London Rental Opportunity of the Week: 2 Beds, 1 Kitchen
How many beds you got in your kitchen? If it's more than "zero": you fucked up.
(All photos via Gumtree)
What is it? [read this sentence with the same clench of dread you get in your chest when you think too hard about the horny viral shitting (*1) video "2 Girls 1 Cup"] 2 Beds 1 Kitchen;
Where is it? Well, the listing says it’s a one-minute walk from Willesden Green station, but the map says it’s at least nine streets and one small-to-medium-sized park away, so I don’t know how fast you’re walking but it’s not a one-minute walk, is it, and it’s not in Willesden Green at all, it’s in fucking Stonebridge;
What is there to do locally? Stonebridge is one of those made-up places out in the north-west of London that clutter around Wembley and which, when you read the place names written on a map, it's as if you are not in London anymore but a GTA recreation of London, where a team of American writers have invented London-sounding place names that, very crucially, do not exist so they cannot get sued – it’s near Harlesden, and Dollis Hill! Neasden! Brondesbury! – and anyway, according to Time Out this particular area of north-west London has one stadium, a few temples and an escape room venue. When did adults start locking themselves in rooms for fun? When did we let that slide under the door of culture?
Alright, how much are they asking? £735 p.c.m.
I’ve said this before, but I have this weird kink where I like to sleep in a room with a locked door alone. That’s my thing, it makes me just hugely horny. I just really like sleeping in a room alone behind a closed door so nobody can interfere with me in any way while I sleep. I like how I can go to sleep for eight hours and not have the movements of another human being disturb me. I like putting my head on a soft pillow and knowing nobody is going to burst into the room to, like, make a sandwich, or start doing karaoke. I like that when I sleep someone isn’t lying in the same room playing on their phone with the key sounds turned on! I like that, and I know it makes me a diva, but that’s my thing. I don’t particularly like to fall asleep among the soft lull of a washing machine winding down a spin cycle, or in the thick smell of a bacon sandwich I cooked and ate several hours ago, or the rustling of my housemate’s legs. That’s Just Me.
This, then, is an absolute living nightmare, one I don’t think I will shake for a while:
To inventory: yes, that is a double bed in a kitchen. If you have read this column before, you will be familiar with those. "Studio flats" in London often offer this neat workaround: you are given one room to live and cook and sleep in, and one small room to shit and do showers, and that is it. We are used to the sleep-in-your-kitchen scenario.
But look closer, now. Is that a—? Yes, yes, it is an additional kitchen bed parallel to your existing kitchen bed. There are two beds in this kitchen. Perhaps, in a pinch, you could sleep in a double bed in your own kitchen: unideal, but maybe you could do it. But what if you’re sharing your kitchen-room with another human adult who is sleeping a few feet away from you in a single bed? For me, that’s going to be a polite but firm "no thank you".
Continue clockwise around the room: in my 11 years in London, I have had every single one of these ugly pieces of furniture at one point or another, and you have too. I can hear this picture: I can hear the dull "clunk" of each piece of furniture sagging and collapsing a half-inch every time I used them. Those drawers over there? IKEA, Upper Clapton, bottom drawer never fully closes because the weight of the two drawers above it compresses them. The wardrobe? Argos, Stoke Newington, lurched ominously to one side every time you pulled the door open with any degree of force. Had those unusable narrow shelves in Honor Oak Park. Had that cheap wire laundry rack in Muswell Hill (the metal beneath the white rubber outer rusts and bleeds when you put wet laundry on it, meaning next time you put your clean laundry on there it stains instantly with red rust marks: good). Box bed: every place I’ve ever lived. Those thin puny blinds that don’t actually go up or down very elegantly because the string to pull them is too thin and they are mounted to the wall with sticky pads instead of actual nails or screws: an N16 special. That dark energy coffee table that is flamboyantly misplaced and has a single candle and a pound shop glass chopping board on it? I think I have that in my current house. I think that’s… my… table?
Here’s the bathroom, which is filthy, tiny, has no natural light and either someone’s affixed a hand towel rail to that wall, like, criminally badly, or someone has broken off a shower head and glued it to the tiled wall because of mania. Out here in Wembley, in a kitchen-studio you share with a whole other person, it’s impossible to tell right from wrong.
We haven’t really dwelled at all on the fact that this house offers two people the chance to share a bedroom that is also a kitchen, but I feel like it needs to be said that: this is bad. Obviously, for a city of 9 million+, this living situation will probably be fine for at least two people – sharing £735 per month in rent, living in a clean dry apartment, clattering into a coffee table occasionally but otherwise being OK: like, it’s bad, but in a totally fine way. A couple of people out there will be chill with living like that. But it’s not ideal, is it, and I think it’s acceptable to say that too. The only person profiting from this is the landlord who bought the place in the first instance, the property agent who fishes apparently all of the available furniture in London out of skips, and the two together spending your £735 a month on cigars and suits, cackling while you listen to your housemate, curled up in a single bed in the heavy smell of the bolognese they made earlier, quietly snoring. This is London, and nobody is looking out for you. Pay your money and don’t ask why someone is sleeping in your kitchen. The strange bathroom handle is structural. See you next month for more rent.
(*1) Side-theory: was "2 Girls 1 Cup" the natural precursor to Buzzfeed's "Tasty" video series? Think about it: a viral clip shared among friends and strangers alike; the rapid preparation and consumption of produce; the antagonists of the video did something wildly disgusting with whatever they were about to eat (vomiting it into the mouth of another person; putting raw chicken in a crock pot and always for some reason covering it with bacon)? A lot of people are telling me "no" on this, and the company's lawyers are getting extremely mad at me, but…………………… have you also thought about "yes"?