I’ve recently seen several articles about building new homes fit for our brave future. Apparently we must design compactly. But whether renting or buying, we must take what we are given. Descriptions use a special, secret code, which using complex computer programmes I have broken, and share with you here.
‘Studio Flat.’ Beware: it’s a cupboard. Definitely a cupboard, but somehow the following have been shoehorned in: a bath (with shower over bath) a fully fitted kitchen with all those new hi-tech appliances you’ve dreamed of, a bedroom featuring a luxurious divan, and a lounge with a sofa and other niceties like a coffee and bookshelves. Yes, they really did cram all that in, but by folding and combining: the bath folds out into a double bed, and the kitchen doubles up for a parking space, and also serves as the bedroom/sleeping space (at night).
‘One bedroom.’ Also a cupboard, but slightly larger. The selling point is that separate bedroom, but beware: it’s certainly large enough for a wardrobe, double bed, chest of drawers, bedside table and chair, but only if your name is Barbie, and you love that cute, pink, plastic furniture.
‘Two bedrooms.’ See above, but with two bedrooms. To be fair, one is larger, but the second is a hollow in the wall, with an inflatable mattress. They used to be called box rooms, and were considered big enough for boxes, or unplanned, surplus children. These days, they are ‘compact’ and rented by four Malaysian engineering students, who exist in shifts and exhale on a strict rota.
‘Three bedrooms.’ Here we are introduced to the concept of ‘The Master Bedroom’, which sounds downright kinky to me. Bedrooms are where mortals go to sleep and fart, or submit reluctantly to clumsy, half-hearted sex, but ‘master bedroom’? The very phrase implies some kind of power relationship, where punishment is assigned, and delivered. The ‘master bedroom’ (sorry - still giggling) is supposed to be larger, but is still only big enough for one double bed, and nothing else whatsoever.
‘Needs refurbishment’? It’s a cave in a valley where the glaciers have only recently retreated. There’s no electricity, space, walls, or water (actually, does an open sewer count as running water?)
‘Ideal family home?’ A sturdy compound, with all rooms separated by barbed wire fencing, or a concrete ‘peace’ wall. The basement provides for secure solitary confinement. There is large room used only on those national celebrations when the family are pretending to get on, say at Xmas, but this is fitted with a sprinkler system, to dampen dissent. UN hostage negotiators and the SAS are constantly on call. Well that’s my ideal family home.
‘City Centre pied-a-terre?’ A shoebox under an expressway.
Basement? Hello vitamin D deficiency!
Penthouse flat? A tiny awkward space at the centre of Pirenesian labyrinth of stairs, with a Jenga of beams on which to bump your aching head.
Ideal First Home? It’s free. That’s everybody’s ideal first home.
Now: go forth and house yourself, tenants. Be happy, and go gently to your ‘master bedroom.’ Architects and developers – I’ll leave you to start the improvements, shall I?