What is it? Here's the story / of a lovely writer / who was googling the same thing every week / all of them were flats with mould, bad as each other / they were all in Zone 6
Here's the story / of a toilet / which was never working as hard as it could / so they put a cupboard / in their toilet / you could pee in a drawer
You are wondering / how long I dare to push this / where I set out all the column to the theme / of a sitcom / that they stopped making / in the year 1974
Where is it? For some reason, all the bad ones are in Wembley at the moment. This is a bad one, so: it's in Wembley.
What is there to do locally? I choose to use my leisure time counting out the beats on my fingers to the theme of The Brady Bunch and trying to make ill-fitting intro paragraphs about it, so I’m happy more or less anywhere. That said: it's Wembley. You've got a stadium, an ornate temple, exactly one park and a fucking hell of a journey home. Don't overthink it.
Alright, how much are they asking? £800 p.c.m.
There's that famous speech Ben Affleck does in Good Will Hunting. Shall I recount it? Come on. No. A waste of my time and yours. Here's the embed, but you’ve seen it already. "The best part of my day," etc, etc.
Alright, here's the joke: the best part of my day is the ten seconds between me searching "studio flat, london" on Zoopla and the moment the search terms start to roll in. Maybe today is the day, I think. Perhaps this is the day London has fixed itself. Maybe there won’t be a sofa in a kitchen today, or a bunk bed. Maybe no one has tried to cram a washing machine into a bathroom. And every day I am proven wrong:
That, as you can see, is a washing machine in a bathroom. We’ve had this before. I’m not saying it’s ordinary, but there’s something semi-understandable about it: it's a white good full of water. It’s a large, clunking, necessary machine that is ideally housed in a kitchen or a separate laundry room. You can’t put it in your front room, can you, because it's too loud. No. So: if you absolutely, absolutely cannot have it in your kitchen, and your flat is too small to have a separate room for laundry (see: every flat in London), then OK. I can kind of understand a washing machine in the bathroom. It’s not optimal, but I’ll let it slide.
But a small slanted set of wooden drawers? As well? Causing a sort of gauntlet between the washing machine and the toilet, meaning you have to slide sideways and walk in large horizontal strides to go wash your hands after you go pissy? That’s a step too far for me: the plywood already starting to bloat and peel as the bathroom damp gets inside it; the unnecessary addition of the drawers; the clutter of this bathroom vista; the fact that this already small bathroom has not one but two pieces of furniture in it.
Let’s tour the rest of the house: there is a casting couch-esque sofa facing the bed, which has an ominous energy all of its own; there is a looming, semi-structural teak-stained wardrobe cluster, which also has a deeply powerful vibe; there appear to be learning charts tacked to the wall, for reasons unknown (did children live here? Did a child grow up thinking small furnishings and washing machines live in the bathroom?). The kitchen is a sort of end-bit of another room and works as a hallway to the shower room, and for some reason is only decorated with the Nesquik rabbit’s severed head. (A fact you might not know: the Nesquik rabbit is called "Quicky". Feels like we don’t talk about that enough.) I’m not a big fan of "beloved decapitated childhood heroes" as décor, but that’s just moi.
Upstairs, the same property agent is trying to let a similarly almost-but-not-quite studio flat, with seemingly no apparent bathroom but with access to the shared garden below. Here are the two photos of each:
I know I go in a lot on the bones-deep incompetence of estate agents, letting agents, landlords and property photographers, but: why did you not run the same photo for each advert? Why take this terrible photo twice?
But the main thing is the bathroom. Think of you, there, trying to do your self-care here. Extended go on the toilet and a big long evening shower. You, up close in front of your bathroom mirror, trying to clear your pores out. And just the juddering of a washing machine behind you. The damp in the air here has started to clot everything up around you: rust settles beneath the washing machine, the plywood drawers bulge as if they have boils. It is impossible to ever make the floor dry because you have so much furniture to mop up around. You go into your front room, hauntingly decorated by a "sofa that has really seen some shit" and "a laminated guide to the months of the year". Relax in bed, here. Try not to think about how much this flat is costing you. Try not to think of how much you’re paying to exist here, in Wembley, with a set of drawers in your bathroom that you can’t open because of the steam.