What is it? We have these archaic and ancient ideas of Hell – the nine circles, the smell of sulphur, the glow of constant heat, steam hissing from red-hot stones, fire and lava and wicked little goblins made of scales and lurid pink tongues and long papery wads of bat-wing skin – but we must recognise them now as wrong and outdated, and instead look to here, on Earth, in London, where landlords have found new and astonishing configurations of evil for us to spend our eternity in, and what I'm saying is: some cunt put a mezzanine girder in the middle of an otherwise small and normal room—
Where is it? Muswell Hill, which is essentially just a very large branch of Waitrose in north London.
What is there to do locally? If you're not from London and you move to London, you will learn one essential truth about London as soon as you move here: it is impossible to get good chip-shop chips in London. I feel this taps into what I call "Mum's Roast Paradox": the concept that, no matter where you go and what you eat, no matter how carefully prepared or Michelin-starred the chef, nobody on Earth can quite make a roast as well as your mum does. Similarly, the chips you grew up on are the chips you learn to love, and no other chips can compare to those chips, every chip beyond Your Chip feels wrong. But this is all irrelevant, because every chip in London is just fundamentally bad and crap and incorrect: too yellow, too pallid, too soft, a bulbous or otherwise wrong shape. First time I went for chips in London it was in Muswell Hill and I asked for a "chip cob", and the guy looked at me like I'd just called his mum "a dead dog's cock", and that has turned out since to be the best chip-shop I've been to in London, so… sorry, this went off-topic, the Coleen Rooney thing happened halfway through me writing this paragraph—
Alright, how much are they asking? Err… sorry, just reading Rebekah Vardy's response. Not being funny but I don't need the money: £825 p.c.m.
Much like the Chinese calendar has the Year of the Pig, so the eternal loop of the London rental market has January to January themes: in 2019, we are cursed to live through the Year of the Mezzanine. In 20 years, if we haven't all baked to death beneath the heat of the sun, we will look back on 2019 as a touchstone, a parody year, the same way early-2000s late-night Channel 4 revue shows looked back on the riots of the 1980s, the Falkland War and Thatcher’s "not for turning" speech.
The year is 2039, and Rylan, by now on his fifth facelift, his eyes almost closed with surgery but his face still perfect and tan and taut, his teeth seven or eight times the size they are now, veneers on top of other veneers, will be reminiscing about this year in front of a green screen with faux-fondness. "2019, eh?" he'll say. "Remember all them Extinction Rebellion lot, always marching on bridges, spraying their blood around? And we had Boris Johnson, before the mob lynched him. And remember how every shit-hole flat for rent in London had a mezzanine floor in it for your bed? 'Live, Laugh, Love,' we used to say. What were we thinking?"
Anyway, in 2019 a mezzanine is a sort of interstitial floor level between the normal floor and the normal ceiling that, ideally, should be used as a luggage rack, but is often repurposed by landlords wishing to squeeze extra functionality out of a room by flopping a mattress on it and calling it an elevated bed.
We've seen a number of these in London this year, a recurring theme, but most of them have been natural mezzanines, i.e. they had been built into the solid foundations of the house as a sort of feature, planned by architects and designers who built the properties before everything imploded, to be a sort of fun shelf in one small alcove of an otherwise occupied house, and not a small segment in a single person's room to be used as a bed. But I've never seen… this, which seems to be a special shelf girdered into a room long after the room was finished, specifically to hold a bed aloft on:
We'll do the quick tour: about 25 percent of your kitchen is occupied by your bin, the rest of it being an empty cupboard alcove, a classic "two-hob embedded in a sink" and a too-low light/extractor combi that doesn't actually seem to be mounted over anything that could possibly generate smoke, so not really sure what the point of it is.
Turn around and you've got your sort of leisure space, over which your floating bed-shelf looms, which doesn't have a sofa in it (if you put a sofa in it, that would instantly take up all of the available space, so… probably give up that sofa-having dream you had! Just stand up!) (You can have a sofa on your mezzanine instead, but it means your bed has to be in your living room and your living room becomes a shelf, and when you stand up to get off the sofa [to make tea, for instance] you instantly clonk your head on the ceiling and fall unconscious and, if not found, your brain bleeds out and you die alone and slowly), but it does have an oil heater, a wardrobe and – bafflingly – a washing machine directly next to your wardrobe, which I don't think is a configuration that has ever happened in history, but does make a sick sort of sense (both are just, if you think about it, functional boxes for clothes – one naturally feeds into the other). It's not a good space.
But it's the bed-shelf that's really tipping me over the edge: the fact that it's lined with the same soulless laminate flooring as the rest of the house, the fact it has two little shelf units by the head of the bed to use as furniture, the reinforced wire siding to stop you from rolling over in your sleep and falling eight feet onto the solid floor, the fact that it being there steals a significant amount of headspace from the room below (you cannot stand up properly in either your "bedroom" or your "living room"), the fact that you have to provide your own mattress to put on there.
This flat is newly built: the walls are clean and white and unsmudged by handprints, nothing has any sign of visible wear to it, the washing machine has the warranty stickers that suggest it's brand new, the cheap wardrobe doors have yet to sag and lean wonkily into one another, which normally happens after about five to six uses. In 2019, someone designed this. In 2019, someone decided to put this shelf across an otherwise (still small!) room.
Future Rylan is right: let's spray the streets with blood, let's lynch the Prime Minister, let's riot against the mezzanine shelves. It is 2019, and we deserve better than this.