The reality of living in London
However well educated we are, we all bought into the notion London was the “place to be”.
We were corrupted with the ideology living in The Big Smoke was great. We’d have brunch on weekends, repaint kooky furniture and drink mimosas from jam jars in an illustrious “rich but hip” manner (if you live in Hackney).
As we waved goodbye to our school friends, who remained in their family homes and second tier universities, we were off on the journey to wealth, success and pussy. Moving to London created a shift in the dreary paradigm of our suburban lives, enabling us to act like “real life adults”, yet still living primarily off everybody but ourselves, truly believing the grass – or in our case, pavement – was greener on the other side.
Back in 2010, London was voted the most cost effective city for students. Last year it was sixth, and now it’s 10th. Tell this to any student in the capital and they’ll tell you to fuck right off in disbelief London and cost effective were ever put in the same sentence, let alone league.
The HomeLet Rental index recently produced figures suggesting rent prices in London have spiralled out of control, with an increase of 12.5 per cent now leaving the average monthly price to rent at £1,500. Rental costs in the last three months have gone up five times faster than tenant income – and that’s probably exclusive of bills.
Slowly but surely, London turns out to be just another city. Just another place where you can buy a £70 coffee which is essentially a cup of animal shit, just another place where you can devour a £90 omelette, and just another place where you’re closely monitored in Sainsbury’s checkout to make sure you’ve paid 5p for a bag.
If Daddy isn’t renting you an apartment on the river that’s primarily made of glass and nice shiny things, this leaves you with the minority of students who don’t have their parents wiping their arse for them, making life pretty tough. Soon enough your evenings are spent eating, swiping through Tinder and wanking, although the three aren’t mutually exclusive. Leaving your house, best referred to as a “squat”, involves spending money. Money which you do not have.
Before you know it, you’re sat on the floor of your mate’s flat using their WiFi because the power cut out in your shitty E9 flat seven hours ago and your landlord isn’t too fucked to do anything about it. After crawling into the cubby hole beneath the stairs and vigorously flipping every switch in sight on the fuse box, you assume it must be a mass issue and run into your neighbour’s porch, who you have never met before, to ask if her electrics work. She stands there in her perfectly lit house, turns around to look at the bulb, then faces you and says “I think mine’s ok”.
A friend says “sounds like you haven’t paid your leccy bill” and you’re outraged at such a suggestion, especially as you’ve just handed over 90 per cent of your loan to the landlord to secure your rent for the next four months. Forcing your way into the outdoor-box-thing by your house, the metre reads a pathetic £0.03p total. Your landlord finally answers the phone, after a surge of “help”, “I’m freezing” and “I’m all alone” texts, and tells you it’s your flatmate Mikey’s issue to sort out. Ah yes, Mikey, the guy you haven’t seen in three weeks. Mikey, who you’ve barely spoke two words to, but have been kept up at night unwillingly listening to him bang his underage girlfriend. Fuckin’ Mikey.
The WiFi at your house has a child block on it which you’ve asked to be removed multiple times, so all the fun websites are blocked between the hours of 5:30am and 9pm, leaving you to sit and twiddle your fingers or, at worst, use the scraps of your remaining phone data. This means once you’re able to get on Tinder, you’re faced with the dregs of society.
The classic David Gandy persona complete with tan brogues, a pocket square and ironed trousers doesn’t exist. In reality, he’s just Dave, another city wanker in a navy trench coat from Zara Man, who has a tendency to swing his briefcase around (which he has no use for, so it’s filled with a few biros and a Waitrose meal deal) and admire the framed Andy Warhol prints in his South London flat. Or, if you’re really scraping the barrel, it’s Dee that lurks around Shoreditch wearing a holey grey jumper and a pair of Raf Simons loafers he found in a bin down Brick Lane.
You’re yet to find the illusive “attractive posh girl trying to get back at Daddy”. They do exist, but the ones you’ve met you don’t want to touch. Instead you’re left surfing through the SAAARF LANDAN girls, questionable human beings with a penchant for “deep haaarrsss” music and trying to cram a penis, any penis, as far as it’ll go down their throat. Someone asks for your number and you joke you don’t want to buy anything and already have enough tea-towels. They don’t get it and ask you on a date anyway. You agree, arrange for next week, then block them.
Eventually you will go on a real date, except it’ll turn into a “let’s get pissed and get a kebab” type affair, which is great for you as you probably haven’t eaten all day (instant black coffee and rollies don’t count as food).
Then Christmas approaches and you make the obligatory visit back home, now sleeping in the spare room because Mum wanted a dressing room. You meet up with your friends, who in turn have now grown to hate you in your absence. You go to the pub with £60 in your pocket, forgetting you can get blind drunk on a tenner back there.
Your “mates” comment on the change in your accent, ignore you for most of the conversation and talk about people you have never met. Not a single one of them knows who Corbyn is. The dog has also forgotten who you are, so when you return home at a modest 1am after a night of mind numbing company. He barks, scaring the shit out of you and making you drop your chips.
You hate being at home so much you book an earlier return train and slither back into the grey, expensive, diminishing city that you now call home.
Welcome to London.