Monday, April 07, 2003
I live in a slightly run-down area of North London, one which Estate Agents are trying hard to describe as "up-and-coming". To prove their point, over the last couple of years, a number of run-down pubs or industrial premises have been taken over, gutted, and converted into "Manhattan-style lofts".
There's one just round the corner from me. Every night, on the way from the bus-stop, I walk past its first-floor windows. And look in. The blinds are never drawn. The lights always on. Surely that's what I'm expected to do?
This apartment is an ad straight out of wallpaper* magazine. High white walls, decorated with vibrant examples of modern art. Black leather sofas, expressly fashioned for seduction. A kitchen, which has never fried an egg in its life, all sleek chrome modernity.
Three people live here. One a statuesque ebony beauty, dressed in the colours of an African Queen. Another a hunky Italian-paparazzo type, straggly jet-black hair, permanent one-day-stubble, stylishly-crumpled white Comme des Garçonsshirt. The third slightly older, tall and tanned, with a greying Number Three crop; black Nehru suits and chunky silver rings. Occasionally they have their immaculately-turned-out friends around, where they sip at cocktails and eat dainty amuse-gueules off silver platters served by staff from the agency. They do not watch EastEnders on their plasma TV. And they have never dropped by Ali's kebab shop down the road.
I am neither convinced nor amused. This is N7. And we have our standards. They are not Real. They're just Show-People, doing Show-Things, in a Show-Flat. Those Estate Agents don't fool me.