Sometime last year I moved to new London digs. This was before the pandemic, of course, before any of us thought that “pandemic” would be something we’d even have to think about in our lifetimes. It was back when the concept of “London digs” seemed perfectly reasonable and obvious.
Back then, I spent a lot of time in London. I needed a pillow to rest my head on at night, and a cupboard to keep some clothes in. I needed digs.
So I moved to new digs and it was an empty house, newly moved-into by me and my host. On that first evening, it had that haunted-house vibe of stacked cardboard boxes and the endless search for essentials: not the kettle, everyone remembers the kettle. But other essentials, like teaspoons and bog roll and extension leads and matches.
That evening, late, not long before bed, I wandered the house and pointed a lens into empty spaces, into boxes of nothing. I tried to figure out how to turn them into something.
There was no food in the house, of course, so I ventured out to see what I could find nearby. I found a chippy, what turned out to be The Worst Chippy In North London. Needless to say, I only discovered this when I was four or five chips in, and by then it was too late. It was made all the more heartbreaking because my previous digs had been two minutes walk from The Best Chippy In North London.
I miss chippys. I miss chips. I miss London, but not as much as I thought I would.
The boxes have been unpacked now, the house is filled with character and human voices. My cupboard remains untouched and unopened, my clothes inside it getting dusty.
I’m not sure about the terrible chippy. I hope it’s still there, for its owner’s and employee’s sake. But if you can possibly help it, don’t buy chips there. Dear me.