What is it? I don’t think there’s a legal definition to a "studio flat", i.e. something that makes it a crime to label a small glossed room the rough size and shape of a prison cell as being a marketable, rentable asset that real humans can live an actual life inside, and so until such a time does exist, I suppose we must call this: "a studio flat";
Where is it? It’s in Fulham, which is one of those places that has curiously wide quiet roads and you walk around it, Fulham, and oh: doesn’t this bakery, in Fulham, look nice? Perhaps you will pop inside and buy one of the gorgeous, near-decorative fist-sized meringues they have in the window. And then they get a special pair of tongs to pick the meringue up, and you know you’re in trouble. And then they put the meringue in a special meringue box. They are tying ribbon on it. You only wanted a sweet treat. You only wanted a little snack. This has taken six entire minutes, this process. They charge you for the meringue by weight. And then, finally, when it’s your turn to pay, they tell you: "That will be eight pounds, sir, for a single meringue." Too late not to buy it. You’re in too deep. Question: can you afford this meringue? It’s 15 days into the month, meaning it’s 14 days since you last checked your bank account. Bit nervy, this one. Is this… going to… go through? Card payment goes through. Fuck. You made it. You’re a hero. You’re a king! The meringue is 7/10, very much erring on the mediocre, and your card gets declined later in Tesco when you’re buying a single bag of pasta. Was it worth it? Was it worth it? Let’s never go back to Fulham;
What is there to do locally? I have honestly no idea. When I first moved to London I was told Lily Allen sometimes hangs out in Fulham so I’ve avoided the area ever since. "OI, WANNA HEAR MY NEW SONG IT’S SORT OF LIKE A JOKE, YEAH, BUT—" No, no. No, thank you. Not the kind of stress I need in my life right now;
Alright, how much are they asking? £913.13 a month, somehow.
Have you ever been in love? You probably have. Everyone ends up in it somehow, don’t they. Even – and I speak from experience! – massive adult virgin sadlads. You always see those documentaries about them, don’t you, the massive adult virgin sadlads, earnestly telling the camera how they are in love with their special human girl-sized anime pillow. Love, the concept thereof, is something we always associate with human-to-human relationships, hand-holding and gazing off bridges with your hair ruffled and a creep of a smile on you both. But also, I really love Bahlsen biscuits, and cats. I love, like, Emmanuel Eboue. The movie Superbad. You can love a pillow. You can fuck a pillow. It’s weird more of us don’t end up married to pillows. Anyway, my point in there, somewhere: everyone, in the end, figures their way into some form of love. I think that’s what I’m getting at here.
I need you to play an imagine game with me now: imagine you are in love. With a human, not an unlaundered pillow case. And that human, who you love, is also in love with you.
You and your boo are ready to take it to the next level. You met the parents, the old family dog has learned to trust you. You spent a Christmas at theirs, once, away from your own family, away from mummy. Didn’t feel too weird, did it? Sort of felt… right, in a way. Like a creeping little glimpse into the future. That you could spend tens of these together, dozens. One day, all of you, around here, on this rug, watching as your own small family opens its presents in front of the fire. You’re ready, son. You’re ready to move. Also, fucking hell: her housemate is a pig and the constant commuting across town to Hammersmith just to get your oats is doing your head in. It’s been 24 months. It’s either this or propose. Move in together.
Would you move in here?
Would you? The landlord would really like you, a couple, to move in here. It says so in the listing: "It is ideally suitable for a couple." Is it? The bed, as best I can tell, is a fold-out sofa. Is that what you want? You and your boo? A bed that also doubles as a sofa? And is orange? You have one cupboard in the kitchen area (the kitchen area is essentially a special miniature oven built for ants and a sort of sink-hob hybrid): is that enough cupboard room? For you and your boo? And all your mugs? Think of all the mugs. What about the plates, though? Where do you put the olive oil? I only ask this because you’re going to have to have a fight, you and your boo, about where you put the olive oil. All those hot sauces you bought from the old flat you used to share with the lads: there is no space here, in this cupboard, for those. The "Shit Your Balls Out!" hot sauce goes sadly into the bin, which has to be emptied twice a day, because it is tiny.
Maybe you can both find some respite from one another by going to the bathroom. No. The bathroom is made of a stand-up shower which seems to be the width and depth of two bathroom tiles (how wide are you? How deep are you? Deep enough to have trouble having a shower, in this? Remember how much you have to move your arms when you shower. How much you bend over. Can’t really do that in here, can you). Have your shower. Do a shit right next to where you just showered. Slop out of the bathroom to the only other room in the house, where your boo is just sat silently on the fold-down bed, mad at you.
How does your love feel now?
Obviously, personally, I am of the opinion that love is a lie and a scam, but I know a lot of people see it as a very fulfilling hobby to have in their life, plus also a lot of them see it as the sort of endgame to their entire existence, as a whole, companionship right from your fit years through to your rich years through to your death. In that way: I can see how love is good and a lot of people would like to try to have it.
This is not a place of love, though. There is no way love can survive in here. You cannot walk into this flat as an in-love person – "Aha, wow! Sometimes we spend weekends going to John Lewis and looking at – but not actually buying – quite expensive lamps! We! Both! Take! Pictures! Of! Dogs! In! Pubs! We’re so in love!" – but you cannot leave here still in that state. I’d give it eight days until your relationship is ruined in this place, maybe nine. Ten days and you’re both just yelling. Eleven and your boo has texted to say she’s "staying at her mum's, and I don’t know until when". And now it’s just you, alone, in this white elephant of a bedsit, wondering if the sofa folds back up again when there’s one of you operating it instead of two. The London property market is now actively sabotaging the concept of love. Thank you, landlords, once again, for that.
Previously, on this: