Watching the city turning on a light bulb at a time, I got lost on a bus diversion in a blue spectral wasteland. Some grungy Italian boy was dragging his body weight in a suitcase. Are you stopping at Bow Road? Are you stopping at Bow at all? Judging by his muted response, lost boys weren’t the driver’s concern.
As the passengers drifted one-by-one into the night, I arrived back at my latest residence, a baby boomer investment tower in Bow Quarter. Where I desperately find myself wanting to leave, but unwilling to pay for a deposit elsewhere. Make the wrong move in the London renting market, and you can find yourself boxed in at times. In my case quite literally.
When you share a place with randoms, there are lots of dynamics in place, and they only come to the surface once it’s too late. Superficially the flat is plush and modern, but that’s where the attraction ends. There is a corporate sadness from the moment you step inside, whether it’s the generic showroom decor, untouched cooking utensils to the complete absence of human love and sentimentality.
No photos, no books, no records, and certainly no magnets on the fridge.
The landlord stockpiles vitamin tablets and fake tan in the kitchen. The fridge has virtually no food beyond a few eggs, and the dishwasher is stuffed full of plastic bags. He doesn’t adhere to any recycling principles, and no visitors are allowed without his consent. Also sharing the apartment is his slow-witted nephew, who daily consumes protein milkshakes and microwaved paellas for breakfast. He vainly struts down the corridor like a Ken doll and sleeps in the living room when he’s supposed to be at college.
They watch Sky News and Hollywood movies without paying the faintest attention to events or the storyline. Like the pills and fitness supplements they consume, the television is a substitute void to help them get through the day.
My relationship with them veers from bewildered diplomacy to barely concealed agitation. The landlord is a decent, caring man who would never harm anyone, but he addresses me like his paella-munching nephew, and this unintended condescension is sending me to the exit door.
One suspects I will be on the move again in July.