The Break Up Moving House in London Story: High Barnet to Finsbury Park

About a month ago my loving 3-years-and-change relationship ended. She left our shared flat, and after a few weeks I too would return to a house share.

For the first week after the breakup first I was in denial about the prospect of moving. I scavenged off the carcass of the relationship, polishing off the forgotten frozen meats in the freezer, trying to get the laundry to smell like when she did it, sitting on the couch for hours playing Wii games that we had bought to play together.


I tried to embrace the move as an agent of cleansing by going through all my stuff and throwing out the junk. The first layer of house kibble is relatively easy. These are your extended family birthday cards, old bank statements, random bits of office paperwork brought home. Then you get the sentimental but light junk. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, Valentines day cards from the ex. The improving book your father bought that you never really got into. Finally the bulky but expensive goods like the childhood flute that you swore you would eventually pick up again, the souvenir sake and sake cup set from Japan, the dying potted plants you got as housewarming gifts. In the end I threw almost everything away. But I rescued the dying plants though, perhaps they too would thrive in their new environment.

Moving from High Barnet into Finsbury Park certainly switched things up. While the old neighbourhood was decidedly monochromatic, the new place hums with dozens of languages and more ‘Insert Country Here Bakeries’ than I could ever not visit. The old travel agents advertised flights to sunny Spain with pictures of nuclear families smiling on a beach. The ones here show flights to Istanbul, Karachi and Mogadishu with nothing on them but the price. But on the horizon I can feel the fell force that turns pound shops into organic sourdough ploughman’s: gentrification. My place sits on the raw, organic, steel cut edge of gentrification, I have fake-decrepit eateries lie side by side to genuinely decrepit eateries. For me, this is the goldilocks zone. I can enjoy the cheaper meat of the halal butcher, the frisson of exoticism from all the cultures around me but I still have the posh coffee shops and trendy places to eat that my eternally middle-class soul feels comfortable in. And of course the best part is that until the area becomes fully gentrified I can still afford to live here.


The world tells us that living with a romantic partner is the natural order of things, but that living with friends is a sign of arrested development, of 20-something angst. At best it’s a charming and dysfunctional surrogate family that one eventually needs to let go of in the season finale. And in some ways living with housemates does feel like a step back. Waiting for the washing machine to be emptied so you can wear clean clothes, or for pans to be cleaned so you can eat feels like something I left behind in halls along with posting song lyrics on Facebook. And it’s great when you’re out with you flatmates getting hammered, coming home and cooking something horrible and processed before passing out in your bed in all your clothes. It’s less fun when you wake up in the morning and someone is asleep on your kitchen floor denying you a hangover-busting coffee.


And yet I still feel like I am on holiday and staying in a slightly shabby hostel or a failing bed and breakfast. I can stomach the mildewy shower and my growing pile of unwashed laundry because my gut tells me that before long I’ll be heading back home soon. A home with somebody to eagerly greet me at the door. A home that has somebody in bed I can wake up with a kiss. All I can do is to christen my new house with firsts. The first meal cooked here. The first time I can bring myself clean the toilet. The first time I bring a girl home (which if current trends persist should be late 2016). Till then I’ll politely hover outside the kitchen, coffee cup in hand, waiting for my unexpected house guest to leave.

Ken Plas