What is it? Have you ever wanted to live in a conservatory in Uxbridge? Because if so, I've got a nice conservatory in Uxbridge for you. If you've never wanted to live in someone's conservatory, either in Uxbridge or not in Uxbridge, maybe skip this one.
Where is it? Uxbridge. It’s a conservatory.
What is there to do locally? To give you an idea of where Uxbridge is: it's further out of London than Heathrow is, and on the same sort of equatorial loop as Slough. Beyond Uxbridge you get into made-up place names that are most definitely Not London – Fulmer, Gerards Cross, Colne Valley Regional Park, "Stoke Poges" – and also to give you an idea of the general citizen make-up of Uxbridge, there's this: Boris Johnson is the MP there, they voted for him. So basically your only options are "leave the house, interact with Tory-leaning long-distance London commuters – the type who jostle onto the tube in the morning at 6AM in the frigid freezing cold with wraparound cordless headphones on and Asics running trainers with a suit, backpack the size of a suitcase, and sit down and arrange themselves with a massive old-generation iPad and a KeepCup latte across like five or six seats, always emitting a whirring sort of stressful energy because they have to commute three hours-plus a day (a hundred minutes there, a hundred-and-twenty back) just for the brief joy of living in Uxbridge, a place they hate because it's the prison they have to escape just to pay for, a place they sleep in and eat in and that's about it, they get home at 8PM and are in bed by 10 to be up by 5, so actually all-in-all they only spend about 20 waking hours in Uxbridge a week, and also it is Uxbridge, so no wonder they are palpably unhappy, is this how life is supposed to be lived – then go home probably. Not much else going on".
Alright, how much are they asking? £900 p.c.m.
Your parents are thinking of getting a conservatory. Something hits you when you're in that fat wad of middle-class and middle-age – you need a shiny, un-cosy sunspot to sit and read the Sunday papers in, and you need it now.
Conversatories are universally vile: laminated wood floors, terracotta-colouring tiling, white walls and pine-effect double-glazing frames, the temperature in conservatories a complete lottery, either stiflingly, boiling hot (the glass takes any and all sunlight and amplifies it 100-fold) or freezing, freezing cold (the pathological lack of sun in this country meaning you're essentially just in a space pod, jutting out into grey fog-like drizzle and a frost-on-the-ground surrounding lawn, desperately trying to get near enough to a space heater, but the cord won’t reach far enough) and for some reason the only furniture legally allowed in conservatories is: 1 x uncomfortable wicker sofa; 1 x wicker-and-glass coffee table which has a single fern-like plant on it; 1 x old chess board; 1 x old CD-player/radio, the one you used to have in your bedroom when you were 15, and played your Linkin Park CDs off, and now it looks like a relic, weird and round and grey and smooth like a blob of ore or an alien's head; 1 x bunch of toys abandoned by the dog, that stink.
Conservatories will die out in our lifetimes because our generation will never see the point of addenduming our house (we will never buy a house, but: imagine we do!) with an extra pointless freezing glass room that you can't even fit a full-sized television in, can’t put a whole dinner table in the middle of and can only comfortably sit in about three days a year. "Yeah, we don't really use the conservatory anymore," your parents are saying, staring at the conservatory, thinking about all those hours they spent looking through conservatory catalogues, the weeks of building work it took to get the conservatory built (the foundations had to be put down, and then it rained and the whole thing had to be covered with a tarp and forgotten about for three weeks), all those mornings your dad was late to work because he had to wait around to let the builders in, the 30 percent of garden they dug out for the conservatory to go into and can never reclaim, the thousands of pounds they spent on the conservatory that meant they couldn’t go on holiday that year – and now look at it: it's got your mum's old craft stuff in there from that phase she had of sewing cushion covers, and a big stack of unread Sainsbury's magazines, and they set the airbed up in there when you come over to stay because they converted your room into an office with your dad's standing desk and a big printer in it, and that's it, that’s the conservatory. Sometimes your mum puts a single small white artificial Christmas tree in there when the season rolls around and you look at it and think: 'This is the single most depressing thing I have ever seen in my life.'
