London lifestyle makes lockdown difficult for many

London lifestyle makes lockdown difficult for many, by Greg Sheridan.

My wife and I lived in London for three months last year in a tiny flat in Barons Court, just beyond West Kensington.

It was the smallest space I’ve ever inhabited. The dining, living and kitchen space were about the size of a large ensuite bathroom in any self respecting McMansion and the bedroom required careful sliding around the edge of the bed.

But it was perfectly fine for a temporary stay partly because life in London is not lived at home. Walking 300m left or right took me to many tiny coffee bars, cafes, small super markets and pubs. You never had coffee at home because all these places functioned as your living room.

In Australia we drive to the super market and do a big shop once a week, or even less often, unless we particularly enjoy shopping. In Barons Court everyone it seemed went to the markets and food stores every day. Everyone went to the pubs every night. You watched the football in the pub, you read the newspaper in a cafe, you bought your supplies almost daily for those rare occasions when you ate at home.

Our refrigerator was the size of a few — very few — stacked shoe boxes. We backed on to a building site which was always noisy. None of this mattered because our time in the apartment was sparse.

Imagine being locked in full time, with the prospect that lock down might last weeks, months.

And our apartment, on the top floor, was very good by London standards. The people in the semi-basement ground floor at the front had their window open on to the building’s always full garbage bins. The apartment at the back opened onto the noisy, dust-generating building site.

Cabin fever would set in after about a day. Keeping symptom-free people, especially young people, confined in apartments like that, and there are many much smaller and more crowded all over London, will require the spirit of the blitz in an era of routine, narcissistic civil disobedience.

hat-tip Stephen Neil