What is it? Looking at the property agent's description of the place, I'm seeing the words "quirky 1 bedroom flat", and I don't think there's a single word in the English language that sets off such a hand grenade of dread in me as the word "quirky". Just feel like a vlogger is about to jump out from behind a door or something and start very slowly explaining to me the concept of bottomless prosecco brunch—
Where is it? I mean: Deptford. Come on. Deptford. Nobody has ever chosen to live in Deptford. They have ended up there when every other surrounding option has been exhausted. Deptford.
What is there to do locally? Every time I’ve been to Deptford I’ve had to walk down a seemingly infinite market street that is constantly being hosed for blood while being told that, like a rat, you are never more than ten metres away from an art collective. There is also a chaotically organised ASDA. The end.
Alright, how much are they asking? £1,200 PCM, which – again, to remind you, in case you have somehow forgotten it over the course of the last 71 words – is in Deptford.
How many people live in each room of your house? One, probably, is my guess, unless you live with one of those irritating couples. Irritating Housemate Couples really are the most unbearable housemate sub-genus you have to contend with as part of the endless rental merry-go-round, and I include "housemate who has just bought DJ equipment on Gumtree" within this. Somehow managing to be more than the sum of their parts, the I.H.C., always coming out of the shower together giggling, or watching one of "their movies" with their feet up on each other in the shared living room, or playfully cooking together, or whispering about you in their bedroom.
"Hi," both halves of the I.H.C. say to you, in turn, each passive-aggressive complaint they share coming at you once, twice, then one final time over email. "We noticed the—" and their voice drops to a conspiratorial whisper "— washing up in the sink." It’s only been there 55 minutes, you say. You had beans on toast and watched one episode of Game of Thrones. "Yeah, we know," the I.H.C. says, an eerie wholesome force shared between two empty skulls. "But Becky’s parents are coming over later. Could you tidy it up, please?" And there's you, locked in your room all Sunday because Becky's mum is perched on the edge of your sofa, saying, "So what about this housemate of yours, then? I saw they have Pulp Fiction on DVD. I do hope they’re not swearing around you, Becky."
For some reason you end up paying £200 extra a month than they do. They keep having dinner parties or having friends with babies over on your hangover days. You've never once – never once – heard them make a single noise that sounds like sex.
But to Deptford, for now, and a one-bed flat above a vegan kitchen. Is this flat nice? I would never go as far as to say "nice", but I will err the review towards "not terrible": you’ve got a bedroom here, look, with a good substantial wad of space around the double bed, which in London is rapidly becoming a rarity:
You've got a little balcony-cum-BBQ area thing here, look, and no I don’t fully trust that corrugated roof area to hold, say, the weight of more than one human – it just has the distinct vibe that you could put one foot right through and end up, wiggling and begging for help, until the vegan below you notices and calls the police – and to that end I don’t trust it. But I mean you could have a Corona out there, during the summer, couldn’t you? You could set your laptop up and try to watch Gossip Girl with the sun pinging back off your screen:
And I mean, by this column’s standards, this is a nice kitchen: an actual oven! A sink that is not directly facing a bed! A washing machine! For some reason, someone has ripped the fridge-mounted cupboard doors off, but let’s work around it! That’s just Deptford! That’s just its charm!
And then a— ah, no. OK. Someone’s sawn the legs off a double-bed and mounted it, hovering, part-way up a wall, floating there like a ghost. Also: also someone's folded out a cushion sofa on the floor and… apparently been sleeping on that? Good. OK, yeah. That’s what you mean by "quirky".
So this isn’t a terrible flat, exactly, but it is one haunted by a dark and dreadful energy, and at the very least you’d have to hammer one bed out from floating above you on a wall and sage the place, or get a priest over, before you start moving all your stuff in and arranging all your trainers in a pile. "Hmm, nice flat," you might say, hands on hips, looking around the place. "Need to lift the curse off it that came from the previous tenant apparently subletting it to two painfully desperate people – and honestly can you really blame them, because this fucking place costs one-thousand two hundred a month to live in Deptford – but yeah, once the ghosts are cleared out this place could be quite liveable. Little BBQ out there, or something. Put the fridge back behind a door. Make sure there’s no dark portal to hell in there."
Or you could keep the dynamic, I suppose. Sleeping there, on the floor, is as close as I think you can get to paying to live in prison: you have an adult bunkmate, you have to plan every incident of masturbation with military finesse, there’s a real chance you’ll wake up in the night because someone stepped on you. What’s the hierarchy of the three people who lived here? The person with the double room was the king, obviously. The high bed, second-in-command. Then, on the floor, the little cuck boy. Do you think they split the bills evenly? Who had first dibs on the shower: Floor Boy, because they slept on the floor, or Double Bed, because they were the closest the flat had to monarchy? What were the rules about having people over? Were they ashamed of the bed? Would they roll it up and hide it when they had people over for a BBQ? Did anyone, ever, fuck in this house?
I suppose this flat has a cursed aura about it because it's so indicative of what the rental market has become: a fine-enough one-bed in Deptford sliced up and arranged to sleep three, the residue of desperation, the scent of two people sleeping sweatily in the same small living room. Also – and I can't believe I’m saying this, because it’s akin to doing their job for them – but: come on, estate agent. Why the fuck wouldn’t you move the fold-down bed out of the picture for this one? Come on. Come the fuck on. Think around the problem, dipshits.