual work surface! A full-sized sink!), but also that kitchen is directly next to the part of the flat that has been designated "bedroom", and that’s less OK. The bedroom itself is a bed (double: better than we’ve come to expect!), two wardrobes ominously facing the bed (structural, looming), and a two-seater dining table that also works as a bedside table. Suddenly paying £1,040 to live in Clapham and have a dining table in both your bedroom and your kitchen feels less "isn’t that bad" by the second.

Living room in One-bed studio flat to rent in Clapham, London

Photo: Zoopla

Then you’ve got your living area space, which again is the same room (always the same), still part of your kitchen, only this is now separate from the rest of the flat with a special screen put up to hide the ugliness of the back of the wardrobes. I’m not going to go in too hard on what is a living space that someone clearly still lives in – it’s a sofa and a table and a TV stand! What is there to get mad about! – but it is all still fundamentally an extension of the kitchen and part of the bedroom too, and the further we get into this flat, the further we get from the light of "it’s not that bad!!!! It’s not!!!!". 

Advertisement

It’s rare we see these flats in states of "lived in", and this particular space neatly highlights something that’s been bugging me about the reality of living in a flatshare in London for a while, which is: where the fuck can you put stuff? Obviously this entire flat revolves around the two large wardrobes that dominate it. Once you hang up all your clothes in a wardrobe, you can put stuff – shoeboxes full of old cinema tickets, a sandwich maker you want to keep but don’t want "out", the thick duvet you only bring out in winter – in the bottom of it. But once you’ve filled that up, where do you put all your shit?

This flat uses the top of the microwave cannily, has a load of boxes on top of the kitchen cupboards (I have just started throwing the boxes for things away as soon as I get them, now. I have never had the storage space to keep a box, "just in case", like the generation before us did. If I ever have to eBay my Nutribullet, it’s going in raw. It’ll be taped in two Tesco Bags For Life and prayer), and keeps a gym bag under the TV stand, because, fundamentally, there’s no-fucking-where for us to put shit.

It is ludicrous that we live in a city where you can pay £1,000+ a month to sleep in your own kitchen and still not fucking have a fucking cupboard, a simple practical cupboard, to put all the shit you need in it! We live constantly amongst our things because the lords of the land decree it! Don’t give me two big fucking wardrobes to live among, you pigs! Give me a nook under some stairs to put spare blankets in!

Toilet in one-bed studio flat to rent in Clapham, London
Shower in One-bed studio flat to rent in Clapham, London

Photo: Zoopla

Anyway, I went off piste. The bathroom is too tiny to sit comfortably on the toilet in or turn around neatly in the shower. There’s no point to this flat at all. If you leave the flat, you are still in "Clapham". It’s not bad, no. It’s terrible.

@joelgolby