What is it? "What if a murderer made a bed?"
Where is it? Stoke Newington, the kind of place where you queue up to get an egg because Time Out said it was a good egg, and then, later, queue up to get a pizza because Time Out really rates the pizza there. Yes, I've done both what of it—
What is there to do locally? Stoke Newington is just three good pubs and loads of people who "don't get Nando's" walking miniature whippets, and is populated by actual adults who think putting a poster on a community board is an effective way of advertising your radical book group. I told you about the egg. Go eat one egg, have a pint, then leave.
How much are they asking? £655, which – in the context of this column only! – is sadly: reasonably alright;
My theory is this: just so ripe bananas give off ethylene like a heat haze, so prospective housemates in London give off their own palpable energy when they need to write a "tenant wanted!" ad while trying to sound fun. This makes sense: just like a break-up drives you into insane deep feelings of panic and fear, so your housemate of four years cheerfully announcing he's going travelling but won't be helping you find someone to cover his rent makes your internal organs flip in sweet little somersaults that no other life crisis can quite emulate, and writing from inside that while trying to come across as Normal and Nice and Not Insane must be a difficulty in and of itself.
That said: I’ve never been live on the writing of one of these – "Mention my juggling!" I assume it goes, three people crowded around a sofa; "Say I like to make recipes up!" – but I have read enough of them to know. London's residents are, sadly, Fun. But they are Fun in a way that makes me want to murder myself and then them, in that order despite the logical flaws within, and I don’t know if that’s due to a fault hardwired deep into the inside of me or if the problem lies with them. Anyway:
Up for grabs is the above lovely double bedroom, fully furnished (wardrobe, couch, table, wall mounted shelves, book shelves, coffee table and chest of drawers), with a mezzanine bed, giving you additional space."
Is it psychotic that I know I already don’t like these people based on their use of the following three words: "hello", "everyone", "lovely"? Yes, it is. Should I do more to explore that side of me in, say, a strictly-structured regime of therapy over a series of months and years? Probably. But then look at this mezzanine bed, and you tell me who's the bad person:
Here’s one thing about the mezzanine bed: it was clearly made by someone who got into a YouTube hole watching Tiny House videos and got A Little Bit Carried Away, and really thought that they could woodwork something original up by bolting a wooden pole into the floor of a bedroom and elevating a bed to almost-but-also-not-quite-not head height.
The main thing about the mezzanine bed, though, is it does not serve any function by being a mezzanine like that. Someone took your bed, right? And they put it in the air, supported by one beam and some unsturdy-looking shelving. And now, right? Now you’ve got space under your bed. To put an entire fucking sofa. Which you can’t stand up fully out of, because you’ll hit your head on the bottom of your mezzanine bed ("We put your bed in the air! Do you like it?"). So you have taken the space a normal bed could quite easily occupy… and switched it for instead an insane bed, plus a sofa… and now… you have to sleep with your face just inches away from the ceiling… for absolutely no reason at all?
There is honesty in putting a double bed in a too-small room and saying: fucking there you go, cunt. The first room I lived in in London – for three entire years! – was smaller than this, and occupied mainly by my bed (IKEA, broken absolutely through) (I did not sleep comfortably for years. I did not question it. No, obviously I wasn’t having much sex), my wardrobe and a small amount of floor space where I could store all of my mess. There is nothing wrong with that. But if I went completely off the deep end and put my fucking bed on stilts so I could climb up into it on a ladder made of what looks like reclaimed pallet timber? Then yes, I think there would be a problem with that. There would be a problem that, in an ideal world, would cause health professionals to come to my house and quietly walk me out to a sirens-off ambulance.
Notes & errata: because of the bed being in the air and the sofa being beneath it, it means the available wall space for prints and pictures is now inverted, which is why you have a gilt-framed painting of a dragon mounted at knee-height. One of the listed perks of the room is that nobody in the houseshare uses the living room space next to it – "The house has … [a] small living room, which is situated next to your room. We rarely use it, so you would be enjoying it to yourself" – which makes sense, because why would anyone use a room that is crammed-to-bursting with two keyboards, two tables stacked on top of each other (which also look like they’re made out of pallets, so I really hope you like weevils basically), random old cushions that I know the exact smell of without needing to smell them, an insanely impractical sofa configuration and an acoustic guitar set-up that suggests someone in the house regularly and earnestly sings. I would mention that the extension cord carefully curlicued up the side of the bed and dangled off some coat hooks is a fire hazard, but I don’t want to sound like your dad. I’m not going Full Dad today. This flat will not be the one that breaks me.
But mainly it's the mezzanine bed that’s got me. You simply cannot help but have an existential crisis in a mezzanine bed: there, in the blue-black dark of the summer night, distant guitar notes twanging behind you, you stare at the ceiling a foot away from your face and think: 'I'm shelved up here in the store space, aren't I? I’m in the exact place I’d normally put my suitcase once I’d unpacked it after a holiday. But instead, here I am, sleeping. In a bed that absolutely does not support anything other than the very flattest sexual positions. Balanced precariously on a pole screwed artlessly into the middle of the floor. Hovering over a sofa.'
Are you a human being with thoughts and feelings and dreams and hopes? Or are you the equivalent of a winter duvet, vacuumed into a big sack and stored away for summer? Hard to tell, sometimes, isn't it. Hard to tell.