Life

Rental Opportunity of the Week: Come On, Really? Taking the Piss Now

A bed, in someone else's kitchen, for £700 a month.
09 July 2020, 8:15am
bed in kitchen
Photos via Gumtree
What is living in London like? Hell. Here’s proof, beyond all doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is it? Scenario: it is 6AM and you are at a house party and I am the host. You are one of four people still left standing after a hard night that arced the usual way – pints outside a pub in denim jackets, then pints inside the pub when the air gets too cold, and then clang, already somehow it feels like you only just got started, but it's midnight and it's last orders, and you’ve just ordered a pint, so you take your time with it and the landlady comes round three times to your table as the pub thins out, increasingly huffy with you each and every time, but you, head wrapped too deeply in the waddy pillow of drunkenness, laugh and wave her off, yeah yeah got you got you, until a real actually quite menacing security guard with ID in a flouro-armband attached to a bicep bigger than your head comes and puts two palms flat on the table and says, "Finish up, cunt, now," and you finish up, yep, sorry mate yep, and leave, and as the lurid rush of cold air slaps us firmly in the face outside I say – I am still here throughout this – I say something like, hey I live nearby, get some cans and back to mine? and you and me and the group we have collected (at my count there are about eight of us here right now, though it will be seven by the time we get back, we will lose one along the way, we always do, and secretly I’m hoping it’s one half of that disconcerting couple who you don’t seem to know and I don’t seem to know, but they know us, the eerily tall bloke in the couple keeps telling me he’s "doing a set" tomorrow, together they exude sinister energy) and anyway, at the third try we all find an off license that’s open, the sign of it white-hot neon against the sky, and so—
Where is it? — and so here’s the situation: you are loading up on as many cans as you can afford right now (six.), which also happens to be the exact amount of cans you will drink in the ensuing few hours (six.), and I am also getting the same number of cans (six.) because I plan to drink six cans and then, immediately after those six cans, tuck into some of the cans you are buying, because I am doing the charitable thing of hosting this afters at my house, and so me drinking your beers makes a rough sort of sense, as payment. You have not received this message. The weird couple have bought four cans, and I can’t tell if that is between them – it can’t be between them, can it? – or each. Everyone else, as I can see in the queue now, are holding a single-digit number of cans – one guy has three, and one of them is inexplicably a Holsten Pils, and someone else is just buying a big bottle of Pepsi Max ("You have vodka, yeah?" and I think I do but I am not sure), and I am at the back of the queue and I already know this isn’t enough cans, this simply isn’t enough cans to sustain us, especially when we all collectively wade into that swamp of drunkenness that comes between 2 and 4AM, which is closer than you think by the way, that drunkenness when you open a can – a Red Stripe, in your instance; for some reason I’ve picked up Bud, and I’m already embarrassed about this, but we’re deep in the queue now there is no ejecting – where you open a can and swig at, like, 200ml of it, but then you go briefly outside to smoke, and when you come back you forget what can was your can, so you go to the fridge and get another, so the table has so many half-drunk and half-opened cans and nobody knows whose can is whoever’s can, and also six cans, which should last us through until – what, 4.30AM? 5AM, at a push? – those six cans are now only going to last until, maybe, 3AM, and so we are fucked, can-wise, even though at this very second we are right now buying cans. We have, before we have cracked a single can, bought an insufficient number of cans. The shop closes hard behind us.
What is there to do locally? And so obviously that weird couple – I got stuck in a strange conversation with her while she went to the cashpoint and she made me follow her on the Instagram page she has for art – and so the weird couple, obviously, organise to pick up. I am not pro this, but I am not anti this, given the can deficit, because the drugs will slow the amelioration of the can supply (I have already hidden one can of Budweiser, as if anyone will steal my Budweiser, in a can cupboard, so no one can drink it. This I will not remember until 11AM tomorrow, where it has grown warm and unpleasant), and so while they are doing that – everyone is shooting Monzo links and PayPal links around, and promising to pay next week on payday, and you are saying you’re only going to do a bit so you’ll only pitch in a tenner, because you’ll only do a bit anyway, so you only have to pitch in a tenner, and I think we both know, if you can get away with it, that you are going to go close to doing a gram all on your own, really, let us be honest here, and anyway the ensuing thing happens – I give the weird bloke from the sinister couple my keys and he goes to the cashpoint and to pick up, and takes someone else with him, and they are gone fucking 45 minutes for some reason, so here we are down to five, and I am doing that thing where I try to put Bloc Party on the Spotify Connect app I have on my PS4 and everyone is getting mad at me, Come On Man What Year Is This, and I am stood up going "north to south" and it’s quite pathetic, actually, you’ll all forget this happened apart from me, I will remember the moment – me, stood in my own front room, 3AM with a Budweiser, insisting Bloc Party are still relevant, going "as if to say, as if to say", my best Kele impression – I will remember this moment in the morning and glow, absolutely glow nuclear with the shame of it all. But you will not.
Alright, how much are they asking? The long story short of this is that, at the end of the night, the last four of us standing, the troopers, me and you and the weird couple, the girl has fallen asleep, the cans all finished, the drugs all gone, nostrils stinging gravelly and the sun peeking under the blinds, at that moment you will say, "I should really get an Uber," and I’ll insist, "nah nah nah, mate, stay here." I’ll insist you stay at my house. And in that situation you have two options: you can sleep on my sofa, which is vaguely comfortable, or – and I’ll admit, at this stage, it’s 6AM and we’ve both talked extensively about our father issues, we are best friends now, I can tell you everything – and I’ll admit this is weird, but listen, right, I’ve put a single bed in my kitchen, for some reason, do you want to stay there? This is the bed:

