diamond geezer

 Saturday, August 13, 2011

It's ten years ago this week since I decided to move to London. I'd just landed a new job here, indeed just signed the contract, and it seemed ludicrous to commute in every day from East Anglia when I could live far closer. This was the moment, this was the time to finally relocate to the greatest city on earth.

But where to live? There was a lot of London to choose from, and I was worried I might end up in the wrong bit. For some reason I decided to head East, I can't quite remember why, but I suspect it was because I already lived that side of town. Or maybe because the East had character and heritage. Or, most likely, because it was cheap. You remember 2001, property wasn't quite so utterly unaffordable back then. I was only looking to rent, because there was no guarantee I'd still be around in a decade's time. But surely I'd find some place somewhere, for two hundred and something pounds a week, and then I could be a proper Londoner at last.

I took the opportunity to take several free tours of the East End in the company of some of the capital's finest estate agents. First I met David, a cheery rotund bloke in a suit, who drove me down the road to property 1. The toilet was a disgrace, the bath had no shower and the sofa was so retro-hideous it wouldn't have been out of place at Abigail's Party. We moved on. Property number 2 was on the Hackney Road, squished on a single-storey behind a row of shops. We entered down a narrow corridor to where the existing tenant was waiting in midday gloom. All I can remember is how dreary it was, and how terribly small, and how quickly I decided this absolutely wasn't for me. I think the entire row of shops has since been demolished. Normally that would sadden me, but in this case I'll make an exception.

So off I went to another estate agent out Stratford way, back when this was the grim end of town and not an up-and-coming Olympic neighbourhood. Here I met Ben, a sharply-dressed Arsenal fan, who said he had two very different flats to show me. He wasn't kidding. Property number 3 was in the Lumiere Building, up the Romford Road on the way to Manor Park. He took me up to the sixth floor where I couldn't quite get excited by the view out of the window, nor imagine how all my stuff would fit inside the apartment's compact walls. I might have been tempted had the place been better located (the GOBLIN line to Barking was dire in those days), but wasn't convinced. So Ben drove me on to property 4 in Canning Town, which was an area of London I really didn't know at all. Once I saw the estate I rapidly deduced I didn't want to know it any better. The flat was the lower half of a tumbledown terrace, apparently mid-renovation, but from its ghastly state it was clear the landlord didn't give a damn. And neither did I.

James was next, with a flat to flog on the long loop round the Isle of Dogs. Property number 5 was the most impressive of all. Brand spanking new, in a yuppie-oriented block of flats, and featuring its very own balcony overlooking the River Thames. Wow, utterly shiny-wow. Except the location was possibly too far down the Isle of Dogs, and I didn't really need two bathrooms, and the rent was beyond the upper limit of what I thought I could afford. So I passed up on James and went back to David and put down a deposit on property number 1.

And I'm still living here 10 years later. The toilet, it turned out, only needed a damned good clean. The showerlessness I've got used to, which probably explains why I always make such a mess of trying to use other people's. And as for the sofa, well, if I'm ever planning a themed 1970s party then the furniture's already in fancy dress. Ten years in Bow, ten years in the same job, my life's been comfortably stable ever since. It's amazing quite how much one's life can change on a Friday afternoon, mid August, thanks to a signature on a single sheet of paper.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream