AND I BANG IN THE EAST AND I BANG IN THE WEST*

February 09, 2013
*No, this is not an ode to Chris Brown; and can I just say that I think Karmin's cover of Look At Me Now killed it? Surpassed the original, left it behind in the dust, she was like fudge trial she put it down if you got eyes look at her now, yo. 

This is a long blog post about my history of living in London, covering the last 6 years and my last 5 addresses up till now.

I am now the proud owner of my second property in London. 



India & I at Maddox last Saturday. Photos lovingly stolen from her Facebook, contrast & levels upped in Photoshop by me.

But first; a history of my previous residences in London.

India jokes that I'm a "West end girl living in East London", and it's not the first nor last time that I've been teased for my postcode being at odds with my accent. My voice sounds vaguely plummy; like I've got a potato stuck in my throat, but my Shoreditch abode is definitely far from posh. Of course anyone with basic comprehension skills can grasp that I love contradiction, juxtaposition, contrast. Isn't it so terribly middle-class to 'slum it for fashion'? Patronising connotations aside, some us really do live in Shoreditch because it's cheaper than Sloane Square, although that's not to say that teenagers don't just move into slightly shady neighbourhoods to annoy their parents. For me it was a mix of necessity, frugality, and a sense of adventure. 

I've lived in 6 different addresses in London in as many years. My first postcode was reasonably affluent, and then rapidly declined down a scale of 'fairly safe & boring' to 'trendy but dirty' to 'will definitely get shot at the bus stop' before moving upward to where I am now, Shoreditch. 'Gentrified, up-and-came, but still satisfyingly grungy'; is how I would describe my neighbourhood. With room for improvement but the compromise is worth being able to afford to own my own place.

Anyway! I moved to London at the age of 18 after accepting an offer to study at Central St. Martin's, and having missed out on CSM student accomodation I found myself living in...

 1) South Kensington (2006-2007)

I lived in an ancient red brick building by the Royal Albert Hall which was so old and poorly insulated that staying warm in winter meant going to bed wearing fur. The building was a residence for women, and all my housemates were students---neurotic ballerinas, law students, medical students, art students.  We took our meals---tasteless, limp, barely lukewarm slop---in the basement, standing in line like Dickensian orphans. I expressed my distaste at the offerings; and received a verbal abuse not unlike Oliver Twist. Not amused. Also, the no-guests-after 11pm rule; enforced by reminders over megaphone barking your name and room number were a bit of a kill-joy. So I moved to...

2) Euston (2007)

Still student accommodation, but with a difference. This was a Christian student accommodation slash hotel and conference centre. On one hand, it was two to a room---but not for me, back then I was a atheist and had to be separated from the other God-fearing pious souls---but on the other, the food was a catered buffet affair. I gained a ridiculous amount of weight eating two English breakfasts every morning, spend a lot of time reading the Bible placed on my bed, and hissing at the other students. Inevitably I got kicked out for sneaking guests in overnight and being just generally a impudent, nasty, little heretic.

 3) Brick Lane (2007-2008)

Decided that student accommodation had too many restrictions. Decided to flee that lifestyle of oppression & stress by moving into...a tiny room in a flat shared with far too many strangers, in a council estate occupied with unsavoury characters; criminals, anarchists, and despondents alike. What can I say, back then I had yet to develop the ability to make intelligent and well informed decisions. But! I was spoilt for choice when it came to curry houses that all boasted some form of outdated award.  "Best curry house of 2005?" That was three years ago, you need to step it up.
The landlord still owes me my deposit... *glowers*

4) Dalston (2008-2009)

Having been nothing but introverted, antisocial, & isolated as a teenager (translation; I had no friends) it took this much later in my life for me to go through my 'rebellious years'. This for me meant drinking, shaving a side of my head into that once-fashionable but now-so-mainstream sidecut, and going to squat parties, illegal raves, and dance nights in gay 'nightclubs' which were really a basement underneath a shop in Dalston (the fire hazard! quelle horreur!) Laughable really, that I had to do all that to assert the notion of being liberal, free, and wild.


