What is it? THERE IS NO LIGHT……………. NO DARKNESS…………. NO HEAVEN NO HELL…………………… THERE IS ONLY………………,, LEOPARD BED
Where is it? LEOPARD BED KNOWS ALL……….. SEES ALL. LEOPARD BED TASTES THE SALT OF YOUR TEARS BEFORE YOU CRY THEM. LEOPARD BED SEES YOUR PAST AND YOUR FUTURE BOTH. LEOPARD BED SEES YOUR PARENTS AND YOUR PARENTS' PARENTS AND YOUR PARENTS' PARENTS' PARENTS. TIME IS RACING NOW, FASTER, THE EDGES SMUDGING, RACING: THE PYRAMIDS BEING MADE IN REVERSE, RIVERS SUCKING UP TO THE TOPS OF VALLEYS, TREES CRAWL BACK INTO THE FETID EARTH, FISH SHIVER BACKWARDS INTO THE LAKES. AT THE START, ALL IS NOTHING, ALL IS DARK. AT THE START……….. LEOPARD BED
What is there to do locally? LEOPARD BED DOES NOT CARE FOR YOUR HUMAN "GEOGRAPHY". LEOPARD BED LAUGHS AT YOUR NEED FOR A DECENT FLAT WHITE AND A PRACTICALLY-PLACED CORNER SHOP. THE CONCERNS OF MAN ARE THE TORTURES OF THE LEOPARD BED. "It's in Cricklewood. What's in Cricklewood?" YOU SAY, AND LEOPARD BED BARKS A ROUGH, THIN LAUGH AT YOU. "Sort of in that deadzone of made-up places past Hampstead – 'Childs Hill'? That's not a thing, is it? Fortune Green? Mapesbury? Is there a Big Tesco round there, at least? If nothing else, give me a Big Tesco. I can live without a TK Maxx if you've at least got a Big Tesco." LEOPARD BED COUGHS OUT A CLOUD OF GRIM GREY DUST. YOU INSPECT CLOSER. THEY ARE— THEY CAN'T BE? THEY— THEY ARE THE GRIM GRAINY ASHES OF YOUR OWN DEAD BODY ! Alright, how much are they asking? LEOPARD BED DEMANDS A MONTHLY SACRIFICE OF £1,083 OR IT WILL TURN ON THE CHILDREN TOO.
Hmm, not a bed, this, is it. This is: categorically not a bed. I see what it's going for, this thing. It’s going for "bed". Thematically, it is beddish. As an item, it is bedlike. But it is not a proper noun. It is not an actual… "bed":
So that's a lounger, and then on top of the lounger you have, in order, a thin red foam; a single trodden-down pillow; two more layers of foam, curling up at the ends, producing a sort of false recliner angle; a fourth, final, foam layer, wider and thicker than the rest; a single thin-fleece, leopard print. This is the Leopard Bed. It's not a bed or a leopard. It is a horrible chimera of the two.
I'll admit up front that I am and always have been a bed diva: I have, perhaps, aspirational standards for things I sleep in. I like them to be solid furnitures of double-width with an actual mattress, slats underneath, no sign of collapse or stain, and not just be a load of foams piled up on an uncomfortable sofa. I'll admit that beds beneath that standard can and do exist, and many people can quite happily spend a night sleeping on them. But my body aches just looking at the Leopard Bed. My back is stiff. I can feel my legs curling up into my body, and they won't fully extend down again until two or three hours after I've got up. The sheer sight of the Leopard Bed contorts and exhausts me. I can't imagine actually sleeping in it.
So the bed’s shit, so what? Well: this is a bed (or bed-like device; for ease, we’ll pretend from now that this is a bed) inside a studio flat (supposedly) that costs £1,083 a month to rent. For north of a grand a month, I want a bed. For north of a grand a month, I want that bed not to be in my kitchen. We know the shonky rules with London-based studio flats now – they are tiny rooms rendered tinier by stuffing in every possible basic you would need to sustain life, so they have a thin apparatus wall mocked up in the shape of a kitchen, and a bathroom alcove, and in between all that something that looks vaguely like a bed. But they are not actual flats, actually designed to live in. They are flophouses, or bunks, or bedsits, something just up from a cell but just down from a room. They shouldn't cost £1,083 a month to exist in.
Let's take a look around, why not. It’s not like we have far to go, with the kitchen being right there. One thing that does trouble me slightly is the placement of the washing machine in relation the hob: the special small double-hob that you only get in shitty flats like this is placed directly over the washing machine, and I can’t help but feel a jiggling, full-loaded 'chine on a spin cycle is going to absolutely fuck with you if you’re trying to heat soup in a small pan directly above it. Like, yeah, I want my socks clean and dried, obviously, but I don’t want that action to jiggle my New Covent Garden Creamy Veg up and out of the pan and down myself while I’m doing it. If I'm paying £1,083 a month and sleeping on a recliner, I don’t want to have to choose between "doing cooking" or "doing laundry". Let this man do both.
What else, what else. Once again, I am struck by the chair ambition of London’s landlords. London’s landlords provide every shithole flat like this with enough chairs to seat about six guests, but who would have guests in one of these places – "Come, six people, and see how I live! Look at the cursed bed I sleep on!" – I don't know. So the chairs rapidly become, simply, clutter: you cannot throw the chairs out, as the landlord will punish you on the deposit. You cannot email the landlord asking them to remove the chairs because they will just ignore the email. The chairs were already in their way, so they moved them and put them in yours instead. They do not want them back.
Do not assume London landlords are ever providing you with a chair out of good will. They are doing it just to laugh at you as you pay to live around it.
And then the bathroom, which is just a tiny coat cupboard with a shower and a toilet in it. I don't actually see a sink in there, though it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that there is one, hidden, behind an alcove or something, and the angle of the photograph lazily taken to advertise this place just avoids it. Unless someone emails me telling me otherwise, there is no sink. So you’re in Cricklewood. You’ve got no bathroom sink. You are haunted by chairs, surrounded by chairs. You’ve got soup all down you. You sleep on a wad of foam. If this flat was free, I'd honestly say you could do a bit better. The fact that it’s £1,083 a month is a sin against the gods.