What is it? Studio flat, Clapton,
Where is it? Studio flat, Clapton.
What is there to do locally? All Clapton is now is a series of studio flats crammed in next to each other and somehow multiplying and decaying at the same time, every room in Clapton just a studio flat waiting to happen now, every studio flat in Clapton just a flat waiting to be bisected into two, smaller, rentable studio flats, and so in five years, or ten or 20, Clapton will be the population locus of the UK, everyone there crammed into a small coffin-sized space that fits exactly two hobs and a single bed, and they will pay £900 p.c.m. for the pleasure
Alright, how much are they asking? £900 p.c.m. for a single professional, an inexplicable £950 p.c.m. for any couple that wants to live here, doomed as they are to pay £50+ more a month just to live here, fight here and – ultimately, after six weeks maximum of stepping on each other after getting out of the shower – break up here
"Do you ever wonder," friends and fans alike ask me. "Do you ever wonder, Joel, if some of these property adverts you write about are faked, like an enormous prank?" And to those people I say: yes, constantly. Do I think there is someone out there who will list a false rental advert, complete w/ photos and a fake property company, under a fake number, and seed it on a real rental website and/or platform, hoping I will personally stumble across it – or, taking action into their own hands, they might set up a fake Twitter profile so they can anonymously DM me about it – and then write about it. "This is bad!" I'll say, "London is dying! Slaughter every landlord!" and they will turn around and say: I got you, you idiot.
Do I wonder that? Do I think it’s possible? Do I worry about it, constantly? Is my ego really so enormous that I feel someone would go to all that trouble just on the off-chance of catching me out? Yes, yes, yes, yes.
Possibly related information: this week’s rental opportunity is honest-to-god listed by "Climax Estates". This is their logo:
Climax. You know: like the cum.
Anyway, to Clapton, again, which is dying by the brick. Here’s the latest studio flat on offer here, which you will immediately notice has the air and eerie vibe of somewhere murders (notice the s! The murders are multiple!) happen. I don’t know if this is just something I am noticing, but this is happening more often now: basement flats w/ a single window offering a stark, spare amount of light from some walled courtyard outside, tiled floors for easy mopping, saturated ceiling spotlights, complete and utter air of murder.
Some flats in London you go into and you can imagine all the interactions that have been there before: flatmates in cosy sleep-socks and their feet tucked up on the sofa, watching X Factor and giggling; an early-thirties couple, hands softly intertwined, about to have The Conversation Where They Decide To Get Pregnant; or you go to a flat with tattered wood-chip wallpaper and just know that at one point five lads lived here, relentlessly drinking cans; you can imagine families that lived there, a child’s single bed, a Christmas morning, proudly holding a boxed remote control car for dad’s new camera. Or, like here, you can imagine dark black blood trickling from a newly-slit throat:
Some studio flat features for you to enjoy:
– An entirely tiled floor in the utility-space room, which can I remind you is where you have to somehow find space for either a single or double bed, and is there anything quite so disconcerting as a bed perched on tiles? Just squeaking around slightly, sliding in the night: something wrong, about it, somehow, like you just came to in a continental Airbnb and everyone else from your stag party left hours ago to actually catch the flight, and now you have to go to the Barcelona embassy – "LO SIENTO!" you keep saying, don’t you, even though the receptionist insists he speaks English – and, long story short, the Daily Mail does an article about how you got sunburn so bad they thought you had died and you end up suing your best man for £800;
– A hob w/ a grey-grilled extractor fan, which – and there is absolutely no way I can say this with any confidence at all – absolutely does not work, no way, like I can visibly see the smell of this flat, and it smells like every molecule of vegetable oil that has ever been used to cook with in this flat, every single one, can you imagine the tired savoury smell of this place, like walking into a Scotch egg;
– Don’t really know how to say this, but the main item of décor in this place seems to be like 45 shells glued directly to a wall?
– There is an emergency pull-chord in the bathroom, but I’m not sure exactly who that is meant to alert, because once you’re embedded in this underground studio murder flat truly nobody cares if you live or die here, but that narrow bathroom seems like a good enough place to have a sort of claustrophobic shitting panic attack, you crying and sweating and yanking at an emergency chord to nothing, to nowhere, nobody cares, nobody is coming;
– One of those sinister wall-mounted radiator things that never actually work, do they, let’s be honest;
– All the usual accoutrements of a shitty studio flat in Clapton: exactly one shelf; an electrical outlet bafflingly mounted halfway up a wall; exposed wires and tubes literally anywhere where wires and tubes have been installed; tiny weird water heater thing; seemingly blood-stained net curtain that I can tell you with authority smells like dust and dead flies; single haunting strip-light; inescapable air of apathy;
The two-tiered rental hierarchy here – £900 p.c.m. for one person to drive themselves insane with misery, £950 p.c.m. for two – does make me think at least this flat has a use. Here’s your summer reality show pitch: rig this shithole up with HD cameras and put a young couple in there with radio mics, and watch them collapse together in this tile-and-shells purgatory, slowly driving a wedge between themselves as they try to gather enough spare earnings to put a deposit together. "It’ll just be a year!" one of them says, cheerfully, on moving day. "We just have to live here together for 12 months, then we can think about buying!" Then, by Day Three, it’s already falling apart: they’re not talking because one of them managed to set the smoke alarm off three times while cooking one pan of pasta; there’s nowhere neat to wall-mount the TV so they’ve just got it stood on the floor; no space for a wardrobe, so they’ve just got everything they own folded up in a 35-litre plastic box wedged under the bed. "Just 362 more days!" he says, weakly, but he knows. He knows. Move back with your parents, mate. This one’s over. The Clapton shell-walled hell box kills another victim.
As if you wouldn’t watch that. ITV, call me.