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london rental opportunity of the week

London Rental Opportunity of the Week: It is Never Going to Get Worse Than This, Truly, in Surrey Quays

How did you take this photo, my dude.

Joel Golby

Joel Golby

What is it? That, my friend, is an Argos partition screen and a fucking ladder in the middle of someone's front room;
Where is it? Surrey Quays, the answer to the question somebody apparently asked once, that question being, "What if we put an out-of-town shopping complex on top of some fucking docks?" Or: "Is there any way we could make Canada Water, only a bit more soulless?"
What is there to do locally? There is a food market in Surrey Quays that keeps catfishing me into wanting to go to it: I see photos of sandwiches on Instagram, or read fun little food blogs, or a new burrito restaurant opens up, or a pop-up branch of a restaurant that has since closed, and before knowing the exact details I make small plans to go there in my head – this food, I think, this delicious food: this weekend, I could go and find it, and buy it and consume it – and then when I look up where the food is I realise it's in fucking Surrey Quays and fuck that off, mate, absolutely fucking not. Surrey Quays. Fuck off. Anyway: you could go there and politely message my work email to tell me whether it was worth the trip or not;
Alright, how much are they asking? £665 pcm, which as I have mentioned before is the exact price point for what I consider "a reasonable amount of rent to pay" in this city; anything more than that is exploitation and a con, but given what you get for your money here I think we may be onto a new and ever more debased housing ruse, more debased than ever before.

Men are idiots, aren't they, simple idiots. I say this as a man so I think it's alright. I know what it is like, to live in this rough body, to be prone to the whims of my testosterone, to grapple every day with a stripe of pragmatism that runs through me like rock. Here's the manliest thing I think I've ever done: I completely fucking undercooked a jacket potato once, at university, and didn't realise until I'd sat down with it on my lap, beans all over, and cued up an episode of The Office on DVD, and taken a single bite. And what did I do at this point: did I go and microwave the potato, therefore making it a pleasant eating experience? No: we did not have a microwave. Did I decide to scrape the beans off back into the pan and cook the potato until it was actually edible? No, I did not. I did not do this for one very basic reason: because I didn't, truly, have to. Potato is food. Beans is food. There is a small heartbeat in the middle of every man that goes: I am pretty sure the absolute bare minimum will do, and it kicked in here:

I sat and ate the raw potato, friends, a pact of stubbornness both for myself and against myself. I feel only a dude would do this.

Semi-related question: sincerely, truly, what do you need to live? I mean, you only really need a couple of square feet of personal space either side of your shoulders and in front of your head, and a bed to lie on, and… what, a bit of floor space in which to put your stuff? Access to a shower and clean water? Dryness and warmth? That's about it, isn't it, really. To very basically and fundamentally live – as in, exist, without dying ­– that's about all you need, really, isn't it. Somewhere you can lie down and sleep without succumbing fully to the elements, without dying immediately of exposure. It's good to not die, sometimes, I think, and we need only very basic conditions in which to do that.

You could eat a raw potato for dinner tonight and be more or less fine with it. You could live in this big mad house in Surrey Quays and technically not die. These are all facts. These are all very pragmatic facts. I think the same line of thinking has gone into both of them.

Here are some photos of a ladder in a house:

(All these photos via Spareroom, which apparently does absolutely no moderation at all)

And here is a screenshot of the advert, proper:

SMALL DETAILS YOU MAY, IN YOUR HORROR, HAVE MISSED

– A single forlorn candle, lit presumably in honour of the dead, there to cosy up the open-plan kitchen a bit/drive down the fumes that come with having three adult males living and sweating in a small confined space;
– A clock affixed to a wall that is at least five magnitudes thinner than the clock it is holding, an interior design choice again unique only to males;
– The '''''bedroom''''' is in no way private at all because the partition wall does not offer visual privacy from two of the four angles a normal room offers visual privacy from, and also the gap underneath the partition is roughly as high as a public bathroom door, so it offers no audio privacy either, and so presumably literally every wank you attempt is either disturbed by i. Flatmate #1, intricately making a cup of tea in the kitchen, or ii. Flatmate #2, the guy renting this – who, for the sake of ease, I am going to now call, I don't know, "Rick" – rapt in front of his 55-inch TV, which is situated a couple of feet away from you, and is loud;
– Please note the amount of space set aside for the subletter is less than the amount of holy space left for the sofa/coffee table/55-inch TV set up, like oh my god Rick, move your fucking coffee table dude, your TV isn't that important, good christ
– Nothing says "this flat has insufficient cupboard space" like having to use the tops of your cupboard as a spice rack;
– There is no way of standing up in the attic if you are even one inch taller than a boiler, which most humans alive are, so I suppose if you are to live up there you are meant to climb the ladder – that ladder wheezes like an old man coughing up a handful of bolts, I know this just by looking at it, proper sags-when-you-stand-on-it job – and then sort of flop into the attic and slither around up there like a particularly large meaty snake, and then sort of shuffle into your bed, which vertical space dictates needs to be a mattress on the floor at the very tallest, ideally the attic dweller would be a person with no arms and maybe on top of that short legs;
– My Boy Rick, my sweet idiot boy, what the hell kind of— how in the fuck did you take this photo of your bathroom?

I have tried to recreate this, at work. To get that amount of arm into the frame – the arm facing the camera, in the high corner of the frame, hand somehow out of shot – you need to hold the camera in your claw, use the volume button as a shutter and… use the… front-facing… camera…? To take a picture of your bathroom?

I do not understand how this has happened. Here is me holding the camera in the only viable pose that could take this photo of a bathroom, which by the way was actively painful to my hand:

Here is the photo I took doing that, please excuse the small amount of salad dressing on my cuff:


So I mean: what the fuck, man? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck?

What the fuck?

* * *

What's happened here is this: Your Boy Rick has rented himself a studio flat, bought a fuck-off 55-inch television and has abruptly run out of money entirely and now has to sublet not to one but two people to bring his rent down to something he can manage. Listen: we've all done this. Haven't we? We've all had a bit of a hectic one and spent literally all of our money on a Surrey Quays deposit and a fuck-off TV, and now we have to rent a small slither of our attic out to the desperate. Have we not all done this, at one point or another? I ate a potato, raw. I'm not in a position to judge anyone.

So in many ways, Your Boy Rick is a victim of the bloated, ever-expanding rotten corpse of the London housing market, chained to a contract he can't afford, staring deep into a defaulted payment, only the smooth pixel rendering of his 55-inch TV to soothe him at night. But also on the other hand he is the very worst person alive who takes a picture like a madman. It's tricky, isn't it, deciding whether things are bad or good. But I actually think – deep down, beneath all of this – ah. No. This is definitely really, really bad.

@joelgolby (h/t @T_OByrne)

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