flat to rent harrow

So in that scenario are you staying on the sofa, (comfortable), or in my kitchen, (peculiar)? You’re sleeping on my sofa, aren’t you. In that scenario. Now imagine it isn’t 6AM and we haven’t been up all night rolling calamitously mis-shapen cigarettes and trying to explain Bitcoin to each other, and it’s the cold light of day, and you are sober, and you are being offered the opportunity to sleep in this kitchen, in a single bed, every single day of the month, for £700 a month. What you doing in that scenario? Are you paying £700 a month to sleep in a kitchen? Or are you asking, if you buy me enough cans, can you stay on my sofa for a bit, just while you get your shit together?

To catch you up, this is a "Small Furnished Studio Flat In Harrow", fairly close to the main station and the Big ASDA there, but otherwise near nothing, on Earth, because it is in Harrow. If you look closely – look at the big, looming, cheapest-possible-firedoor-in-the-warehouse firedoor at the end, there –you'll see that this is actually the kitchen to someone else’s flat (that they have access to via the firedoor), and you are sleeping in it. There’s your single bed, look, perched on top of the floor tiles. There’s your wardrobe, by the fridge. At the bottom of your bed is an electric heater, because kitchens are normally freezing. The listing states, "All bills and wifi is included. There is also a separate entrance." This is someone else’s kitchen. You are paying £700 to sleep in someone else’s kitchen. In Harrow.

I've been depressed by beds pushed into kitchens before, obviously, but this one for some reason pangs me along a different frequency: if this were a completely self-contained studio flat, i.e. if someone had lopped off the kitchen to their house and put an en-suite in it and dragged a bed and a wardrobe across the floor, in Harrow, I still wouldn’t really think, 'Yes, this is worth £700, every month.' But the fact that it isn’t – that, at any one time, as you sleep in a kitchen, someone can boom through the firedoor into the kitchen and make spaghetti – something doesn’t sit right with me about that.

Kitchens make kitchen smells. Food makes food smells. If you cook anything requiring an oven extractor, you need to leave that running for 20 minutes post-cooking, to get the heat out. So what are you doing here, the non-cooking kitchen sleeper of this situation, cross-legged on your single bed, trying to watch Netflix on a duvet that faintly smells of bolognese and the sweaty smell of undried laundry? You just pausing your show while your landlord makes toast and leaves crumbs and room temp butter and patches of Marmite everywhere? Yes, you can always escape through your door, I suppose, that separate entrance you have, what appears to be a pair of double patio doors that, I’m assuming, lead out to an unkempt alleyway you have to shuffle down every time you want to come in and out. I suppose you could hide in your own bathroom and finish watching an old episode of New Girl in there, maybe. Pretend to shit while someone else makes soup.

But do you want to? For £700? A month? In Harrow? Come round mine, mate. Bring me six cans and you can just kip on the sofa. Stay here for a bit until you get your shit together. Don’t live like this. Don’t live like this.

@joelgolby