It’s a question I ask myself frequently.
Far too frequently.
Like now it’s got to be an hourly thing and my compulsion to search for a new home on Rightmove is beyond addiction levels. I think I may have a diagnosable issue.
So I know we’re all in this together and this virus is unprecedented and all the rest of it (you know the rest, I won’t scar your ears with yet more). But I think there’s a huge disparity between us. And it’s an inequality that’s been little discussed – and that is, not all of us have access to big enough properties to work from home (and live) and not all of us have outside space.
Me, I have a carpark, which I’ve turned into a makeshift bar/art studio/ BBQ area. I’ve chosen to look at the situation through rosy tinted glasses and really try and make the best of it.
But I can tell you, well, this veneer, it’s slipping.
One of my neighbour’s has decided to cash in on the empty car park and rented out his space to a random car which turns up at all hours of the day and night and dumps itself in the middle. It then gets left there for days.
It’s not a nice thing, to have your only outside space invaded by a random car, and also there’s the security issues, but I digress. (And yes, I do understand that really it’s a car park, but I was make-believing).
Living in London, for me, is all about the lifestyle. You don’t choose to live in London because you really want a small flat with no garden. You choose to live in London because you want easy access to all the fun stuff that’s going on.
Except now, there’s not that much of it. And if the news is to believed, I don’t think there’s much on the horizon for a very long time.
And I don’t mean to come across as bitching, but I have to tell you, having spent a weekend out of London, I am now seriously wondering: What on earth am I doing here?
Outside of London I have seen and learned people are quite normal, yes they are worried, but there is not the same undercurrent of fear as there is in the capital. Neither me, nor my friends, intend to use public transport any time soon, but the problem is, traffic here is back to pre-crisis levels and trying to get anywhere by car is a journey you wish you’d never started.
Honestly, most of the time when you think about trying to get out of London you wonder if the queues and the stress are really worth it.
But the problem I have is, most of my friends are here. If I up sticks and do a switcheroo (my idea since yesterday has been to rent my place and rent in a different area, likely by the sea and where I could get a house and a garden), what will I be left with then? Is it worth having a bigger place if you don’t see anybody? What’s the point of a garden if I just sit there on my own?
At least in my carpark bar I can have visitors. I can see friends. We can debate, we can cry, we can be hopeful, hopeless, and every emotion along the great gamut of what this virus has done to us and our expected and accepted way of life.
And maybe now writing this I have learned something I didn’t realise before: I chose to move to London to live. And maybe it’s not as it once was, and maybe it will change again, and maybe it will not be how it was, or maybe it will be better. But I guess the key thing for me, is being close to my friends.
Technology may have given us the ability to video call and run cocktail parties online, but there’s nothing that can replace real human interaction, and seeing an actual smile in the flesh.
How about you? Has your relationship with where you live changed?