Life in London: so many issues. Our inquisitive editor-at-large addresses the ones that nobody else dares (or cares) to. This week: London life versus the uncoupled.
Why is London so mean to single people? It definitely is. For sure. As sure as day is day and night is the good bit where you can drink until it seems like a great idea to serenade the pub with the theme tune to ‘The Fresh Prince’.
What if you want to buy a flat, but don’t have that special person to whom you say, ‘No, honestly, I was listening.’? Forget it. Mortgage lenders typically loan you up to four-and-a-half times your salary. The average London wage is £35,238. Thus the biggest mortgage a typical Londoner can get is £140,932. But the cheapest average price for a one-bed flat in the cheapest London borough (Barking and Dagenham) is £159,000. Single peeps’ chances of buying a glorified cupboard to call home, therefore, are zilch.
Even the dudes who sling pizzas in my cramped local takeaway scorn people without sex partners. The name of their two-for-one offer is ‘Two of Us’. A lovely phrase. Clearly it’s had thought put into it. It reeks of a calculated attempt to evoke images of the heartwarming bonding experiences you can share while chewing on leathery pepperoni. The equivalent meal deal for one person is called ‘Home Alone’. Did they deliberately decide to alienate individual customers by picking a name that makes it sound like they’re sat in their pants, weeping? Or maybe the bosses briefed their marketing agency thusly: ‘Sod pandering to single people: they’ve got nothing better to do with their lives than buy our pizza. Call it “Fat, Sad and Lonely” if you want.’
Singletons even have to pay higher rail fares. National Rail has a railcard that gives couples a third off train tickets. Granted, the website for its Two Together card does claim it’s not just for romantic partners. But if this ain’t a discount for regularly seeing the same person naked, then why do they illustrate it with a picture of a woman whose arm appears to have been welded to her travelling partner’s midriff?
Here’s a fact for you: London has the highest percentage of single people in the UK. Nearly half of the city live their lives with plenty of room to stretch out in bed. So perhaps businesses could avoid treating them all like unpaired cards in a game of sex snap? They’re not necessarily doing the romantic equivalent of sitting in life’s waiting room, reading out-of-date mags to burn through the painful seconds. They are, in fact, the norm.
So you know what would be fair? Initiatives that celebrate our single population. Supermarket meal deals which don’t swathe themselves in such a cosy fug of togetherness that they may as well be renamed ‘Pass the Beaujolais, Snookums’. Tax breaks (where would the nightclub industry be without the fiscal stimulus provided by singles on the pull, huh?). Cheapo singles-only train carriages-cum-flirting-parlours (love couples so much, National Rail? Then why not try to create some more?). Solo dining packages at restaurants (although let’s give them a nice name like ‘More for Me’). Then maybe when we’re finished tackling that we can get on to one of the worst piece of anti-singleton discrimination there is. End the decades-long oppression of the unattached – do away with seesaws.