Even this bus thinks that Dalston and the Dalston lifestyle is a joke. >LOL<

How can one properly be a Party Monster---Michael Alig, hey!---if one did not live in a huge but dirt-cheap loft apartment above a pub, in a dodgy party of town, with a crazy-eyed, raging landlady who violated every single law of landlordism? That included; coming up randomly without warning into the flat AND withholding my deposit from me because "It ees with dee estate air-gent, and dey have left town so I keh-not geeve you bak yoh ma-ney." Tough luck lady, you should know that the law requires you to put the deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme and that your failing to do means I am well within my right to take you to court and sue you for three times the amount. Not to mention that trying to intimidate me into leaving without my deposit is harrassment. The woman got her daughter to pretend to be her legal rep to go all lawyerly on me and get me to back down. Her 'legal rep' produced a piece of paper with photos of the now defunct estate agent thinking that a few crappily composited photos would hold up as, hmm, I don't know, The Bible of Real Estate Law? I saw through it right away, rolled my eyes, asked her again if she wanted to be taken to court where I would successfully sue her for three times the amount she rightfully owed me, and suggest that the court investigate if she was paying taxes on the rent from her tenants who certainly signed a contract that most definitely illegal. The fake lawyer trembled, the landlady gaped, and gave me back my deposit in cash the very next day.

5) Whitechapel, E1 (2009-2010)

Moved into a rather charming flat, with high ceilings, wood floors, furnished simply but tastefully, and managed by a landlady who knew what she was doing (Having repairs made swiftly and with no fuss! Being nice about late rent! An contract that's actually by the book!)


The only problem with the flat was that it was on Commercial Road. A huge stretch of commercial buildings, with no real sense of community---no flower markets! No bijous boutiques and family-run cafes! In the evenings it was completely deserted but for wandering drunkards and troublemakers from the nearby hospital, and foreign men with disgusting ideas on how women should be treated. Once, a leering man follow me up to my building door, clearly intend on assaulting me knowing that noone nearby would come to by aid. He asked me "Do you live here?" Yes you stupid piece of filth, I'm obviously going to tell you that so that you can make me a target for whatever sick ideas you have. I replied, "No I'm here to see my boyfriend, he's just finished his sentence in prison, for assault. BABY! I'm here!" The would-be molester swiftly made his exit.

I witnessed a horrific incident on that very street outside that flat; a woman being abducted by two men that she clearly knew. I called the police and insisted they come straight up to my flat so that I could give a statement, but when they showed up they never so much as crossed the front door. Instead I hid by the window, holding my breath, and had to make the hardest decision of my life when the abducters returned in their car with no woman, but with her handbag which they quickly disposed of. Do I run down to the street, grab the police and demand that they immediately arrest the men, possibly saving the woman? Or do I listen to my friends who held me down and insisted that I not give myself away, for fear of my safety? I'm ashamed to say that I didn't have the courage to leave the flat and expose myself to the kidnappers, and selfishly stayed where I was, hoping for the police to do the right thing. The police never spoke to me, my phone calls to the station to inquire about the case were never answered, and to this day I still torture myself thinking about the woman's fate.

Dark days, indeed. I try not to think about those years...

Satisfied that I had sufficiently horrified my parents and having had more than my fill of the 'fauxhemian' lifestyle, I decided to put my childish ways and days of squalor behind me. Like my shaved hair, I was beginning to outgrow my pretentious lifestyle---when I say grow out of I mean I went from 'eating, living, & breathing it' to 'parodying myself for my own amusement'---and embrace being the bland, bourgeoisie, vanilla biscuit that I really am. Living in abject filth and being harassed by dodgy landlords had long since lost it's novelty. Having squandered enough money on rent, I decided it was time to buy.

