Would you pay £650 to sleep in a kitchen?


What is life like in London? Hell. Here is the proof, beyond any doubt, that renting in London is a nightmare.

What is that? One of those where the the bed is exactly as wide as the room. Was the bedroom built around the bed or was the bed built for the bedroom? Well, to answer any philosophical question about landlords, we of course have to ask ourselves: what is the cheapest possible solution to this problem?

Where is it? Continuing our theme of a Great British Tour, point to the wetlands outside the nation’s capital and say, “See? Look”, we are this week in: Reading.

What to do locally? I just typed “I’ve never been to Reading”, but then I remembered the time I went there, which is pretty amazing actually: the imprint Reading left on me ( I went to Reading less than three years ago) was so sweet and seeing that the whole town’s existence just popped out of my head. All I really remember is it was raining, there was a lot of low new construction and blocked A-roads through and to them, and I had one of the best Depression McDonald’s in my life (Big Mac meal, large, plus Chicken Selects, large, plus McFlurry: walk to the station and pause for a few minutes to stand very close to a trash can in case I need to vomit). I think I hovered around a branch of Black’s a bit so I didn’t have to get too wet.

Is this an accurate account of the concept of reading? I’m going on intuition alone here, but I feel like that’s the case. I think it’s one of those places that has way too many mall complexes outside of downtown where you can go to Homebase and the cinema in the same acre of parking lot. Again, all of this will be happily redacted if anyone can prove that Reading actually has a culture –

I guess they have the Reading side of the Reading & Leeds Festival, don’t they? Hmm.

What, “um”? Yeah no it is. No it’s OK.

You love the Leeds Festival! This vinegar-smelling field is home to both the best and worst times of my life, okay, but –

Corn? Biffy Clyro playing every two years somewhere near your town doesn’t count as culture.

Ok, how much are they asking? £650 PCM, and I can say that’s too much for Reading because if I saw this flat listed for the same amount in London, I’d say “it costs too much”. A funny detail: this list was reduced on January 17, 2022. They originally asked for more.

You know, I’m a “get out of bed using my legs” guy. It’s who I am. I’m upfront and honest about it. When I get out of bed…I like to use my legs. I like to start each day by rotating my legs to the left side of the bed, planting them on the floor, and standing up immediately. Some people, maybe the leg movement is not for them. Sure. But me: I am a man who gets out of bed until the end of days.

This doesn’t work for me:

A mattress next to a radiator

The recurring theme of this column in recent weeks has been: getting out of bed like sleeping in a van. For some reason, among owners, having us do this is the novelty. And maybe I’m overestimating the importance of the literal first act of the day getting out of bed, of course. Previously in my life I have scrunched up my legs and dragged myself out of bed and had to roll through the duvet before, yeah.

I’ve done this, for example when I’ve slept on futons in overcrowded guest rooms, where you sleep among see-through storage boxes with a load of old photos, or a single slightly deflated exercise ball. I also did the shuffle-up when I sleep in a tent or something. But if I pay rent on a place, and I regularly sleep in it and therefore get up in it, I want to get out of bed in the normal way. I don’t want to have to get out of bed like members of the armed forces are shooting at me with snipers. I don’t want to get out of bed like I’m a dog walking around on the floor to relieve her anal sac.

The expanded meaning of all of this is, of course, if I were to roll out of bed like it was year 7 PE and just got yelled at to do a forward roll, I’d be okay with doing it if I emerged into an apartment that was in no way pleasant. You could imagine taking that L, right? Like yes, you have to get out of bed using your whole body like you’re a toddler scraping a net over a ball pit, but you’d be fine with that if you came, say, to the Castle of Versailles .

A small kitchen with two hotplates

Unfortunately, you’re going out to “just a kitchen” instead, and not a particularly exciting kitchen: you have one of those weird two-burner things to cook with (directly next to a wall so at certain angles you can’t turn a pan); a microwave oven that has somehow been installed in a closet in such a way as to require an elaborate vent; probably a fridge, although hard to tell; absolutely no washing machine, or anything like that.

Again – and I know I take it a lot – but the owner has wisely installed a really ugly dining table to literally take up all the available floor space left so you have to deal with that even though I think only about one in ten single people sit down to dinner these days, and most of the same people use their laptops from their bed.

So yeah, I guess you could use it as a dining table and desk, but I think personally you’d rather just, like. I do not know. Literally have anywhere to put your clothes. Or: even a hint of a comfortable chair. Anything that makes life easier or enjoyable in some way. I don’t want to live in a world where dining tables become a luxury item, but in the dreadful places I have to continually look for it, we’re getting there quickly.

Other features include: a very small heater directly next to your bed so you can wake up with a burnt leg and a heat headache every morning, and also a folded chair that you don’t have space for to unfold, but it’s there just in case… I don’t know, if you choose to have guests and you can move your bed to the hallway first. One of the main walls in the apartment also arches quite steeply inwards, so you don’t have much headroom. If you want to get a plate from the small plate holder provided, you have to crouch.

There’s no evidence that this apartment has a bathroom from the photos, but I took the video tour and technically there is, it’s so tight (it’s in this small space protruding between the kitchen and the front door) that in order to move around it in any way you have to walk sideways. So, to recap: you need to get out of bed, crawl into the kitchen, and crab-walk into the bathroom. There is no area of ​​this apartment that you don’t have to contort slightly to live in. If you want to stand up straight, get out. And even when you do that, you’re not even in a particularly hands-on part of reading.

Just think about what they were trying to charge before they reduced that to £650 per month. Do you think they reduced it by, say, £5 – it was £655, and now it’s £650, and they’re going to do this month by month to see if anyone is ever interested – or , more realistically, do you think they thought they could get £750 for it, then reluctantly reduced it to £650, which they now think is too little? That they would be really mad if someone got this for the bargain price of six hundred and fifty fucking pounds?

I always wonder if homeowners ever notice that their mortgage payments on their actual homes are significantly lower than what they charge for the shitty little enclaves they carve out in Reading, or if they just look at this information with a look empty in the same way as the robots in Westworld can’t read some schematics that will hurt them. What am I doing, waiting for human emotions from vermin? It’s like asking if a rat can do math. Of course it can’t. What the fuck am I even saying—


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