Anyway, your parents have decided the best thing to do with the conservatory – the doomed conservatory, the blot on the back of the house, the glass elephant – the best thing to do with the conservatory is rent it out to some cunt for £900 a month.
Look, your dad's put the old sofa in there, and an iron-framed single bed that squeaks agonisingly when you lay on it. There's a minute desk and the world's ugliest lamp. A large looming wardrobe. Absolutely none of the furniture matches at all. Look! You've got a kitchen-space that's eight tiles long, and a single wooden chair left exposed to the rain just outside the doorway. None of the windows open all the way because that's a security risk! Your oven is hidden behind where your door is! The listing says there's an en-suite shower room, but there's absolutely no visible evidence of one! The listing says the studio apartment (conservatory) is "spacious", but I’m not absolutely fucking sure that's true! I think it's actually quite a small and un-nice conservatory, even if living in a conservatory were desirable! And it isn't! So—!
I think it's important to consider, with these listings, who the landlord is, and why the landlord did what the landlord did. In this case, the landlord is "the couple in the house attached to this who think that £900 per month is an acceptable price to charge for a conservatory, in Uxbridge", i.e. possibly two of the worst and monstrous cunts on earth.
You do, supposedly, have your own key and access to your conservatory, via the back door, but you just feel that these two have big "tap on the window and ask if you could keep the noise down at 9PM" energy about them. Lots of passive-aggressive notes slipped under the locked partition door that only they have the key to. You keep coming home and things have moved – a desk has been replaced with a worse one, a random massive armchair is here because they’ve bought a new one – and you leave a dinner chair wedged behind the door to stop them from coming in.
"Hi, yeah, how we doing?" they are saying, cheerfully, seconds after you get home after an exhausting day and a two-hour commute plus agonising ten-minute walk from the station, and you put the oven behind your door on to try to reheat a pizza in and figure out a good angle to get your laptop up on the desk so you can sort of see it from bed, because you just need to watch First Dates and sleep. "Settling in OK? Ha, yeah. Listen, we noticed the chair behind the door and we're going to have to get you to move it – fire hazard thing. Also, we're docking money from your deposit for doing that because inexplicably that's in violation of a sub-section of your 16-page contract. Toodle-oo! Don't forget recycling needs to be put out tonight! And before 8.45PM, because for some fucking reason that’s when we go to sleep!"
Anyway, it's good, isn't it, this arrangement. You have all the sights of… Uxbridge to look forward to. In August you wake up at 5AM, searing hot and slicked with your own sweat, because there’s no way of getting curtains that draw over the horizontal plane of your roof-windows, so essentially it’s like sleeping in a festival tent, only you’re paying £900, every single month, to do it. The steam on the windows is condensed little droplets of your own biological liquids. If you put the oven on, the room heats up like a sauna.
You can't have sexual intercourse in here because: i. Single bed, ii. Single bed that squeaks like a Transformer dying every time you move even half-rigorously on it, so wanks are strict standing-up-in-the-shower affairs and have been for months, iii. You're pretty sure the landlords' bedroom window looks directly down through your transparent roof and at your bed, and you haven’t checked the contract but overnight guests are probably prohibited, aren't they, and you don't really want to have to have a 6AM chat with both the landlords (why do they always appear here, together, clean-faced and smiling, like odd Christian murders in a Netflix-direct horror movie?) while the person you just spent the last five hours on the end of tries to wash themselves in the tiny en-suite shower before Fucking Off Home because they checked the Citymapper directions on how to get home and it's going to take them 200 fucking minutes?!?!?!?! TWO-HUNDRED FUCKING MINUTES?!?!?!?!?!? and the landlords are saying in hushed whispered voices, "Hiya. Oop! Don’t want to disturb. Ha–ha. No, but we did notice you had a guest overnight – did disturb our sleep, just a little! No major one, no biggie – but that is against the terms of the let so we're either going to have to take £400 from the deposit again or evict you on ten days notice. OK! Ta! Don’t forget the compost bins are today. If you're not composting we're going to fucking sit you down and talk about composting."
Listen, I'm projecting, obviously, but the moral of the story is: maybe don't rent a conservatory in someone else’s fucking house. In Uxbridge.