In 2010 I became the happy owner of a Shoreditch apartment, where I now live in & work from.

So ensued an addiction to Apartment Therapy, IKEA, and hunting down furnishings at auctions, thrift stores, vintage shops, & antique markets. Whether I actually bought anything is another story, but! interior design & decorating (or at least fantasizing about it) became my new passion. I can proudly say that I know the measurements of every crevice in every room of my apartment, that just by looking at a piece of furniture I can instantly tell if it will fit a certain space, and that I can assemble an IKEA Billy bookcase without consulting the manual. 

Not long after, the itch to collect knick knacks for my apartment graduated to, well, investing in apartments. So it was decided that I should look around London for a second property. Initially I had my eye on the Avant Garde development on Shoreditch High Street, just down the road from where I currently live. Location wise it was almost perfect; literally right in the centre of all my favourite places---right across the street from Shoreditch House and Richmix, two streets over to Aubin & Wills cinema, The Boundary, and my favourite little shops & boutiques on Redchurch Street.



Avant Garde Tower, Shoreditch

I eventually decided against it because it was either ---
a) Overlooking Sclater Street ie. the filth and foul of strewn rubbish from the Brick Lane Sunday markets
 b) Too close to the Overground, the constant coming & going of trains & commuters would drive me insane  
c) All the units on floors high enough to be somewhat quiet with a decent view were already snapped up.

I should really just live in a derelict, empty, crumbling castle on the edge of a cliff with nobody around for miles. All I need to be happy is high-speed broadband, a car, and a helicopter. Oh, and 25 dwarf hamsters.

No matter. Easy come, easy go, that is the nature of property hunting. Fast foward 2 years and hurrah! I've got my second London flat!

I now happily own an apartment in Circus West, the property development at the iconic Battersea Power Station!




How gorgeous is that penthouse?! Sadly I couldn't afford one of those, I'll have to save up like mad. Maybe by the time I'm 35!

Circus West is the first phase of the new Battersea Power Station residences, "a mix of 800 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments, townhouses and penthouses as well as a blend of offices, shops, leisure and hospitality." £600 million of property was sold in four days, in a "stampede believed to the fastest selling property development on record." Madness! The developers happen to be Malaysian companies so luckily hospitality was extended to a fellow Malaysian and I managed to get my hands on a decent flat, with a discount too.






I don't intend to live there though, as adorable as the apartments look I think they're much better off as investments as opposed to the kind of home I want to bring up a family in. I know it's not going to be anytime soon, and the apartment won't be completed for another 3 years anyway. Hopefully by then I can sell for a nice little profit, or rent it out, or who knows turn it into a 'me' space like Carrie Bradshaw? It would be nice to have little flat away from the marital home (whenever that happens, gods of love, are you listening?!) where I can paint, peruse magazines and sip tea at my leisure, a quiet small space for just myself and one or two friends. No men or children allowed!

Like this, but less blue.



xxx

6 comments:

  1. Great post. Entertaining and an interesting personal perspective on a particular aspect of London's nearest history and demography.

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  2. You mean mummy bought you your second apartment. Nothing to be ashamed of!

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    1. Half correct. Mother & I are joint owners. I love sharing things with her; cars, handbags, property etc. it definitely brings a new meaning to mother-daughter bond! x

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  3. Wow, you have been all over London. I have lived here 3 years and been mainly west. I started off in Earl's Court, the spent a short time by Regents Park station thanks to a shady landlord, so I quickly moved to Marble Arch for a short while. I found someone to share with so we spent a year in Baker Street which was very central and amazing, then when they moved in with the bf, I went solo to Chelsea, where I have been for over a year now. Damn, I just want a permanent place to call home already ! LOL


    bisous,
    Natasha

    www.bisousnatasha.com

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    1. Your London adventure sounds a lot more scenic and a lot less stressful than mine! Are you looking for somewhere to buy? xx

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