What is it? The hard angles of an interior roof, smushed close against your face.
Where is it? South Harrow. Always quite enjoyed that there's a region of London that is essentially named after "the feeling of distress".
What is there to do locally? A genuine first in the history of this column: normally when I come to this bit I just google "[name of area] + Time Out", see what bar they recommend, then take the piss out of it, but this time there’s… nothing. There's nothing. One of the results that comes up is just the words "South Harrow bungalow fire". The cheerful Foxtons SEO-friendly "South Harrow Area Guide" has an antique lampshade shop as one of the top-five Harrow sights. So I suppose your options are: buy a brass chandelier or have your skin seared from your face while not walking up stairs. Those are your literal two Harrow options.
Alright, how much are they asking? £850 pcm.
Do you ever wonder how many more rooms you will exist in before you die? This room you are in right now: that’s not the room you are going to die in, is it? Maybe you are in your office, so hopefully not (though: I did look up "workplace death stats" a few years ago on a particularly dark motive hangover, and it's more common than you’d like to think. It's not a dignified way to go but if you tip face-forward into your keyboard while annihilating a bircher pot they will at least go, "Damn, they gave it all for the cause." They at least have to name a meeting room after you. Everyone gets the afternoon off. That sort of thing. What I am saying is: There! Are! Worse! Ways! To! Go!).
Ideally, you are in your bedroom. Does your bedroom feel like your own yet? With the posters on the wall, and that lamp you’ve moved house with three times now, and the blanket and the rug and the sort-of-but-not-really organised system you have for storing your clothes, your socks, your underwear? Three plants, one dying, two not? All of that? Or does it feel like four white walls and the information – tucked away behind a door but still leaning into shot somehow – the information that out there, right now, is about £1,400 of your money in the form of a deposit? Just sitting in someone else's bank account? There? How many more times do you have to go through this? How many more of these endless fucking rooms?
I only ask because: i. I'm on another dark motive hangover, sorry, the spectre of death really does loom large today; and ii. The energy of this loft conversion has caused me to spiral, possibly endlessly, into the abyss. These are the rooms they give us. These are the rooms they serve up and say: live and die in this.
The notable feature of this apartment is the fact that it is dominated entirely by the angle of the roof, which is insane. Your bed (a low-framed double next to a small sinister cupboard) is dominated by it: you sleep under the shadow of the angled roof, you wake up and it is the first thing you see. When you climb out of the bed, instead of stepping up and out like a normal person, you have to contort yourself into a low shuffle: lean off the bed first, then rise, to make sure you do not clunk your head on the ceiling. You are constantly leaning in and out of the room, away from The Angle.
Think about the room you are renting in now: square, isn't it, mostly? A nice large square room, with high corners in it that you cannot reach. This is not. This has had vast swathes of square erased out by a huge, looming, angular wall. You are paying for less of a room than your square-roomed peers. You are paying to be leaned on.
The kitchen, too, is dominated by it: follow the strange head-height line of electrical tape (??? okay ???) to the corner, where an electrical socket has somehow been mounted at a 45-degree angle in the wall (??? okay ???) and a kettle plugged into it (??? the only feasible electrical that can occupy that corner ???).
Your kitchen is: one sink, one towering dish rack. You have a special shelf round the corner with a microwave on it. There is a fridge. The fridge has been pulled out from the fridge-shaped alcove by the wall for reasons unknown. The fridge is trying to lean into your space and occupy it out from underneath you. The walls are coming in for you. Everything is coming in for you. Slowly you are being compressed.
I know these things can be fixed quite easily, but this is a real sigh of a property listing: an inexplicable pile of rags at the bottom of the stairs, one unconnected computer mouse on the table, Simply The Laziest Photo of a Bathroom Every Taken ("What do the punters want to know about this bathroom? Probably that it’s got the top bit of a shower and a light socket with damp around it that, at the end of a 12-month tenancy, we will pretend wasn’t there before and charge them £200 to fix it" – some cunt in a Mini). A single cheerful bin beneath the custom microwave shelf. A specially-made miniature corner sink. A lonely wok. IT lab-issue blue carpet segued into linoleum.
It's depressing enough living in this city, in a square room, with space above your head. Don’t live out of it, in Harrow, with the chandeliers and bungalow fires, leaning into the middle of the room to try and find a place to stand. Don’t live and die in here.