- 06 Sep 04
With the Frenchman who came for two years gone after six months, our weary London correspondent is forced to search for yet another new flatmate.
Hi Barry. I am sending this email in response to your advert in Loot, the London small ads paper. Is the room still available? If so could you tell me a bit more about it. I am a PR executive looking for a friendly house in the Clapham area. Would it be possible to come and have a look tomorrow evening? Many thanks, Lorna.
Hi Lorna. Thank you for your response to my Loot advert. As luck would have it, the room you’re inquiring about is still available, as it did not seem to quite fit the specific living requirements of any of the 17 different time-wasters who have traipsed through it thus far, shaking their heads, turning their noses up at everything while muttering things like: “Animals! How can anyone live like this?”
Below is the general description of our home that I’ve been sending to people who’ve responded to the ad. You may notice that it’s become quite Tolstoy-esque and epic in its evolution, as I’ve been forced to tailor it to the specific needs of whoever happens to be expressing an interest in it at any given time. With this in mind, please excuse any frivolous waffle you may find contained within. But then, being a PR executive, frivolous waffle is your stock-in-trade.
The flat is a three-bedroom, two-story flat located on the main thoroughfare of Clapham South, South West London. At the moment there are two of us living here with one vacant room, hence the ad in Loot. It’s approximately two minute’s walk from such exciting local amenities as Clapham South Tube station, Clapham Common, two supermarkets, a 24-hour garage, several pubs, a Majestic Wine Warehouse, Odd Bins and the betting office.
It is currently occupied by me – a 31-year-old journalist from Ireland with a long tradition of sucking up to wonderful people such as yourself who work in the not-at-all worthless sphere of PR in the hope of getting as much free stuff as possible. The other resident is Lindsay, a 27-year-old bloke from Cambridgeshire with a girl’s name who does something unfathomable with computers, but is actually a very nice guy once you get to know him.
The third room – until recently occupied by a once innocent and teetotal young Frenchman who recently returned screaming to his homeland in drug-addled and alcoholic despair – is currently vacant. Hence the ad in Loot.
If you’re looking for a gleaming, brand new loft conversion complete with rare tropical fish, mahogany furniture, expensive chandeliers, solid gold bathroom fittings, shiny hardwood floors and chrome finishes ... then this is almost certainly not the flat for you. Average rents around Clapham South are between £500-600 quid per month. Ours is £400 – go figure.
Despite the relatively cheap rent, the place is clean and tidy, in a squalid and dirty sort of way. A bit studenty to look at, I suppose, but I’ve been here for five years and while I certainly don’t like living here, neither do I find it disgusting enough to endure the myriad hassles involved in moving somewhere else.
Our kitchen, which an estate agent – or indeed a PR executive – would probably describe as “rustic”, looks like something from a 1950s American sitcom and contains a very old but functional washing machine, a cooker, two fridges (one for food, one for beer – we’re living the dream), a television and a microwave oven, all of which are coated with a complimentary layer of indescribable grime.
The living room is large, and contains an eclectic range of furniture including a unique three-piece suite cobbled together from three different three-piece suites, an arresting chair that somebody liberated from a skip, a brown carpet that used to be green and an identical television to one that was recently valued at £600 by an expert on The Antiques Roadshow.
The room that’s available is at the back of the house, which means it’s quiet, until 6:30am when the people who work in the premises below arrive for work and start bickering loudly in Greek. It’s a decent-sized double room, insofar as it has a double bed and plenty of room to walk around. You could swing a cat in there comfortably and if you’re into that sort of thing, we’re happy to turn a blind eye. It comes fully furnished with a bed, a bedside locker, a wardrobe, a 2001 Kylie Minogue calendar and a New York Rangers ice hockey pennant. If you don’t want any or all of these amenities, they can be burnt.
As far as myself and my flatmate are concerned, we don’t run a tight ship and everything is very relaxed and friendly. We both smoke and drink constantly and – like most people who pompously describe themselves as easy-going with a good sense of humour – aren’t half as easygoing and good-humoured as we like to think we are.
Visitors, overnight guests, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends and one-night stands are always welcome and we have two fold-out beds should they be required.
Anyway, Lorna, that’s all I can think of at the moment. As you may have noticed this description is rather thorough, but I feel there’s no point in beating around the bush – if it doesn’t sound like the place for you, I’ve saved you a trip. If you’re still looking for somewhere and fancy coming around for a look on tomorrow evening, let me know in advance so we can get the carpets scraped in anticipation of your visit.
Yours in anticipation,